Arbeiterwohlfahrt Berlin-Mitte: Refugee home in Berlin implements low maintenance laptop loan program 

December 2017. The district chapter “Kreisverband Berlin-Mitte” of the “Arbeiterwohlfahrt” (AWO) runs several welcome centers for refugees in and around Berlin. In some houses live several hundred people. For most of them, these facilities are the first place in Germany which comes close to being called a home. Project Reconnect donated Google Chromebook to these welcome centers of the organized worker welfare. Manuel Hinz, who is responsible for the laptops at one of these locations, set up a library-style loaner model: for four weeks, residents can borrow one of the Chromebooks and use it anywhere they want. 

In a series of short case studies we are introducing several Project Reconnect grantees and their different approaches to support refugees and asylum seekers with laptops and online content.  


Any refugee living in the welcome center can borrow a Chromebook for up to four weeks and use it wherever he or she wants - like in a library. 


“Internet access is important for every person,” says Manuel Hinz, Chromebooks’ administrator of an AWO site in Berlin, the ‘Refugium im Park Center Herzberge’. “For refugees,” he emphasizes, “it is especially important, as Internet often offers the only way for them to stay in touch with family members and friends.” Many use their smartphones to learn German or to learn about the asylum procedure, but often the phone is not enough. In those cases the Chromebooks are used. In the facility where Manuel Hinz works there is no room available to set up an Internet café and the internet connection is not very strong. For Manuel Hinz it was therefore clear: “We are setting up a loan model. Like in a library.“    

Residents of the facility embraced the opportunity - especially young people and young adults. Some use the Chromebooks on-site, but most take the laptops outside the facility and use free public networks, for example, in public libraries. 

Staff at the facility created a spreadsheet to remember who borrowed which Chromebook and when. When a user's loan period comes to an end, Manuel Hinz or another employee reminds the user about it. The system is working well and residents are thankful for the opportunities the laptops provide.  


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Case Study AWO Kreisverband Berlin-Mitte: Refugee home in Berlin implements low maintenance laptop loan program (pdf)