A Berlin-based group has created a website that matches refugees with citizens in Germany who are willing to accommodate them.
By: Amanda Froelich
This article first appeared at TrueActivist
Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, over 3.8 million refugees have been displaced from their homes and forced to find safe haven in other areas. Response to the crisis has been largely positive, with aid flooding in from around the world, mainly from neighboring countries.
Not only did over 10,000 Iceland residents open up their homes when the government capped its refugee number at 50, German citizens donated so much aid to transiting refugees, the police became “overwhelmed” and asked them to stop. That’s not all – an Egyptian billionaire recently announced his intention to buy an island and provide a new home for 200,000 refugees escaping the civil war.
And now, a Berlin-based group inspired to “be the change” has launched a website that is basically an Airbnb for refugees.
As The Guardian reports, Refugees Welcome is a website that matches refugees with citizens in Germany who are willing to accommodate them. To date, the website has assisted people fleeing from Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria find safe haven – even if just temporarily.
Spaces have been offered by students, couples single mothers, and retirees.
The site works by allowing users to register their space and provide basic information. Then, they are matched with an individual who has fled their city through a refugee organization.
The website finances itself through job centers, social welfare payments and donations made to the site itself.
At present, the website is only tailored to Germany, but the program has plans to extend its service to other countries in Europe – an intelligent choice, indeed! The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with inquiries received from Europe, Australia, and the United States.
A major benefit to Refugees Welcome is that it encourages a cultural exchange, in which the host would assist in helping refugees learn the common language and adjust to their new environment. Relocating – especially because of a civil war – would be a traumatic experience for anyone. A gracious, understanding host would no doubt ease the burden of such an experience.
One exchange involves Johann Schmidt, who shares his apartment in Konstanz with an Iraqi refugee.
“Azad tells me about his home country time and again, and can explain the overall context of the current situation to me in simple terms,” Schmidt told The Guardian. “I’ve learned quite a bit from him already and very much enjoy listening to his stories.”
Not only does Refugees Welcome provide homes to people in urgent need, it also allows hosts to invest in kindness and form a connection to those who need aid now more than ever.
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