How has Asyl Spenge evolved since the beginning

(by Annemarie Leiser-Ellersiek, 09/15/2021)

This “ABC” does not claim to be up-to-date, because the almost two-year Corona break interrupted the work of Asyl Spenge (forced!).
But it can remind us once again how Asyl Spenge developed from the very beginning.
At this point I would like to remind you of Brigitte Janssens, lawyer Stephanie Lampe and Erhard Krull, who got involved with Asylum Spenge and the refugees in very different ways.

A …like beginning

It all started on January 9th, 2014. Christine Hartmann, Karl Hankel and I started the course with 12 participants, all men and only one woman: Renate Belo!
I remember our first day of the course very clearly, I can still see Renate, Hamid and Tewelde very clearly in front of my eyes.

B …like educational offer

Our 2014 educational offering started with 12 participants and soon we had a full house!
When we then had so many participants that the group had to split up, we also mastered this challenge well.
Back then, Monika Lorenz commuted with her group from the community center to the evangelical community center every morning!

C …like Charbel

Charbel, with his charisma, his charm, was a Christian and one of the few who wanted to go back to his homeland, Lebanon, of his own accord. He soon left us with his parents. Erhard Krull, who later visited Charbel in Beirut, reported on his visit to him and his marriage.
(Addendum to Charbel: Charbel, like many Beiruters, also lost his livelihood, a small vegetable shop, in the catastrophic bomb explosion in the port of Beirut!)

D …like German

German language difficult language! Learn German!
This was and is an enormous effort for our refugees, which I became very clearly aware of when, decades later, like a schoolgirl, I had to go into the “depths and shallows” of my mother tongue to look for methods of how to communicate as a foreigner could learn our language in a meaningful way.
Despite our first course book “The Thannheimer Model”, it wasn’t that easy.

E …like experts

Experts, these were people from different institutions, such as the employment agency, AWO, immigration office, diaconia, refugee council, women’s counseling centers, health department, municipal integration center, the city of Spenge and here in particular the experts from the Spenge social welfare office, who, in good cooperation, shared their experiences with us shared.

F …like flight, refugees, strangers

Landing in Spenge was hard for most of the refugees, because strangers from different backgrounds and cultures had to live very close together: at the train station, in Eschstrasse, etc., and for some refugees the landing was particularly hard when you Arrived in December 2015 at the gym.
Today we have different circumstances, the city of Spenge managed that well in terms of housing. Asylum Spenge made it possible to set up the apartments, accompanied and facilitated settling in Spenge.
This made it possible for many people and families to take a step towards integration.

G …like permits

At the beginning of our work, permits of any kind were an “open sesame!”!
In the beginning, it took a lot of effort to get a language course, an internship, or even a job approved.
At that time, all refugees in Germany were faced with really, really high walls.

H …like aids

The donations from the Weser-Energie company, the honorary award from the city of Spenge, the large donation from the Spieltrieb group, the donations from the Rainbow Comprehensive School in Spenge and the invitation from the refugee council to the Zeche Zollverein were undoubtedly helpful in recognizing and encouraging our voluntary work , where we could present our work.
Many other donations that are not listed here have always been of great help to us.

I …like individual support

Individual support was an important part of our work right from the start and went far beyond the course, for example by accompanying the refugees to the doctor, helping them to understand the mail they received from the authorities or helping them to fill out various applications were. Individual support will remain part of our job.

J …like cheers

We experienced jubilation in Minden when an application for asylum was granted in the Minden court. Annegret Beckmann will definitely remember how happy and relaxed we drank coffee in the sun after the trial!

K …like childcare

Childcare has been a great success for us!
So my question about childcare goes to Monika Wolk:
“Monika, how many children have grown up in our rooms?”

L …like songs

Singing songs together, mostly in canon, was a great way to open hearts.
Rudi’s violin then helped us to keep the melodies, and we also sang the song “Our grandma drives a motorbike in the chicken coop!”, but our grandma was not yet an “environmental pig” (see a press release from 2019!).

M …like courage, effort

Our refugees had shown courage when they made their way here, and they also had a lot of trouble behind them.

N … like closeness

Closeness could develop between the team and the refugees, and our refugees confided in us a lot: income overviews, payment arrears, criminal notices, police interrogations and much more!

O…like an ovation

Oh, oh, oh! – Oh dear, oh dear, the O is missing! It’s so missing!
O my goodness? What’s lost? Where is the O gone?
Do you remember that we initially communicated in English (Denglisch!)?
Now let’s take the O and donate:
“Overwhelming ovations for our organizer K(o)arl”, who has guided us through the years and made us understand the meaning of German proverbs and sayings!

P …like planning, punctuality

Of course, planning how to make progress in the German language after each day of the course was possible: at my desk!
But, we soon realized that we had to be extremely flexible, especially when it came to punctuality, but also attendance.

Q …like agony

Torments were forgotten after successes and successes were (and are) always in good hands in the group, be it:
finally approved German courses at AWO or VHS, approvals for internships, successful job search, the German driver’s license or even a successful apprenticeship, finally your own room or finally even your own apartment (“Talk to Anne Beckmann!”).

R …like space, rest

Space and tranquility:
In our room in the community center I could often feel how our refugees accepted the room, relaxed there and came to rest. The community center was a safe space for them and enabled them to let go of all tension during the course.

S …like donations

There were plenty of donations, and the willingness to help of the citizens of Spengen sometimes surprised me!

T …like trauma, sadness, grief, death

Trauma, sadness, often lay like shadows over our encounters in the course.
We are saddened by Mensur’s death. Mensur from Eritrea, who died here, alone in a foreign country, without his family! Maybe died of a broken heart?

U …like environment, environment

We wanted to give our refugees a better understanding of our surroundings and their environment through many excursions. The trip to the Osnabrück Zoo, for example, was a great experience for the children!

V …like trust

Let’s trust that we will be remembered!
Our Christmas parties are always well attended and have contributed significantly to trusting us, I think!

W …like warehouse

In the attic in the community center, our warehouse, some rummaged as if in paradise.
At the very beginning of our course, I remember both Christine Hartmann and I hesitatingly wondering if it would be appropriate to offer the refugees used clothing.
After we dared to lay out warm, worn jackets for the first time, we realized that our scruples were part of our prosperity thinking. All clothing was of great value to our refugees.

X & Y …how ?

An X for a Y, tell me, after six years of work at Asyl Spenge, no one can fool you that quickly anymore, and we don’t let ourselves be fooled by a Y or an X, from whichever side!

Z …like future

Future?
Quite a lot of our refugees have managed to get a perspective and have managed to stand on their own two feet!
This gives us a good feeling and strengthens our voluntary teamwork!

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