Over the last couple of weeks, the students from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) set out to the Patrick Henry-Village to witness the impact of the latest state of the refugee crisis not only facing Germany but the entire world.
Patrick Henry-Village is a refugee center based in the heart of Germany housing asylum seekers from North Africa, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, and many other countries. In only a few visits to this refugee center, it was made clear that there is not just one identity for a “refugee”. Instead, we have realized that each refugee has their own story, own way of coping with their current situation, and own methods of adaptation to their new environment. With just four months to learn how the Patrick Henry-Village operates, come up with ways to improve their schedule, and overall make even the smallest difference, we needed to take this task head on.
Through our first half of service at the Patrick Henry-Village we were able to apply our business operation and supply chain knowledge to pick out minor inefficiencies that could ease the daily operations at the refugee center.
To simply address the inefficiencies, the following points are my written notes from my times working at the refugee center:
- Lacking translators for a given language
- Refugees misunderstanding appointment times that are written in German
- Disconnection between Counseling Center security and staff
- Countless language barrier miscommunications
- Refugees awaiting a counselor who is not working/called out that day
- Limited structured/scheduled programs for children
- Under-utilizing the volunteers
- Male security guards working at female-specific housing
These are points that could be easily adjusted to improve the daily operations for the staff as well as the refugees. Given the time and opportunities, we were able to finally decide how exactly the students from The College of New Jersey would represent their school and make their impact on the greatest migration of people since World War II.
At this point in time (October 16th), we are in the beginning stages of creating and implementing our own youth program for the children seeking refuge at the Patrick Henry-Village. Working as project manager for our new program, TCNJ’s Kid At Play (K.A.P), my aspirations are to gradually impact the youth in a positive manner by adding a little bit more structure and schedule to their daily lives. With all of our majors combined, the students at TCNJ have now appointed two Finance chairs managing all donation money being spent, two Language chairs that will teach basic German classes, two Math chairs focusing on the basics with money and counting, and two Arts & Crafts chairs that will supply materials and assist the children in crafting keepsakes for them to take home. In addition to these classes, two Youth Sports chairs will run one program for minors under 14 years old and another program from minors 14-17 years old. Lastly, our program will trust in two Donation & Shopping chairs to accurately allocate how to utilize our donation money and subsequently reach out to local german businesses to partner with TCNJ’s K.A.P. in creating a better life for the refugee children at the Patrick Henry-Village.
We do have a great task on our hands but I do believe in what my aunt quoted from the South African social rights activist, Desmond Tutu when I updated her on what we will be doing while in Germany. She said to me, “Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” So at that, I say to my fellow TCNJ K.A.P. volunteers, let us always remember to overwhelm this world with little bits of good at a time.