Connecting People brings together committed people and refugee orphans through sponsorship
The sponsorship project for refugee orphans is professionally supervised by ZEBRA and started in 2002. It has since been awarded the following prizes: TrauDi! 2013, SozialMarie 2007 and TrauDi! 2007.
Most of the minors are between 14 and 17 years old. Most of them come from Afghanistan, Syria or Somalia and had to flee without parental protection – because they lost their parents in their home country or during the flight, or because they were forced to flee alone due to an immediate threat. They know war, torture, flight, loss – these experiences have shaped them. Here in Austria they seek refuge and help.
Due to their experiences during war, young refugees have to cope with a variety of problems: they have to deal with the loss of their family and with traumatising experiences in their country of origin and during the flight. In addition, their residence status is often unclear for a long time, which is why they are also forced into inactivity. Not to be neglected is the fact that the living environment in Austria is completely unknown to them.
The support provided by the Austrian state does cover basic needs. However, this cannot meet human needs for attention and sympathy. The young people lack persons with whom they can relate regularly and who are interested in them as private persons – without an institutional framework; people who are there for them, have time for them and can provide assistance in everyday life.
This helps to cushion emotional difficulties. A sponsorship can make the life of a young refugee much easier and be a great enrichment for the sponsors. Being welcome, being able to rely on someone, receiving emotional attention is of great help for the young people: it offers orientation, support, trust. Organising joint activities always depends on the time available and the life situations of both. Sponsors can be an important support in language acquisition, in dealing with authorities or in finding a job or school. They also invite the young people to their homes, let them take part in their lives and spend free time together.
If you are at least 21 years old, live in Graz or surroundings (Graz Umgebung) and are willing to have long-term and regular contact with a refugee orphan, you have the best qualifications to become a sponsor. If you take on a sponsorship, you will be professionally accompanied and supported by ZEBRA from the moment you first meet.
Interested persons are invited by ZEBRA for an interview. Expectations, requirements and time at your disposal are clarified. A training course consisting of six training events (one per week, evenings) professionally prepares you for your work as a sponsor.
After completing the training, sponsorships are arranged. We try to take into account individual wishes, possibilities and potentials of the prospective sponsors (especially when it comes to language skills, knowledge of a certain culture, hobbies, etc.) as well as the needs and interests of the young people to be supported.
In order to support ongoing sponsorships, monthly meetings of the sponsors are organised by ZEBRA. These serve to exchange information amongst them, but also to provide professional information, sometimes with the help of experts (social workers, therapists and legal advisors). In addition, sponsors can turn to ZEBRA at any time, and in special cases they can also make use of supervision as a supportive measure.