The Heidelberg International Women’s Club started off 2018 with a successful first Monthly Meeting, the regular get-together for members and guests interested to learn more about the Club. It’s held monthly, alternating evenings and mornings to appeal to the wide demographics of women who are members of the Heidelberg IWC.
Taking place at the Peace Church in Handschuhsheim, about 15 attendees gathered to hear from the Club Founder, Christine Funke, and guest speakers, and spend time chatting about the Club and getting to know one another. Christine started off the morning with a short introduction to the Club, her vision for how the Club will grow, and how attendees can become members and get involved.
Next, guest speakers Silke Stevermüer and Andrea Scheuermann from the nonprofit organization Miteindander in der VG Freinsheim e.V. gave a 40 minute talk about their work over the past 3 years with refugees who are settled in their village on the Weinstrasse.
Set up in 2015 during the high influx of refugees entering Germany, Andrea and Silke along with volunteers work directly with refugees to help with paperwork, appointments, setting up their apartments, getting children enrolled in school, giving language lessons, and hosting get-togethers for the refugees and members of the community. The refugees come from many different nations and have varied backgrounds of education, job skills and experiences fleeing their homes.
As a special guest, a Syrian woman named Safa, attended with Silke and Andrea. She spoke in German about her experience in an apprenticeship in a school. She has learned German from scratch since arriving with her husband for four children, and has had to start over with a new skill set so that she can provide for her family. She was warm and friendly and spoke highly of the help she had received from Miteinander.
It was interesting for attendees to learn about the type of activities the group hosts for the refugee community, how they teach them concepts like punctuality and women’s rights, and where their donations and volunteers come from. Silke and Andrea now have an office where people can come to them when they need help and they have various activities and groups to empower women and their families and help integrate the refugees into the education and job system.
After this informative talk, attendees chatted about ideas for the Club, how to join, and found common ground among experiences abroad and living in Heidelberg and the surrounding region. Overall, it was a success and great start for the Heidelberg International Women’s Club. A big thanks goes out to all the members who helped make it a wonderful event.