Integration through sponsorships!

"We don't meet to integrate him, but to watch a film or chat with one another." Or to cook, do sports, visit friends, celebrate.
When Peter Mattenklodt talks about what he, his wife Annette and their three children do and experience with the young asylum seeker, it quickly becomes clear: an unaccompanied minor refugee (UM) has found best friends in Bamberg.

The 17-year-old African, whom the family of five from Gaustadt has taken to heart, is one of currently 20 so-called unaccompanied minors for whom the Don Bosco youth organization in Bamberg has sought and found sponsors. Ideally, sponsors do what youth welfare agencies and their staff cannot do: They give a little warmth and take the adolescents into their family and maybe also professional networks. "The sponsors do a lot for the social acceptance of refugees," says youth work director Emil Hartmann.

The municipal youth welfare office also reports exceptionally good experiences with sponsorships for refugees. From the point of view of Head of Office Christine Behringer-Zeis, it is important that the sponsors are looked after professionally. The success of the Don Bosco youth work is exemplary. Otherwise, she sees the danger that sponsors will wear themselves out or overshoot the mark and try to clear all obstacles from the young people's path. According to Behringer-Zeis, that would be fatal. Her reason: “The young men have managed to get here over thousands of kilometers. For God's sake, one must not seduce them into becoming dependent.
Nest warmth and more
What the youth welfare office and those responsible in the Don Bosco youth work - project manager is Regina Jans - expect from the sponsors is that they give the young people a sense of family security and introduce them to everyday life and the culture in their host country. They should learn the necessary key qualifications, without which nothing would work in this country. But also get to know social differences, such as the role of women in the western world.
Trunk: Enormous potential
The integration sponsorships, which the Don-Bosco-Jugendwerk consistently uses as the only youth organization in Bamberg to look after unaccompanied minors, are also supported by the regional economy. IHK President Heribert Trunk believes that they are important and necessary to integrate young asylum seekers into the labor market. 55 percent of them are not yet 25 years old. "An enormous potential", says Trunk, "but which is hardly 'raised'".

The Bamberg entrepreneur has been supporting the Don Bosco youth organization and its student sponsorship project for a long time. This was transferred to young refugees about two years ago, one to one, as Hartmann says. And with measurable success: All 15 UM of the first generation graduated from secondary school in the summer. The director of the youth work, Hartmann, is almost as proud of this as the graduates themselves. One of the successful graduates is the “godchild” from the Mattenklodt family. The 17-year-old even has the "Quali" in his pocket - an enormous achievement when you consider that the young African only came to Bamberg a year and a half ago and didn't speak a word of German at the time. He is now doing an apprenticeship in a technical profession. Word is getting around about the good experiences from Bamberg.

Also thanks to Trunk's "advertising" the integration sponsorship model will soon be implemented in the Kulmbach and Hof area. In Bamberg, it is supported by three institutions: the Don Bosco Youth Office, the Chance Youth Foundation and the Schmid Kayser Foundation. It's not just the young refugees who benefit when individuals or families take a little care of them. As a sponsor you also get a lot back, especially on a human level. In the case of the Gaustadt family, too, contact with the friend from Africa apparently developed into a win for both sides after a short time. All five would experience the sponsorship as an enrichment, assures the family man. He grins from ear to ear as he explains that his offspring's interest in family life has increased significantly since the 17-year-old came into their lives.

Peter Mattenklodt: “When he comes, there is a greater chance that I will also see my two older children in the evening.” The opposite is the case. Mattenklodt tells of friends who were initially skeptical. Then they would have met the young refugee and discarded their reservations. Some of her acquaintances are now even "infected" and have taken on a sponsorship themselves.

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