Robert Barr (29) from Berlin is founder and managing director of jobs4refugees, the leading non-profit employment agency for refugees in Germany.
After completing his master's degree in Global Politics at the London School of Economics, the young man worked as a campaigner for an environmental non-governmental organization.
When many people in Germany soke shelter in the summer of 2015, Robert initially volunteered to support refugee accommodation. He soon realized that many refugees are busy looking for work. With the certainty that labor market integration, i.e., employment, is the key element in the successful integration of refugees, Robert quitted his secure job and founded jobs4refugees.
In contrast to many other organizations that were founded at the same time, jobs4refugees does not turn out to be a flash in the pan, but instead continually has driven forward labor market integration. Sustainable financing from the company's own operative business has been particularly important to the founder.
In 2017, jobs4refugees has taken over the refugee organization MigrantHire. To generate even more impact, the non-profit organization is currently planning to merge with another one. This development is rather unusual in the voluntary sector and illustrates one of Robert's great strengths - bringing people together, creating synergies and inspiring enthusiasm for a good cause.
Today, the organization has seven employees at two locations in Berlin and Frankfurt and reaches over 21,000 fugitives nationwide. jobs4refugees has already placed 250 fugitives and helped over 1,500 gain a foothold in the German labor market through training and consulting.
Robert believes that financial assistance alone does not contribute to integration, but that learning the German language and finding a job are equally necessary. His plan is to establish further locations in Germany.
With "rezemo", founded by Stefan Zender (25) and Julian Reitze (26) from Stuttgart, the coffee capsule market will change permanently. Instead of aluminum or fossil plastic rezemo coffee capsules consist of wood in the form of shavings from regional wood processing. These are embedded in a matrix of bioplastics. After use, the capsule can be returned to nature because wood is CO2 neutral and naturally compostable.
Rezemo is the first coffee capsule on the market with worldwide approx. 60 billion coffee capsules consumed annually. It was certified by DIN CERTCO in the top category with the test result "100% renewable raw materials".
This innovative wooden capsule contains only high-quality top coffees from regional roasting, which are purchased as fairly and socially as possible, for example from the Cafésito coffee roasting plant, a facility for people with disabilities. In this way rezemo can prove that social commitment, sustainability, and coffee enjoyment go together.
The idea for rezemo was born almost 4 years ago. After a development phase with the help of the Fraunhofer Institute, the market launch took place in 2018. In the meantime, the ecologically and socially sustainable coffee capsule has already received high awards.
Thanks to its PR, rezemo shapes a "sustainable lifestyle" in this market like no other company. In addition to private customers, they also support hotels in their sustainability mission, such as the "Lindner Hotels & Resorts", the first hotels of the "Victor's" and "Accor" chain, as well as other business customers who are offered an ecological alternative by rezemo.
In addition to coffee capsules, the two founders want to develop further packaging solutions made of sustainable materials in the future to help fight the global plastic packaging problem. They also want to expand their high level of social commitment even further. To this end, they will continue to work closely with partners to regularly examine which further value-added steps and projects can be realized together.
ProjectWings gGmbH was founded by Marc Helwing (24) from Koblenz together with three other young environmentally conscious people. The focus is on the planned construction of the world's largest recycling village in Indonesia. Together with 6 cooperation partners, the project is on the one hand about educational work on plastic waste, the establishment of a garbage collection system and a deposit system on Sumatra, and on the other hand about sustainable food cultivation and the preservation of the rainforests by using rangers to prevent illegal logging and poaching.
Originally active as fundraisers for large aid organizations, the four founders of ProjectWings were convinced that they could better protect the rainforest and stop the flood of plastic waste for future generations with their own non-profit environmental protection organization. Initially working on a voluntary and private basis, they have been working full-time since the 15th of March 2019.
As a troop of young businesspeople, hippies, and do-gooders, who can get down to work and have dreams and visions, they want to be close to the donors. Therefore, they are on the road in pedestrian zones and discuss their various concerns at information stands.
To build their recycling village, ProjectWings has the villagers in Indonesia fill empty plastic bottles with shredded plastic waste. More than 22,000 "Ecobricks" have already been delivered as building blocks for houses and about 11,000 kilos of plastic have been recycled sensibly. Currently, 23 jobs are being created in Indonesia for the recycling village. Soon it should be 100.
By building the world's largest recycling village, Marc Helwing and his partners want to achieve their main goal of educating people about environmental problems. Not only in Indonesia they are generating great interest in the topic of "sustainability", but they have also already attracted media attention in Germany.
When the recycling village is completed in 2021, the processes and organizational matters will be transferable to other countries. By 2030 ProjectWings wants to have built a recycling village on every continent.
Merlin Bloch (19) and Angelika Pron (19) have been leading the Fokusgruppe Jugend on a voluntary basis since November 2014. It consists of about 20 children and adolescents who work closely with the city of Burglengenfeld. The focus is on drug prevention, initially with the organization of a youth café and participation in activities such as educational trips for the youth, community festivals and Christmas markets.
At the beginning of 2017, the Fokusgruppe Jugend decided to launch a major project to educate young people of the same age from the surrounding area on the Prevention Days 2018 under the motto "by young people for young people" in order to protect them from the dangers of addiction and to encourage them to rethink. Since such topics receive too little attention in school and society, the group believes it is important to talk about them openly and to offer interested people the opportunity to get advice or help from professionally trained peers. With this active "peer education" they can best reach their peers.
1,200 children and adolescents are taking part in the "Prevention Days 2018". They go through workshops and attend lectures and discussion forums. The supporting program deals with alcohol abuse and drug prevention, the topic of new media and gambling addiction, but also hurtful behavior, depression or eating disorders are addressed.
Thanks to good preparation and the active participation of well-known organizations, initiatives and health insurance companies, the ideas of the focus group on youth can be easily implemented during the two days. Many of the wishes and suggestions of children and young people are also passed on to the political level and are for the most part adopted.
In 2019, the project was nominated for the International Lake Constance Conference Prize for Health and Prevention. Even if the focus group youth did not receive the prize, the nomination alone will encourage other cities and youth groups to follow suit. The next Prevention Days "by young people for young people" will take place in summer 2020, this time with a focus on cybercrime.
Once a week, Helena Mahn (16) from Ruppach-Goldhausen in the Westerwald spends her free time together with the guests in the St. Thomas Hospice in Dernbach. She takes them for walks, plays or talks with them. In doing so, she offers the sick people the opportunity to express thoughts and feelings that they would like to reveal at the end of their lives. It goes without saying that these conversations are absolutely confidential.
Helena's mother works as a caring doctor in the hospice. Therefore, the young girl knew what this institution is for and what it is all about.
At the beginning of her voluntary work, Helena was a little biased, but that changed quickly. She noticed that although the hospice has very sad moments, there are also many beautiful ones, and that the guests there radiate an enormous joy of life. With her youthful naturalness, Helena makes it her business to accompany hospice guests on their last journey through life. Her way of dealing with people helps many to give up their reservations and confide in her. In this way Helena can help some people to go in peace.
In her voluntary work Helena develops the right feeling for hospice work and spends happy, often even cheerful hours with the dying. In addition, she experiences a special culture of farewell, learns to deal with constantly changing situations and moods and makes herself familiar with the permanent balancing act between happiness and sadness. Time and time again, it becomes apparent how valuable her presence is for the guests and how she is appreciated by them and the staff.
Helena would like to continue her voluntary work, which takes her to the hospice once a week for two hours, until the beginning of her studies in summer 2020. Also, during her studies, she intends to support the hospice as much as she can.
It is extraordinary that such a young person deals with the subject of dying and still manages to approach the guests of the hospice in a positive and joyful way in order to work through their fate together with them.
Joshua Kriesmann (22) founded the non-profit organization "Schüler Treffen Flüchtlinge e.V." in Berlin in 2015 together with friends. Under his chairmanship, this student initiative succeeds in developing into a nationwide player in the field of youth engagement and international understanding.
The two local Berlin projects of the association are: "STF-Kocht!" and "STF-Discovered!". In the first project, students with and without migration backgrounds get to know each other in a joint cooking project to break down prejudices in low-threshold conversations. In "STF-Entdeckt", participants explore a piece of Berlin: from the Bundestag to a kayak tour on the Spree. All in all, the association has been implementing a project every two months since 2015 under the patronage of the mayor, reaching hundreds of students.
In order to encourage other adolescents to get involved in the field of refugee work, another project, "Aktion Zukunft", followed in 2016, in which STF youth from all over Germany came together in Berlin for a fully financed seminar lasting several days. There were workshops in project management, financial management and public relations. The alumni receive financial support of several hundred euros and a one-year online coaching. "Aktion Zukunft" has been held twice so far: in 2016 and 2018, and a repeat in 2020 is already being planned. Private donations of €8,000 and a further €30,000 in project funding contribute to the financing.
Joshua experienced how difficult it can be to find the right balance between adapting to a new culture and maintaining one's own culture during a student exchange in Oklahoma, where he lived with a Taiwanese host family. Another core experience was the "Model United Nations Conference" on the global refugee situation in 2015, which the young man was allowed to chair as President of the General Assembly. These experiences convinced Joshua that young people from different cultures are an important part of our society and that they want to and can help shape it together.
The "Zufallsexperiment" band was founded in December 2016 by Michael Schunk (24) and seven other young friends around the Mosel village of Löf with a first benefit concert. Already at this concert they could collect € 3,000 for children in need.
Another large benefit concert under the motto "Magic Moments" followed in December 2018 in Hatzenport, this time in aid of Herzenssache, an initiative of the SWR. Contemplative and Christmas songs from Peter Maffay to Michael Jackson were able to carry the audience away and move them to help disadvantaged children. Despite free admission, a lottery and contributions from donors brought the remarkable amount of 5,000€ for Herzenssache. Since then, the band has regularly donated the proceeds from their performances at festivals on the Rhine and Moselle to social institutions.
The motivation of the band members, who all received their musical education at the Musikverein Löf, has its reason both in the joy of the guests at their events and in the gratitude of the people who receive donations.
Being on stage with friends, performing a great show and all this for a good cause – that is what drives them on! For the band, however, not only the joy and the income are important, but they also want to make the visitors of their concerts aware of the plight of other people and show that everyone has the opportunity to help.
Summer open-airs or Christmas concerts are planned for the future, because the young musicians hope that their benefit concerts will become a permanent feature of their region. Even though they can already fall back on a good number of sponsors who make their projects possible and help to cover the expenses, they still want to develop new ideas and reach new donors.
Lukas Zervudakis (24) from Neuwied, student at WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, recognizes through his training as a lifeguard how important it is to get involved and help people in need. At the beginning of his studies, he therefore decides to train as a rescue worker at WHU First Responder.
In 2017, Lukas served as a board member of the First Responder. He organized blood donation days at the university as well as the training of additional students. Parallel to his full-time studies, Lukas drove more than 50 missions and helps the rescue service by providing first medical aid to injured and sick people and supporting the regular rescue service from the moment they arrive.
His main involvement with WHU First Responders consisted of both organization and practical assignments. For the organizational part, the young man needs between three and ten hours a week, for the practical part about 18 hours. In addition, Lukas maintained close contact with the sponsors of the first responders and was jointly responsible for the purchase of a new and better-equipped emergency vehicle.
During his missions, Lukas was able to evacuate five people from the danger zone in a house fire before the fire department arrived, to reanimate four people together with the rescue service, to stabilize a two-year-old girl after a respiratory arrest and to alleviate the complaints of numerous others, for example by giving oxygen in acute respiratory distress.
Lukas' volunteer work is an enormous contrast to her studies of economics and brings with it a high emotional burden. Nevertheless, he would like to continue to drive missions for responders after his studies and, moreover, use his good connections to sponsors for the financial support of the association.
Nourhan Altahan (16) from Trier came with her mother and her 8 siblings from Syria to Germany three years ago. Soon, the schoolgirl was engaged in a social internship as a volunteer in the German Child Protection Association, local and district association Trier, to help refugee children and children from difficult situations. She worked as a supervisor at the various events of the Kinderschutzbund and thus helps to secure its integrative offer of help.
She also participated in the integration project "Culture & Creativity without Borders". There she worked on weekends and in her free time for the interests of the children and young people. From 2016 to March 2019, she was involved in about 60 events, workshops or excursions as a supervisor. She mediated between the parents of the participating children and the Child Protection Agency and ensured the necessary trust so that the parents leave their children in its care.
For the Kinderschutzbund, Nourhan's great organizational and artistic talent was of great benefit and highly appreciated. Her quick perception relieved the otherwise often time-consuming introductory work in dealing sensitively with partially traumatized children. Her independent, thoughtful and very responsible work was especially appreciated. For her younger colleagues she was thus an absolute role model.
Nourhan said that she would find her task meaningful and has the feeling of making a difference. She used her own traumatic experiences in a positive way to support children from difficult life situations - regardless of their nationality - as a "personal angel".
Since 2017 Nourhan has been a student at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Trier and is characterized by ambition and reliability. She will soon take on a new task as "organizational networker" between the cooperation project "Helping Hands" of the grammar school and the Child Protection Association.
In 2018, Nourhan was awarded the Youth Honorary Office Prize of the City of Trier for her tireless efforts in the area of social issues.
Leon Löwentraut (21) from Düsseldorf is considered a shooting star of the international art scene. Whether in Singapore, New York, London, St. Petersburg or Berlin, his works attract attention everywhere. Inspired by works of the artists Picasso, Matisse and Basquiat, Leon's paintings have an unmistakable signature and immediate recognition value.
In 2017, he was invited to design the title motif of the UNESCO NGO forum "Youth and their Social Impact" and to present it personally during the conference in Riyadh. In the same year, the then 19-year-old artist developed a total of 17 unique pieces for the campaign "#Art4GlobalGoals". These works are going to be used worldwide until 2030 to promote the goals for sustainable development adopted by the United Nations. The aim is to ensure that all people around the world can live a life in dignity, especially through an end to extreme poverty, high-quality education for all, climate protection, and peace and justice. Leon has artistically interpreted and made visible every single goal. In the form of exhibitions, the 17 unique works of art travel around the world, were last shown at the Pushkin Museum in St. Petersburg and will be exhibited at the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence in early October. The German Embassy in Rome has assumed patronage for this project.
Dr. h.c. Ute-Henriette Ohoven, Special Ambassador to UNESCO, said: "We can reduce the causes of economically induced refugee flows, terror, poverty and hunger in the long term through high-quality education, provided we act globally.
From the sale of limited graphic editions of the 17 works, Leon Löwentraut and Galerie Geuer & Geuer intended to jointly donate around €680,000 to UNESCO and the YOU Foundation Düsseldorf. With a partial amount, a school has already been built in the slum area Baraka in Dakar/Senegal. The RTL Donation Marathon 2017 and 2018 also benefited from Leon's support with two of his works and achieved the record result of over 50.000€ per work for the good cause.
As a young artist and visionary, Leon Löwentraut stands for achieving great goals. However, he never lost sight of the people who are less fortunate. "I have made a good life and my hobby my profession. If you have these privileges, you can also give something away".
On December 20th, 2017, Sina Wolf (18) from Heidelberg joined forces with the German Federal Association of Children's Hospitals (BVKH) to found the "Green Band", a club for seriously ill young people and their siblings and friends.
She came up with the idea of founding the "Grüne Bande" because she was annoyed by the fact that adults always speak for and about disabled young people, but they hardly ever get a chance to speak for themselves. So it is no coincidence that the motto of the "Grüne Bande" is: "We have something to say!
Sina herself has a younger sister who often has to step back because of her disability. Therefore, it was a special concern of hers that the "Green Gang" is not only concerned with the directly affected young people, but also with their siblings, who too often get a raw deal.
In the "Grüne Bande", topics such as exclusion, accessibility and mobbing are addressed in an age-appropriate form, or people exchange information about things such as therapies, operations, aids or quite everyday things such as friendship, school and parents. This happens at meetings or in your own WhatsApp group as well as through social media channels such as Facebook or Instagram.
The special thing about the "Green Gang" is probably that young people affected here as well as their friends and siblings can talk openly with each other. They help each other and nobody is left alone with their issues.
In November 2018, the "Grüne Bande" held its first annual meeting in Cologne. There they even wrote the lyrics for their own song, which has been recorded in a recording studio and will probably be released soon.
Sina Wolf would like to make the "Grüne Bande" known and accessible to all seriously ill young people and their friends and siblings throughout Germany.
Her big dream is that the "Grüne Bande" will also become a platform beyond the borders where seriously ill young people can exchange and inform themselves about things that move them.