Responding to the worldwide crisis, the URI community put out a global call to help refugee families. Inspired by seeing an Austrian Cooperation Circle's work, Global Council Trustee Marianne Horling started a similar program in Germany through Interkultureller Kreis URI Bonn CC (Intercultural Circle URI Bonn CC).
CC volunteers from different religious backgrounds not only taught the refugee children language through art – they also served as positive role models for interfaith cooperation. Marianne observes, “Perhaps the next generation will say, okay, we can also contribute something to the world.”
In 2015, more than 1 million refugees were registered in Germany alone. (Source: BBC News)
Member of the Intercultural Circle URI Bonn CC, in close cooperation with URI Germany CC, are working with refugees in German camps. Marianne Horling leads painting classes with refugee children. "I went there to care for the children, to play with them and to paint. They have such a lot of fun with painting! This is a medium to express themselves, because they don't speak our language or only rudimentary English," she shared. Horling has also organized donations of items such as clothes and toys.
Having a safe and welcoming space to learn a new language and express themselves is essential to a healthy adjustment as the children and their families learn a new culture and process their feelings of starting their lives over in a foreign place. The activities forge a sense of community, friendship, and belonging at the same time as they teach important new skills.
Other members of the Cooperation Circle have worked in a refugee camp outside the city of Bonn for about 2 years now. They teach German and play with the children to help them learn.