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WillkommensGarten e.V. — Urban Gardening with Refugees

 Willkommensgarten
The last couple of months have seen an increasing number of refugees from war-torn countries like Syria and other places trying to reach Europe and Germany in particular. WillkommensGarten e.V. is a student initiative located in Kiel/Germany. This association does active work to integrate refugees, most of which were forced to leave their country for a number of reasons. These refugees often only have little financial resources and live in precarious spatial and social circumstances.

Our team was founded by seven students from Christian Albrechts University of Kiel. We try to integrate these refugees into the German society. Another major task is to create a platform of safety and the effort to allow them free scope. The whole concept connects urban gardening with a welcoming culture for refugees. The student initiative started in May 2015. We founded the association and are on the way to get the recognized from the state of Schleswig-Holstein to become a “friendy society”. Willkommensgarten e.V works in close cooperation with the Yooweedoo Changemaker concept founded by Prof. Dr. Christoph Corves. Thanks to a grant we got from the Changemaker programm, we could realize this project and establish it in our region. Also we created networks with other civil society associations to cooperate and exchange information. The interactive network that has developed allows us to force problems better and find creative ways to come to sustainable solutions.

We founded the association “WillkommensGarten”, to be able to lease urban gardens, which we can work on together with refugees. The idea is that continuous contact leads to a base of friendship and trust. Another task is to be a contact person for refugees. We want to give them a platform for questions and want to act as a mediator between public and private society, as well as the government. Furthermore our plan is to introduce tandem partnerships with the refugees, so that everyone has one direct contact person, who can help with everyday problems or in communication with the authorities. These tandems can be important starting points to show that a friendly and welcoming society in Kiel is possible. This is the social aspect behind Willkommensgarten e.V and why we think that we would fit into the civil society community of GES perfectly.

As mentioned above we also do urban gardening. Our yields are not only filled with healthy, sustainable grown, local crops, they also can be a financial discharge for refugees. All of the output from the harvest process will benefit the refugees directly. Urban gardening also brings people together, a goal that we as WillkommensGarten e.V. pursue and that keeps us motivated.

This is how we want to work on social change. The more local actors, the greater the success.