First, CDTM student Christian Klugow appeared on ARD speaking on behalf of his initiative, Then, other media outlets such as n-tv and the Süddeutsche Zeitung wanted to tell the story. So in the week that Germany announced its 1.1million incoming refugees for 2015 comfortably smashed previous annual records – we decided it was high time for Christian to speak to another esteemed source of news for Müncheners: the CDTM blog.

Throughout the summer of 2015, pictures of Munich Central Station were broadcast around the world, and for a while, the station was cast in national and international media as the final destination for so many refugees who’d travelled the famously tormenting route to Western Europe. Like many other locals, Christian went to the station on the first weekend thousands of refugees were expected. “I offered to help,” he says, “but there were just so many volunteers and hardly anything for me to do.” The Caritas scheduled an appointment but the next available slot was two months later.

It was rather fortuitous then, that Netlight sent a call to action in the CDTM jobs mailing list a few days after Christian had been turned away. The email asked for two students interested in helping refugees find work in Germany. Christian answered the call. In no time, he was researching German employment law and taking registrations of interest from refugees in the camp at Planegg.

In Planegg, Christian and fellow student, Robert Barr, collected the names of 130 refugees, and within a month, dozens of those people had been connected to employers. This preliminary success encouraged Netlight to extend the project and brought new sponsors on board. They hired three further working students in Munich and another two in Berlin. Christian says, “we have put 45 refugees in employment, and many more are in the pipeline ready to start work in Germany.”

According to Christian, initiatives like are sorely needed because “the actual process of registering a refugee until the point where he is in work takes far too long.” But with the help of new team members, more organisational funding (thanks largely to Netlight), better tools, and increased media coverage, hopes to continue streamlining the employment process.

In the meantime, the team has also sought to make refugees’ lives better in other ways. They have arranged hundreds of Micky Mouse cartoon books to be dispersed around camps to teach basic German. They have also come up with the ostensibly simple solution of handing out hundreds of earplugs to help people to get to sleep in the noisy shared living spaces typical of refugee accommodation.

Indeed, despite the fanfare that may have greeted refugees as they stepped onto a platform in Munich for the first time, Christian understands that putting foot-to-pavement at Munich Central Station is not nearly the finish line for refugees hoping to call Germany home. As encouraging as posters emblazoned with “Refugees Welcome” might be, new arrivals face immense obstacles on their path to assimilation – namely, finding gainful employment If you would like further information or are able and willing to help, please reach out to Christian through Certainly, 2016 is expected to be another busy year for the team and they are continually looking for support to expand their reach.

Author: Benjamin Borrow