Manifold engagement of Rotary for Syrian refugees in Oberes Murtal
Rotary supplied the asylum seekers (who had arrived with worn out summer wear and shoes) in October with warm clothing and shoes, bought pocket dictionaries, organized a German language course, the therefore needed course room and writing materials.
Expansion of the pocket dictionary supply within a few weeks to other accommodations in the districts of Murtal and Murau (costs: 1,800 €).
Taking part in info-evenings about the topic of asylum already from autumn 2014 onwards. (picture: discussion evening about the topic of asylum with human rights award winner Mag. Günther Zgubic)
With an extended circle of helpers we organized evenings, where refugees and the local population could meet. The evenings were very positively received and reduced the number of wrong information and prejudices. Also on day trips and bicycle tours friendships were formed.
Since October 2014 volunteers and other interested people have been receiving reports via email by a member of the RC Murtal about two to three times a month. Those reports are forwarded by the recipients, so the circle of helpers is enlarging month by month. But also the number of asylum seekers is increasing. At the moment there are more than 450 hundred in the district of Murtal.
After our persistent urging, a heavily traumatized young Syrian woman quickly got help from a psychotherapist at the Association Zebra in Graz. For six months Ms. X.Y. had been driven by volunteers to the city of Graz, which is 100 km away and then brought back again.
Members of the RC partly took some days off or even a holiday to help with that activity. We could not find a single female therapist and a translator in the district. (both had to be female)
Together with the refugees we emptied a house and a flat. The furniture was no longer needed by the heirs of the house. Four months (at last) after a positive asylum, the refugees have to move out of the accommodation they were given in the basic support. We are not only helping with the finding of a flat, but so far also three flats have been equipped with furniture and stuff from the interim camp.
We are trying to use refugees, who have been in Austria for quite a long time, as translators; they explain the separation of waste, accompany to the doctor's and learn how to write and read. For example, in Judenburg in the Gußstahlwerkstrasse a Syrian man teaches those who have just arrived and others who live in Oberzeiring or accompanies them to the doctor's or institutions.
Unfortunately, there is no regular German language course. In the countryside there is a lack of teachers and money. Besides, the level of knowledge varies a lot within the groups (from illiterates to multilingual university graduates). Because of that lack of teachers and money, there can be no differentiation in the lessons.
The Rotary Club Upper Mur Valley and the economic organisation "Powerful Mur Valley" have collected second-hand computers and laptops. The de-installation of all data was carried out by two computer companies and the "Schulungszentrum" Fohnsdorf. Rotary bought language courses with Audio-CDs, helpers explained the people in the accommodations the exact handling of the training programme. One to two refugees are responsible for an undisturbed training situation; up to six people have to share a computer. In that way, everybody can learn and repeat according to his/her own level. Once or twice a week volunteers come and explain unclear matters from the computer-assisted German curse.
Up to now, there are computers in: Judenburg (2 computers), Rothenturm, Pöls,
Oberzeiring, (district Murtal Dürnstein, and Mariahof (district of Murau). More than 120people are supplied with training material in that way. We are planning an extension of that programme in the whole district, but also in the neighbouring district of Murau. However, the financial support and the necessary teachers are still missing. We are thinking of asking the upper class students of high schools in Judenburg, Fohnsdorf, Zeltweg, Knittelfeld, Seckau, as well as from Murau. (expected costs for further computer equipment, the reinstallation, as well as the travel costs of the students and a small fair of e.g. 8€/hour) makes 2300€).
The case of Mr. A.E. shows the big advantage of learning German as quick as possible : He is a Syrian, who has been living in Austria since October 2014. At the end of August he was added to the list of translators at the local police department for Styria and has already successfully passed his first translation job. On October, 6th, he gave an excellent speech in the RC Upper Mur Valley with the topic "My long path to Austria".
Especially difficult is the support of 17 asylum seekers from four different nations! (Somalia, Tadzhikistan, Syrien, Afghanistan). Those people are sharing one bathroom and one kitchen. Their cultures and their languages are completely different! So, in addition to the German language course, which has been given (since the beginning) 4 times a week, cultural differences have to be solved. During every German language lesson, it is important to offer a little programme for the children: the two children from Syria (2, 4 years old), the one year old boy from Afghanistan, and the baby Ibrahim, who is only a few weeks old and whose parents are from Tadzhikistan. (Photo: Baby). Only by reminding them of solidarity, community, and psychological peculiarities, a growing respect and living together is possible.
For us, the fastest possible acquisition of the German language and a soon possible integration are the most important aspects. Only in that way we can avoid a "refugee proletariat" and immiseration.
Christoph Sippel RC Oberes Murtal
Bank account number:
IBAN: AT23 3836 1000 0004 3927