BY: JESSICA BEUKER
The current state of the refugee crisis, in which more than 3.8 million Syrian citizens are fleeing their country to escape violence and religious domination, is being met with a number of positive solutions. Citizens across Europe are beginning to take matters into their own hands by implementing open door policies. And now, a Berlin-based group has been inspired to do the same by launching a website that is basically the Airbnb for refugees.
Refugees Welcome is a website that matches refugees with citizens in Germany who are willing to accommodate them. So far, the site has helped find homes for people fleeing from Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria. Spaces have been offered up by students, couples, single mothers and retirees.
The site works by having users register their space and provide basic information. After that, they are matched with a person who has fled their city through a refugee organization. According to Notable, the website finds ways to finance rent through job centres, social welfare payments and donations made to the site.
Currently the site is tailored only to Germany, but the program has plans to extend their service to other countries in Europe. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with inquiries coming from Europe, Australia and the U.S.
The service also encourages a cultural exchange where the host would assist in helping refugees learn the common language and adjust to their new environment. According to the Guardian, teacher Johann Schmidt shares his apartment in Konstanz with an Iraqi refugee. “Azad tells me about his home country time and again, and can explain the overall context of the current situation to me in simple terms,” Schmidt said. “I’ve learned quite a bit from him already and very much enjoy listening to his stories.”
So far over 100 migrants have been matched with homes across Germany — which is expected to receive 800,000 refuge seekers this year. The growth of sites like Refugees Welcome is beneficial on many levels. They provide homes to people in urgent need, while also allowing the host to invest in kindness and form a connection to those who need it most.