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In September 2016, Nicole Ludwig led a group of her neighbors in Germany to assist newly-arrived Syrian and Afghani refugees. The volunteers collected clothing and toys, organized activities and field trips for the refugee children, and taught them German. Later, the volunteers offered homework support and led library reading groups. For the adult refugees, the volunteers provided cultural assimilation instruction and cooking classes. While there were occasional challenges to working together, the volunteers and refugees fostered a collaborative system and even hosted a Christmas party, during which one elderly Syrian man said, “This is one of the best memories I have so far from Germany.”
Many of the newcomers needed emotional support to heal from their trauma. For instance, Nicole reveals the story of one Afghani woman whose own son was killed by the Taliban in front of her. Another refugee, a child, painted pictures of machine guns and dead bodies, which epitomizes the violence these innocent people face daily.
Nicole brings her four-year-old son to the camp so that he can learn to support the refugees and be aware of the harms so many people face. Nicole insists that “It’s about compassion; it’s about helping other people.”
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