With around 1,1 million refugees having been registered in Germany in 2015 and around 160,000 of them in Bavaria, Germany is still facing a tough challenge on an integrative as well as a logistical level. The “Bayernkaserne” (Bavaria barracks) in the north of Munich is one of the biggest reception centers for immigrants in Germany and currently houses around 1,500 refugees.
Markus, one of the founders of the “Lernwerkstatt“ (training workshop) is our guide for the tour of this interdisciplinary educational/recreational/integrative model. What the Lernwerkstatt offers is an insight into craftsmanship ranging from painting, electricity, plumbing, drywall installation to woodwork for both men and women. The founders had the idea while waiting for a craftsmen company in front of the Bayernkaserne for many hours. When looking at the refugees inside the barracks they realized that there were many young men and women willing to become a valuable part of society. That’s why they started the Lernwerkstatt in June 2015. Since then around 400 men and a few women have participated in the program.
All teachers at the Lernwerkstatt are working on a voluntary basis besides their regular jobs. They are fellows or masters of the craftsmen’s guild or engineers who are willing to support the cause. The basic training provided in the Lernwerkstatt (regardless of the sector they are working in) is always divided into a theoretical and a practical part. The theoretical part is focused on imparting knowledge of the craft such as workplace security, an introduction to the tools, delving into the different fields of application. In the practical part teachers practice some of the easy operations of the different crafts like how to bend and cut steel, how to chalk a wall or how to install ceiling panels but also some trickier jobs like ornamentation of walls or interconnecting power lines – tasks that are highly rewarding for the students.
“It is the first step on a long journey”, says Markus our tour guide. What the Lernwerkstatt is trying to accomplish is to give young men and women orientation, to show them a path they can follow and to give them something to do because recreational activities in the reception centers for immigrants are rather sparse.
Follow this link to find out more about the Lernwerkstatt and how to support them.