By Theresa Ritzer
Adnan Saleem Saqib has a wife and two daughters back home in Pakistan. Before fleeing his home country for Germany two years ago, Adnan worked as an accountant. He studied economics and met his wife-to-be in college. They fell in love and married without their parents arranging the union or first giving consent. In Pakistan, this is a gross violation of traditional values.
When fundamentalists found the family, they injured Adnan brutally, only sparing his wife because she was pregnant. His friends urged him to leave, so he did. He has never met his youngest daughter. "I hope so much that I can see her one day and live with my family again,” he says.
In October 2015, Adnan arrived in Bad Tölz, a small town in the Bavarian Prealps, a mountain range in southern Germany. It was at the height of the country’s refugee crisis. He quickly connected with Asylplus, a nonprofit organization helping refugees learn German. Adnan practices phrases and grammar on a Google Chromebook at the public library.
Asylplus has equipped the library with Chromebooks from Project Reconnect, a program that provides free access to online language courses and exercises on the laptops. Asylplus also helps refugees find job training and internships. The organization landed Adnan a three-week internship at Josefistift, a home for the elderly in Bad Tölz.
At the end of his internship, Adnan’s manager suggested he apply to a government program for a one-year volunteer position. In December 2015, Germany’s Federal Office of Family Affairs and Civil Society Functions created up to 10,000 volunteer opportunities for refugees to work with other refugees. Since then, recognized asylum seekers, and asylum seekers with a good chance of staying in the country, can volunteer at social, cultural, ecological, or sporting institutions for 12 to 14 months.
Adnan chose the Josefistift. "When my mother got sick, I took care of her," he says. "That's why I was open to considering caregiving as a profession."
Over time it became easier for Adnan to communicate in German with his colleagues and Josefistift’s residents. He successfully passed an advanced language test and uses his skills as an interpreter to help other Pakistanis looking for work.
Though his year-long position has ended, Adan was accepted by an apprenticeship program training state-certified caregivers for the elderly. He began in September.
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