AFSers in Austria are helping refugees all over the world under the umbrella of the AFS Refuge Aid Foundation (by Markus E. Langer)
Global awareness through AFS also often leads to a multitude of global activities by AFS volunteers. In Austria, forty years ago, a group of AFSers initiated the AFS Refugee Aid Foundation after they and many other AFS volunteers helped refugees of the Vietnam War to integrate in Austria. Refugee aid has since been part of regular AFS activities of many AFSers volunteering in Austria! However, a few years ago, helping refugees became a very bureaucratic endeavor in Austria and in many other countries. That is why AFS Refugee Aid Foundation offers an organizational basis and financial support for refugee aid in Austria and globally.
Brigitte, an AFS mother and her family are hosting and supporting a Syrian refugee-family. They are helping them learn German and cope with everyday challenges like dealing with bureaucracy or the homework of the children coming from school.
Christine, also an AFS mother and former teacher is helping locally in Austrian refugee camps. She is supporting families from Syria and is offering language courses together with other teachers. She and her family are hosting a refugee from Afghanistan. After two years, Ahmed now speaks German almost fluently and has a job at a large truck dealer. However, he might be forced to go back to Afghanistan, even though he had to flee from the Taliban.
Both Christine and Brigitte are receiving financial support for their activities by the AFS Refugee Aid Foundation.
Martin, an AFSer and medical doctor, is working together with two organizations on behalf of the AFS Refugee Aid Foundation. He supports refugees in Austria in dealing with traumatic experiences through special courses or family outings and other social activities.
Agnes, a long term AFS volunteer oversees a project in Lebanon offering support and schooling to children-refugees from Syria, some of them orphans. Like many other projects of the AFS Refugee Aid Foundation, this project is also run in collaboration with local organizations.
Carolyne, another AFS volunteer is organizing the projects in South Sudan and Kenia and is presently trying to tackle the challenges of an incredibly brutal civil war. The AFS Refugee Aid Foundation had to frequently shift the focus of its activities due to the local situation.
There are many more examples of how AFS volunteers and families are supporting refugees. The AFS Refugee Aid Foundation is also raising funds to support several projects to help refugees to restart their lives, either in Austria or in other countries. The focus is especially on areas of support, which are not broadly visible in the media. The activities of the AFS Refugee Aid Foundation were also recognized by the AFS Intercultural Programs Galatti Award in 1984 to its founder, Erich Langer, for outstanding volunteer contributions.
Find more information about the AFS Refugee Aid Foundation here.
Some of the people active in the field of refugee aid and people they support do not want to be known by name or be recognizable on pictures due to the increasingly challenging political situation concerning refugees. Thus, no full names are given, some names are changed, and some pictures do not show (all) the faces or are blurry.