How we help

greece flag Greece

Mohammed, 14yrs – Accommodation, legal and social support at the YSC in Athens

Mohammed* is a 14 year old unaccompanied minor from Syria. After the war broke out in Syria and the many losses that Mohammed’s family faced, he and his remaining older brother decided to leave their home country and travel to Europe. In Europe, they wanted to seek refuge in Germany, where the oldest sister of the family resides. Mohammed and his older brother arrived on the island of Lesvos in Greece. They moved towards Northern Greece and the border area of Idomeni, in order to get to their sister in Germany. In an attempt to cross the borders and move on they lost each other in the havoc. Mohammed had a very good relationship with his brother and he was the only reliable caregiver he had during their search for refuge. After losing his brother the boy was devastated.

When the Youth Support Center team of ARSIS first met Mohammed through a referral from a refugee camp, he had no legal documents, no permanent shelter and no plans for the future. He was further very depressed by the loss of his brother equaling the loss of the last bit of security he had. ARSIS managed to get him legal documents, apply for family reunification with his sister and place him in a shelter for unaccompanied minors. After some time, ARSIS located his brother and together they decided that it was better for them to stay together, and so the boy was accommodated with his adult brother in a refugee camp together. Additionally to that, the young boy received full legal and psychosocial support, practical help (such as escorts to hospitals, services, etc.) and some in-kind support. He also got an affirmative answer on his family reunification and is now waiting for his turn to go through the family reunification system to Germany.


Daha & Hussein, 14 & 12yrs – Social and educational support at the YSC in Thessaloniki

Daha* is a 14 year old girl and her brother Hussein* is 12 years old. After a long journey they finally reached Thessaloniki together with their father Mahmut* in 2016. The Social Service staff of the Youth Support Center welcomed them and identified their specific needs. Daha stopped school two years ago because of the war. Back then she had to take on the role of the mother and most of her time she spent housekeeping. Daha was sad, anxious and disappointed with her situation. Her sadness stemmed not only from the abrupt end of her studies and the chase of her dream to become a doctor but also from the sudden disappearance of her mother who was lost during their trip. Also Hussein showed frustration, didn’t like to go to school and his only interest was to play games on the phone on his own.

sample picture, Foto: AUT_thumbs up, Credit: Caritas Internationalis © Caritas Internationalis

Mahmut, the family father, had a serious problem with his leg which strongly impeded his mobility outside of the house. He seemed anxious about his wife and their future in Thessaloniki. The family was referred to the psychologist of the YSC as well as to the street work team in order to enroll the children in school. The children started going to school and were provided with the necessary school equipment. After a few days first changes were visible. Daha was happier after every class and also Hussein left the phone at home, attentively sticking his nose into the books rather than the mobile device. Their interaction with children of other nationalities gave them the opportunity to benefit from a refreshing surge of energy.

During this period, the family learned that the mother was already safe in Sweden and that she already initiated the family reunification procedure. Both children asked to join the Swedish class in order to be ready for their new life reunited with their mother. Daha even started to dream about her career as a doctor again and specifically expressed her wish to become a pediatrician. Getting in touch with his wife anew gave Mahmut the optimism and energy to plan the family’s final trip after a long and difficult odyssey. At this moment, the family is finally reunited in Sweden.


italy flag Italy

Amaru, 23yrs – Accommodation and vocational training in Pescara

Amaru* is a guest at the Emmaus reception center and seeking asylum in Italy. He is 23 years old and studied to become a tailor in his home country, Nigeria. Because of his experience with fabrics and clothing as well as his desire to become a designer, the team of Emmaus reception center managed to enroll Amaru in a basic fashion stylist course in a Pescara School for Fashion Designers. Beforehand, social operators of the PIER Program provided Amaru with broad social, legal and job orientation in order to help him find his way in his new surroundings. Amaru is paying a symbolic contribution for his school attendance with the aim of having his competences recognized and in this way reconquering his autonomy in his new environment in Italy.


Moussa, 20yrs – Labour market integration in Genoa

sample picture, Foto: ITA_Labor market integration, Credit: Caritas Internationalis © Caritas Internationalis

Moussa* is a 20 year old man from Guinea, who arrived in Italy in June 2016 and has been living in a Caritas accommodation in Genoa since 2016. He cannot see on one eye due to an infection he went through as a child. He has never gone to school in his country of origin, which is the reason for his illiteracy, but he learned the trade of mechanic.

Since he arrived in Genoa, he has regularly participated in an Italian language course held by volunteers with constant interest and participation. Although Moussa had many learning difficulties, he quickly proved to be good at manual skills as he has a good practical sense. He always asked about opportunities to learn a new profession and was dreaming about finding a job in Italy. His desire to work was very strong and he finally got an opportunity to work as a trainee with a maintainer/gardener at a home for elderly people. Thanks to the PIER Program, a "social activation" contract as a bricklayer and gardener's aid was arranged. At the end of his training, the host institution expressed a strong intention to hire Moussa on a regular employment contract.


austrian flag Austria

Awini, 6yrs, learning support and promotion of independence at the “Lerncafé Mittersill”

Awini* came from Iraq to Austria during the Iraq war. When she first visited the “Lerncafé” Awini was very shy, kept hiding behind her big sister and was utterly dependent on her. Her German language skills were very poor and she had no confidence in her own abilities. Thanks to the great cooperation between the “Lerncafé” staff and the two young girls, Awini managed to open up and now seems much more comfortable within a group of people. Today, Awini is outgoing and communicative, has the courage to share her opinions, is laughing a lot with the other children and the volunteers and is always eager to do her homework and exercises right. But most of all, Awini got much more independent and doesn’t need her big sister to constantly assist her anymore. Even more than that: There are already some tasks where Awini fully refuses the support of her sister and insists in doing them on her own.


Karim, 12yrs – Learning support at the “Lerncafé Nenzing”

Karim*, aged 12, has been attending the “Lerncafé” in Nenzing since it has opened its doors to the children in 2017. He attends a 7th grade German tutoring class in a Special Education Center. When Karim came to the “Lerncafé” for the first time for a trial day it quickly became obvious that he needed support with his studies but also with his social interactions. The “Lerncafé” staff identified one of the highly engaged volunteers, who immediately started to study with Karim. Karim instantly showed that he liked to learn and study and it was obvious which areas are his strong suits and where he needed additional support.

Now Karim enjoys coming to the “Lerncafé” and feels at ease there. The exchange with his school teacher is important and helpful when tracking his progress. In this vein, study goals have been set and a special education plan was elaborated so that Karim could no longer avoid learning German. This education plan gave Karim and the volunteer a clear framework for their studies. Since he started visiting the “Lerncafé”, Karim has made a great progress in his education as well as in his social skills.

In the long run and following his new path, Karim may even manage to leave the Special Education Center and to continue his studies in a regular Middle school. He likes to write stories on his own and practices a lot and voluntarily. He gets along with the other children at the “Lerncafé” well. This is also an improvement for him even though he remains skeptical about every new acquaintance he makes.


sample picture, Foto: Lerncafe, Credit: Christian Dusek © Christian Dusek

Mina, 12yrs – Learning support and afternoon care at the “Lerncafé Herzogenburg”

Twelve year old Mina* came to the registration interview in 2017 with her single father. Her father holds the sole custody; there is no contact to the mother. Noticeable was that Mina nearly didn’t speak to anybody, had poor grades in school and showed little motivation in doing her homework or in preparing for tests and exams. During the few months, the staff of “Lerncafé Herzogenburg” was able to build a relationship with the young girl and she learned to open herself up to other people. Since then, Mina is actively demanding learning support, developed to being a hard working student and managed to end the school year with positive grades. All of this enabled her to move up to the next school level. The staff of the “Lerncafé Herzogenburg” is delighted by her success and from time to time you can even see a shy smile on Mina´s face.


* The beneficiaries’ names have been changed to protect their personal privacy