We at Visioneers have made it our mission to bring together German youngsters with young refugees from countries in crisis. With the help of a grant from the Berlin State Office for Development Cooperation we have been able to further develop our Sewing Workshop program. Since June 2016 we have run a weekly three-hour sewing workshop in which youngsters from different cultures can come together as peers and get to know each other.
Each workshop begins with a group discussion in which we run over what was done the previous week and what will be done in today’s session. We also discuss sewing and textiles in their wider context, looking at the theoretical background aswell as relevant political and development issues. The youngsters are also given the opportunity to express their own suggestions and ideas and discuss them with the group. Next the youngsters begin work on their sewing projects. The focus here is on facilitating mutual support and cooperation between the youngsters, regardless of their background. At the end of each session the group comes together again to review what has been done and to get an overview of the itinerary for the upcoming weeks. The whole session is conducted in a relaxed atmosphere, since fun and friendship are the principle objectives of the workshops.
The workshops are conducted completely in German and are led by the highly creative Julia of Funkelfaden.de. Each week Julia thinks up a new theme and an exciting project. Our workshops give the young refugees attending the opportunity to interact with the German language and culture in a pressure-free environment. At the same time the young German participants are given the chance to get to know a new culture and learn more about the living conditions in the home countries of the refugees.
Many of the attendees of the workshops have worked in the textiles industry in their home countries, working - either after finishing school or indeed instead of attending school - in factories producing clothes that are then sold cheaply in countries such as Germany. The creative element offered by the workshops is new to them, in spite of how experienced they may be with a sewing machine. The German youngsters attending the workshops generally have little understanding of the living conditions in the home countries of the refugees. In particular they lack an awareness of the wider issues surrounding one of their favourite past times – clothes shopping - having little idea of the conditions under which the clothes they buy are produced.
The backgrounds of the two groups could not therefore be more different, and yet both groups now live in Germany and are part of the same community. At the workshops we aim to deepen mutual understanding between the two groups, to promote integration and to increase understanding of the causes driving refugees to flee their home countries.
Since July 2016 the sewing workshops, which take place at Cafe Connections, have been regularly attended by both German youngsters as well as young refugees. Often all the participants cook and eat together before getting down to the sewing itself.
We would like to express our thanks for the support offered by
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