i58 counts it a privilege to reach out to refugees in different places along their journey. In 2021, we began sending teams to serve alongside other ministries in Germany. Germany currently hosts over a million refugees and thousands of asylum seekers. Many refugees we’ve interacted with in Greece continued on to Germany, and our volunteers have been able to reconnect with them there!
Our supporters and volunteers often know what it’s like to serve on Lesvos, Greece, because it’s our most established location. However, in this blog, we want to let you know what it’s like day-to-day as a volunteer in Germany.
Currently, we have two community centers in Germany–Giessen and Neustadt. Schedules for the locations run a little differently and volunteers often get to serve at both locations during their time there. Both of the community centers are called Peace House.
The center at Giessen is open four days per week–Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday–from 2-8 pm. Following are a few things that a normal day consists of there:
Our focus at the community centers is to build relationships and bring hope to the refugees with whom we interact.
There are several practical jobs assigned to volunteers everyday to keep things running smoothly. Here are a few examples:
Two volunteers take responsibility to float around, making sure everything is running smoothly.
“Often I sit with the women. Since their culture is very segregated, the women have formed a circle where they drink chai and talk. I love going over and sitting with them, hearing them talk or talking with them. It feels like they're my sisters, and we're just spending time together laughing or exchanging family photos, talking about their children or what they like to cook.”
- i58 Volunteer
The Neustadt Community Center runs five days per week. It’s our newer location and is smaller than the Giessen center. On a typical day, only a few regulars come, but it provides an opportunity to more personally invest in peoples’ lives.
Ideally, there is a family or couple staying in the apartment above the Neustadt center, so they can be in close proximity to manage it. However, that’s not always the case. So when there are no families or couples there, volunteers from Giessen carve out time for a 45 minute commute via train or use the team van to get there.
From 3-6 pm, the center is open to the public. During that time, our volunteers make coffee or chai and have snacks. This is a time of interacting and building relationships.
In the evening, they often make dinner together with those who came to the center and hang out. The living room at the Neustadt center has traditional Afghan cushions and rugs, and refugees love it because it reminds them of home. They spend a lot of time in these rooms studying and eating dinner on the floor. Playing UNO is always fun and makes for a laughter-filled evening.
A few of the practical jobs volunteers do at the Neustadt center are:
Every Wednesday is Outreach Day for our volunteers, with several doing outreach on Fridays as well. Outreach consists of visiting people volunteers have gotten to know at the community center, but who’ve transferred to other camps across Germany.
The goal of Outreach Day is to continue friendships, pouring hope and blessings into their lives, as they transition to new places.
A typical day–besides ministry at the center–includes meeting at the team house for breakfast and having devotions before going to the center. The team also has cooking, devotions, and cleaning schedules for each week.
After cleanup at the center every evening, the team heads back to the team house to talk over the day and make dinner. Evening team activities may also include games, tennis, or going out for ice cream. It’s also a good time to chat with people back in the US.
Saturdays are the team’s day off, which may include touring a nearby city, eating out, playing spike-ball, or doing other activities in Giessen. Giessen hosts many bakeries, ice cream shops, parks, and other cool things, so there’s an endless supply of things to do.
Every Sunday, there is team church at 2:30 pm. Before that, volunteers can visit a local church or have the morning off.
So there you have it – a bit of day-to-day life as a volunteer in Germany. Is this something that catches your interest? We are in need of more volunteers–singles, couples, and families!