Kiron Open Higher Education is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide refugees with the opportunity to get higher education. Kiron is a grantee of Project Reconnect, an initiative from NetHope and Google.org that provided 25,000 Chromebooks to nonprofits supporting refugees in Germany. Kiron makes the laptops from Project Reconnect available to students in local study centers or as loaner devices.   

We are pleased to feature several Kiron student stories over the next few days, including this one from Ani, who told her story to Kiron’s Flora Celine Roenneberg. Don’t miss yesterday’s story, from Mohammed


My name is Ani, I am from Indonesia, from the island Sulawesi, and I had to leave my country because I fell in love with a woman. I came to Germany because of love. It is a long story. We ran away together from Indonesia, because it is such a strict country, where they do not accept gay relationships. So, we had to run away.

We met at a solar eclipse event — it was very romantic. I was an IT student, also working for a tourism office, when we fell in love. However, I could not tell my family. My dad is a police officer and my aunt is working in an immigration office and I have a lot of family all over the city. But they found out! I had already decided to get my passport ready to leave the country, when my aunt discovered that I wanted to leave. She checked my undercover Facebook page. I have two Facebook profiles to hide my secret identity, but my aunt found out and saw that I was having a relationship with a woman. It was very difficult.

I talked to my family before I left. I tried to explain but they were really mad. I am still in touch with them today. I tell them that I am happy here, that I am studying and that I am doing well. But it is hard for them to understand. When I talk to them when my [partner] is around, they change their mood and it is not easy. This creates a lot of tension, not just between my family and me, but also between us as a couple.

I really miss my twin sister. Maybe she understands me better because we are twins. We will even meet each other out of the country, in Malaysia, since I really cannot go back to my home country. I am paranoid that my family will catch me. I am kind of “wanted” back home. My family is looking for me. If they would find me they would put me into a mental home, where I would have to undergo hypnosis and psychotherapy because they think being gay is an illness.

I was 21 when I came to Germany; now it has been nearly a year that I am in Berlin. I really like the city. My favorite spot is the flea market at Mauerpark, where you have a lot of street food. I am happy here and I found Kiron. I read about it for the first time online and immediately applied. It was easy and cool. I could choose to study whatever I wanted. Now I study computer science with Kiron.

I was so happy because I was able to get a sponsored computer from Project Reconnect. The laptop is very useful for my online study! And I found friends at Kiron that support me. So, I think: I am just a lucky girl!

One day I would like to have my own company, a company that helps people, just like Kiron does. Back in Indonesia, I was already helping out in my community. I was teaching English to the elderly and the rural population. I like helping others. My friends always tell me to study social work. But I don’t want to. I am fascinated by computer science. You can make things in your mind become reality! That is why I want to found my own social startup one day. Or I am going to be working with Kiron and will make it even more awesome than it is right now.

If this story inspires you and you would like to invest in NetHope’s work supporting refugees like Ani, we welcome your donation.  

Filed Under: Project Reconnect