Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe: Building a bridge from home country to host country

Chromebooks help refugees communicate with family and friends back home and study German

Foto: © Johanniter/Stefan Simonsen

Foto: © Johanniter/Stefan Simonsen

April 2017. "This is supposed to be my new home?", Fatima asks and looks around. Germany is foreign to her. Her home in Syria no longer exists. Her son begged until she has agreed to go on the long journey to Europe. Now, she lives in Aurich. 

In Aurich, the nonprofit Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe offers courses for female refugees, to help them understand German culture and find their way in Germany. During the course Fatima gets to use a computer for the very first time and discovers the Internet.  An Arab-speaking employee shows Fatima how to use the Chromebook to connect with family and friends in her home country, to learn more about Germany and even study German online. The Chromebook is Fatima's bridge between her home country and her  new home in Germany. Fatima smiles.* 

Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe has received 500 Chromebooks from NetHope’s Project Reconnect to support their work with refugees in Germany. Project Reconnect was made possible through a grant from Google.org to provide refugees in Germany with access to online information and education resources. The Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe uses the Chromebooks at sites across Germany primarily to support integration and language courses.

Foto: © Johanniter/Stefan Simonsen

Foto: © Johanniter/Stefan Simonsen

The Chromebooks provide valuable support in the integration courses offered through Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe. In these courses, the refugees are taught about subjects like everyday life in Germany, shopping or health and learn about German conventions and virtues. "The volunteers in our German courses can not always coach each participant individually", reports Jürgen Wacker from the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe. "This is especially unsatisfactory for those graduates who want to reach a higher level fast in order to qualify as soon as possible for employment, training or university studies."

Ruth Hartmann, integration manager of the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe in Lower Saxony, is grateful for the Chromebooks. "They support the volunteer learning guides in the courses," she says, " they allow everyone to study at their own level. Refugees can solve tasks at the level of  difficulty that is right for them. This ability to study independently helps against frustration and keeps learners motivated." 

Foto: © Johanniter/Stefan Simonsen

Foto: © Johanniter/Stefan Simonsen

At many locations, especially women, children and young people use the Chromebooks in designated retreat rooms. While they study the German language and explore other aspects of life in Germany online, news from their home country and from loved ones they left behind are equally important. For some, the Chromebooks are the only way to keep that connection.

 

* Fatima's story is based on a report of the local chapter Aurich of the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe from February 2017. 

 

Post by Sybille Fleischmann, Project Lead, NetHope-Project Reconnect