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S2g Brandenburg - a situation report

In recent months, the pandemic has severely restricted refugees' access to many institutions and aid structures. For us, too, access to shelters has been a challenge. The alternative has been to use online services, which has had little success for many refugees because they have little or no access to the Internet, lack the appropriate hardware, and sometimes have little knowledge of how to use these platforms. Therefore, it is good for us to meet these women in their shelters, inform, motivate and empower them.

However, despite the challenges of traveling long distances to meet the women, we have been able to conduct counseling sessions and workshops in 12 shelters in Brandenburg since the beginning of the year. Our team, consisting of four women (French-speaking, English-speaking and Farsi-speaking), have conducted workshops in the shelters in Marsow, Kunersdorf, Hohenleipisch, Johimsthal, Lauchhamer, Potsdam, Bad-Belzig, Wünsdorf and Bliesdorf. We also offer consultations at the Refugees Emancipation office in Potsdam.

The topics of reproductive health and physical and sexual self-determination are central to our counseling sessions. At the same time, other topics come up in our counseling practice, which we also work on. These include:

Little or no access to German language courses

The isolation of the home (remote location, poor access)

The living conditions (cramped rooms, little to no privacy)

The delay or denial of legal residency

Racism and daily discrimination in the homes

The slowness to get a work permit.

What we have achieved so far

Our biggest success has been the fact that we have been able to meet many women in their homes, inform them about different problems in the asylum process and motivate them.

We have met women who have many competencies and skills and can be multipliers. Some of these women were invited to Potsdam for further training.

We have made a positive difference in the lives of many women, especially those who successfully applied and got a place at the Viadrina University Frankfurt Oder.

Our presence in such places sometimes goes beyond informing and motivating. Often we are a psychological support for women who feel abandoned and rejected by the conditions of residence.

Our challenges

1. in the team we are constantly confronted with questions about laws and regulations concerning the asylum system. Therefore, we need regular training on the current legal situation in order to be able to provide concrete assistance in our counseling.

2. our resources are very limited. The 10 hours per week for coordination are extremely insufficient. As coordinator, I make contact with the camps and organize the content of the workshops, I am present at all workshops and give input in most of them. I prepare the reports on the workshops and most importantly I do the follow-up by keeping in touch with the women and doing follow-up consultations. All of this is very time consuming. The position should be funded full time!

3. we are not able to cover some important languages like Arabic and Russian because we have limited resources.

Despite all these difficulties, we have reached many women this year and will continue our work! Individuals and institutions who would like to support us are welcome to contact us at (S2G Brandenburg) and (S2G Berlin)!

Under this link you will find possibilities to support our work financially.

Please indicate "Space2groW" as the purpose. Thank you for your solidarity!

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