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“We do not take us to integrate him, but to watch a movie together or to talk.” Or to cook, to do sports, to visit friends, to celebrate. When Peter Mattenklodt reports what he and his wife Annette and their three children do and experience with the young asylum seekers, it becomes apparent quickly: an unaccompanied minor refugee (UM) has found best friends in Bamberg.
The family of five from Gaustadt has taken the 17-year-old African in their hearts. He is one of 20 so called “UM”, for whom the Don Bosco Jugendwerk has currently sought and found godparents in Bamberg. Ideally godparents do what youth services providers and their staff cannot afford: put some warmth and take the adolescents in their family, perhaps even in their professional networks. “The godparents do very much for the social acceptance of refugees,” says Youth-total conductor Emil Hartmann.
The urban Youth Office also reports only good experience with these sponsorships for refugees. From the perspective of Christine Behringer-Zeis, office manager at the Youth Office, it is important that godparents are supported professionally. The Don Bosco Jugendwerk cares for this exemplary. She points out, that if this would not be done there would be a risk, that godfathers go beyond their limits or the target. Doing everything to clear stones out of the young people’s ways. That would be fatal, according to Behringer-Zeis. Her explanation: “The young men have managed to come here crossing thousands of kilometers. So no one – for God’s sake – should seduce them to become dependent.”
Warmth and more
The Youth Office and the responsibles at the Don Bosco Jugendwerk (Regina Jans is in charge for the project) expect the godparents to give young people family security, to introduce them to the everyday life and culture in their host country.
They should learn the necessary key qualifications, the key skills you need to succeed in professional live. In addition to that they should also get to know social differences, for example the role of women in the Western world.
Trunk: Enormous potential
The Don Bosco Jugendwerk is the only youth supporter in Bamberg that works consistently with integration godparents in the care of UM. The sponserships are also supported by regional economy. IHK President Heribert Trunk believes that these sponserships are important and needed to integrate young asylum seekers in the labor market. 55 percent of them are under 25 years old. “An enormous potential,” says Trunk, “but hardly discovered.”
The Bamberger entrepreneur has been supporting the Don Bosco Jugendwerk and his Schülerpaten project for quite some time. Two years ago this project was adopted 1:1 to young refugees, as Hartmann says. And with measurable success: All 15 UMs from the first generation managed to graduate from secondary school in summer. Head of Don Bosco Jugendwerk Hartmann is nearly as proud on this fact als the graduates themselves. One of these successful graduates is the “godchild” of family Mattenklodt. The 17-year-old even passed the “Quali” (special degree) – a tremendous achievement, considering that the young African came to Bamberg one and a half year ago – not speaking a single German word. Meanwhile, he is training for a technical profession. Word of the good experiences in Bamberg has spread. Also thanks to Trunks “Advertising” the integration sponserhip model will soon be realized in the area of Kulmbach and Hof. In Bamberg it is supported by three institutions: the Don Bosco Jugendwerk, the Foundation Chance Jugend and the Schmid-Kayser Foundation. Not only the young refugees benefit when individuals or families care for them a bit. As a godparent you also get back a lot, especially on the human level. Also in the family from Gaustadt the contact with the friend from Africa apparently developed after a short time to a win-win situation. All five family members experience the sponsorship as an enrichment, the father assures. He smiles from ear to ear when he says that his children’s interest in family activities has increased significantly, since the 17-year-old came into their lives. Peter Mattenklodt: “If he comes, chances are increased that I see my own two big kids in the evening.” The man from Gaustadt says, that there were no bad experiences connected with the takeover of the sponsorship. But quite the opposite. Mattenklodt says that some friends were skeptical initially. Then they met the young refugee and stored reservations. Some of his friends are now even “infected” and have taken a sponsorship themselves.
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