Refugees and officials have their say
Dr. Jürgen Zieger, Mayor of Esslingen
As mayor, it is very important to me that we facilitate a safe and pleasant living environment for refugees and asylum seekers in Esslingen. People arriving in our city should be able to lead as normal a life as possible, with shopping, nurseries and schools etc. I am very hopeful that any concerns can be prevented, if contact with residents is simple and, with a little time, becomes commonplace.
Supporting refugees is a subject that I care deeply about. Both the professional employees and volunteers of Esslingen look after people with the utmost care and attention, for which I am very grateful. In this exceptional situation, every helping hand is hugely welcome.
I perceive there to be a great sense of openness among the population towards the huge challenge that society is facing today. Over the coming months, we will make it our business to address actively the question of integration. Our city offers many cultural opportunities and facets, while we also have extensive experience in dealing with diversity, and it is certainly worth making use of this.
Stephan Stötzler-Nottrodt, Referat für Migration und Integration
If a person is forced to leave their home, as is almost always the case, and to escape through the desert and over the sea, it means he or she must entrust their life to smugglers, and hope that it will be returned to them upon arrival at the destination. It also means they are obliged to choose this path, as there is no other option. In doing so, almost all refugees will be extorted, robbed and mistreated. Some of those who lose everything never make it to their destination.
This means that every asylum seeker who has made it to Esslingen has their own unique story, but also their trauma. They don’t know what the future will hold for them, when or even if they will see their family again. As a result, efforts towards welcoming and integrating new arrivals must become commonplace among the citizens of Esslingen. Brotherliness, understanding and meeting people are no less important than rules, laws, figures or professional support.
Musa K. from Gambia
The people of Esslingen are so willing to help. We would be nothing without them. They gave us such a warm welcome. Some of them are like a surrogate family. I would very much like to give something back to German society. I am a trained electrician and would take on any voluntary employment that came my way – I just haven’t had the chance yet. I’m also very afraid of being deported, so being able to share my concerns and fears with other people is really great.
Experiences and stories
Refugees, as well as the people of Esslingen who support them, have much to say.
Training in council-run nursing homes
Three men fleeing terror and violence in their native Eritrea and Pakistan are presented with the first opportunity to find their feet in Germany by undergoing training to be a care helper in council-run nursing homes in Esslingen.
Click here to read a brief report from the Esslingen “Gesundheitsmagazin” (Health Magazine):
Ausbildungsbeginn - Eine echte Chance (82 KB)
Hello my friend - how are you?
Refugees getting involved – asylum seekers in Esslingen-Zell:
"We want, need and are looking for work."
Hesham, 50, and Ali, 47, live in the communal accommodation for refugees in the sports hall in the Zell district of Esslingen, and work in the nearby branch of WEK. Since the organisation’s founding in 1984, WEK has been working to help people with disabilities. The vocational training and/or job offer they receive there should enable them to develop an ordinary working life.
Read an account of their experiences, by Adiyanti Sutandyo-Buchholz:
Hallo mein Freund - wie geht es Dir? (151 KB)
Tourist for one day
On Saturday 18th April 2015, the first German-Arabic tour of the city for the “men (refugees) of the Zell sports hall” took place.
The joint action of "bunt.ES" with the town of Esslingen am Neckar - Office for Migration and Integration (RMI) and the Adult Education Center Esslingen - Department of Culture (VHS) offered the Refugees the possibility of meeting with citizens of Esslingem beyond the environment of their accommodation. "It's nice, today I am Tourist for a Day" a Syrian summed up the event.
A report by Adiyanti Sutandyo-Buchholz and Julia Brielmann (VHS):
Tourist für einen Tag (237 KB)
A little bit of comfort in a foreign land
The Kulturcafé in Zell provides a meeting point for refugees and Germans alike – advice and proactive help included.
Loud, joyful laughter breaks through the multilingual hubbub that emanates from the main hall of the evangelical parish hall in the Zell district of Esslingen. New arrivals are greeted with a hearty welcome – in Arabic, “African”, English or German. There is scarcely a free table in sight. As on every Wednesday, refugees from the communal accommodation in the training centre’s sports hall meet with their fellow German citizens.
A report by Ulrike Rapp-Hirrlinger:
Ein Stück Geborgenheit in der Fremde (89 KB)
A new life in peace
Seeing life a new way – a refugee discovers his new surroundings. A photo exhibition by Mohammed Kanah.
Sixteen striking photographs were exhibited. At the same time, Mohammed Kanah told the numerous guests the simultaneously adventurous and moving tale of his escape.
A report by Adiyanti Sutandyo-Buchholz:
Das neue Leben in der Fremde (349 KB)