Refugee Crisis: Innovative Ways Germans Are Welcoming Them
Refugees from Syria continue to walk through Europe.
By LOUISE DEWAST and ASTHAA CHATURVEDI
September 8, 2015, 1:05 PM
• 7 min read
-- Nearly 20,000 refugees arrived in Munich over the weekend, according to Bavarian authorities. And while there has been sporadic anti-migrant protests across Germany recently, many locals are finding original and heartwarming ways to welcome refugees.
The generosity of the German people has extended beyond train stations from classrooms to kitchens.
"Germany will be able to take in 500,000 refugees a year for a few years," Chancellor Angela Merkel's deputy Sigmar Gabriel said on local TV Monday, meaning Germany will be accepting more asylum seekers than any other European country.
Dozens of volunteers have been driving to Hungary and to the Serbian border, picking up refugees walking along the highway in the aim of helping them travel to Western Europe. At least 150 cars crossed back into Austria Monday.
In Dresden, a city in eastern Germany, entrepreneurs have launched a smartphone app to help asylum seekers find information on how to register with the authorities, get health insurance and find their way around. Peggy Reuter-Heinrich, the CEO of Heinrich & Reuter Solutions, which worked on the app with Saxonia Systems, said in a statement that the app would help refugees deal with bureaucracy better than paper documents.
Across Germany, dozens of universities are offering free classes for refugees -- while courses are free for Germans, asylum seekers are usually required to pay a fee. Humboldt Universität in Berlin is one of several who recently invited refugees to register as guest students.
Other programs are offering online courses with professors from around the country to provide opportunities for refugees.
In Berlin, a couple has started an "Airbnb" for refugees, where locals are invited to host refugees in their homes for a temporary period of time. To date, more than 780 people have participated, according to a statement from the company "Refugees Welcome."
Also in Berlin, one group has founded a culinary company which aims to bring Germans and refugees together through food. "Über den Tellerrand kochen" or Cooking Out of the Box, started in 2013, have released a cookbook and hold cooking classes for locals taught by refugees, as a cultural exchange. The initiative has reportedly reached 45 cities in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
“We aim to bring together two societies that are living parallel at the moment. Each person has something to offer and if you bring people together they can create something special," Lisa Thaens, an organizer of a cooking class program told ABC News.
In Munich, the beloved German soccer club Bayern Munich recently announced it was donating $1.11 million to help refugees and set up a training camp for children arriving in Munich. They will offer meals and German language classes to the kids taking part in the program.
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