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Update – Visioneers Mentoring Program

Visioneers e.V. has set itself the task of establishing a Mentoring Program for refugees, which helps enable displaced people in Berlin to become active members of society, for example through an internship, vocational training and / or regular employment. Volunteer mentors are partnered up with a refugee and help them in achieving personal goals, such as finding accommodation. The refugees who have taken part in the program so far come mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the beginning of the mentoring program in March 2016, 17 tandems have been formed, which meet regularly and work together to integrate the mentees into everyday life.

The project has received 5000 Euro from the Pfferwerk Foundation. Many thanks for this support!

Review of the Last 6 Months

March 2016: Information Meeting for Refugees

The first information meeting for refugees interested in the Mentoring Program took place. Interviews were then conducted with our potential mentees.

March 2016: Kick-off Meeting for Mentors

The Mentoring Program was officially kicked off with a launch event on the 30th of March, for anyone interested in taking on a mentoring role or in otherwise engaging with Visioneers. This event was supported by Mrs Ellahe Amir-Haeri of Bridge-Bleiberecht Berlin. In her presentation Ms. Amir-Haeri spoke in detail about the current residence regulations in Germany. This was followed by a question and answer session, in which all outstanding issues could be addressed. A presentation was then given on the Mentoring Program by volunteer Robert Bernau.

March 2016: Bakesale at Wayfair

In March Wayfair invited us to organise another bakesale as part of their "Wellness Week". The event was organised together with 10 Wayfair employees and some of our mentees. It was a great day and 450 Euros was raised for the Mentor Program and our workshops. The mentees got to know both the Wayfair employees and Wayfair as a company. To find out more watch our video:

April 2016: Job Application Training at Mobile Job

Steffen and Alice gave our mentees an overview on how to write job applications, pointing out certain aspects that they must pay close attention to. In addition to the presentation our mentees were encouraged to participate and start working on their own resumes. The session closed with cake and chatting in the kitchen!

April 2016: Zalando Computer Training Workshop

An employee of the IT department at Zalando invited our mentees to a computer workshop. To find out more watch our video:

May 2016: Free Professional CV Photos

Photographer Florin has taken free photos of our mentees for use in their CVs and job applications.

May 2016: Syrian cooking evening at Helpling

On the 18th of May our cooking crew was invited to hold a cooking evening at the company offices of Helpling. Issam prepared, as always, a delicious dinner for 20 Helpling employees to enjoy together with some of the Visioneers refugees. The group enjoyed relaxed conversation on a range of interesting topics. As a thankyou Helpling set up a donation box for us in the week after the event and nearly 600 Euros was collected. For more info on our event at Helpling, here's a video, produced by Paul Schaerf:

July 2016: Cooking Evening at ResearchGate

On the 13th of July we were invited to hold a dinner with refugees at ResearchGate. Once Issam discovered the grill in the yard, it was soon clear that the meal would be converted into a Syrian BBQ. There was, as always, delicious food, which the staff enjoyed together with our refugees whilst they got to know each other. Thanks to ResearchGate for the invitation!

August 2016: HWR Summer School for Refugees

Some of our mentees took part in the Summer School at the High School for Economics and Law.

August 2016: Cooking Evening at Startup Blinkist

On Tuesday we organized another cooking evening in a Berlin office. This time we cooked, ate and chatted with Blinkist - thank you for the great evening! The mentees had the opportunity to meet the startup, the employees and the founders.

Weekly Activities for Mentees:

• Guitar Lessons Every Tuesday Simon is giving 4-6 refugees guitar lessons. Of his students, 4 are also part of the mentoring program.

• Football Training Every Tuesday we play football from 14.00 to 16.00 in Schöneberg. The training takes place in cooperation with the association Athletes in Action. The goal of the training sessions is to get to know the young refugees, and to encourage and promote their integration. We are always looking for volunteers to attend the training sessions.

• Art Workshop In July we launched our art workshop “Painting and Drawing” at Café Connections. The first session focused on the topic of composition and saw the students creating their own postcards. In the second session the focus was Basic Sketch, for which the class produced still life drawings. We look forward to the next sessions with Ariel Fantasy!

• Photography Workshop Every Friday there is a photography workshop, for photography with both cameras and mobile phones.

• Sewing Workshop Our Sewing Workshop is held every Wednesday from 14:00 to 16:00 on the Red Island in Schöneberg. This is organized by our volunteer artist Julia. The owner of the Christian Café Connections allows us to hold the workshops in their space, a fine example of private voluntary work being facilitated and coordinated through Visioneers e.V. We are currently exploring ways in which we can further apply this concept.

• German Conversation Course Every Thursday Eva leads two Conversational German courses (A2, B1 level). Mentees often do not have the opportunity to practice their German language skills, so in our partner café, Café Connections in Schöneberg, we invite German-language assistants to come and chat with refugees. This gives the refugees the opportunity to practice and improve their German language skills in an informal setting.

• Monthly Meeting Once a month there will be a meeting for all mentors. This is led by consultant and mediator Gerhild Mechthild von Schwerin. Mentors can share experiences, ask questions and ask for help.

  • Regular feedback meetings between all parties involved in the program: consultant, mentor, mentee, employers and public bodies

  • Monitoring of the mentors and mentees from the start to the end of the project.

First Success Stories

Weekly Cooking Session at Plista

Since the beginning of July our Syrian cooking crew has been serving lunch every Friday at plista. We have been able to hire Issam and Omar from our Mentoring Program to work for 6 hours per week on this project. Issam and his helpers prepare vegetarian and non-vegetarian specialties for 30 plista employees. The lunch is in great demand and is always booked up quickly. It is funded partly by the employees, who decide how much they want to pay for the lunch, and plista then tops up this total with its own donation. We are very excited about this great collaboration!

Update from Mentor Eva

"I’ve been mentoring Lin for around 3 months now. Initially her objectives were somewhat vague. Her principal aim was to improve her German, and she thought that an internship or a job would help her to do this. After talking it through together however, we realised that a German school was probably the better choice, as it would offer a more structured environment for language learning. We then found a German school, and despite the very high workload (Lin had to catch up on a few months of teaching material) Lin enthusiastically engaged in the course, talking openly with me about her fears and the difficulties she encountered, and trusting me that she could do this. The German course has now finished and Lin is planning to start a qualifying course in business and administration this Autumn. I am always surprised at how inquisitive and hardworking Lin is and how open she is to every new challenge. "

New Leather Workshop led by Mouod from Iran Mouod is a 35-year-old electrical engineer from Iran, who would like to turn his hobby as a designer into an occupation. From October he will lead a weekly workshop, funded by LSK, for the design of leather products. The products will be made available to purchase online. Starting this Autumn he will lead the Leather Workshop once a week, being hired through Visioneers as an intern thanks to the funding received from LSK.

Internship and Accommodation for Hogir

Hogir comes from a Kurdish area of northern Iraq. He is 29 years old and came to Germany alone. In October 2015 Hogir met one of our mentors, Robert, at a weekly cooking evening in the Wannsee Baptist Church. Hogir wanted to move out of the refugee centre in Wannsee and into his own apartment. This became the first project that he and Robert worked on together, and which was achieved in March 2016. Since then Hogir has lived in a flat in Berlin-Treptow with another refugee who escaped from Syria. The next of Hogir’s goals was to find an internship. With the help of the Visioneers workshop “How to Write a Resume?”, Hogir secured an internship in July 2016 at the Kurdish Center e.V, where he works in the reception area and helps with events. Other objectives are to attend an integration course and to secure a long-term residence permit.

We at Visioneers e.V. are very excited about the development of the participants in the Mentoring Program and look forward to the next steps. We thank all the volunteers and participants for their time, interest and commitment.

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