04 May 2015
Syrian refugees in saalfeld, Germany, started a social in which they participated in streets cleaning campaign, in an attempt to express their gratitude for the population, and their desire for integration. Reactions of the city’s population were mixed.
Ziad Turfa, a young Syrian waiting the decision for his asylum application from the local authorities in the city of Saalfeld, did not hide his surprise to see “female” driver for waste’s vehicle in the small city, he says: “I was surprised when I saw for the first time (in my life) female driver of the waste’s vehicle, not a man, so I went back to ask myself, why not? “.
In regards to his participation in this initiation with a number of the city’s population, Ziad says in an interview with the German network, “Deutsche Welle” “Actually, I was very happy, and I felt I am cleaning my home country, the experience, no matter how simple, gave me a big support.” Ammar Kadyeh says, “Our goal from participating, was to maintain the civilized face of the city we live in, as well as a kind of giving back to the people who support our presence here.”
For young Syrians, the initiation not only showing their positive presence in the city, but also extends to strive to “identify the habits and culture of the Germans, as a culture of voluntary work.” However, experience has opened their eyes to other things, Rafaat says “After we finished cleaning, we were invited for food, and when Germans recognised that we do not eat pork or drink beer, they hurried to bring grilled chicken and coca instead.”
He added “At the beginning we did not know that the tradition here is to eat together after finishing work. Then to act very quickly and bring food and drinks, that made us feel, they respect our relegion not, as rumored and hear about them all the time. “And another young man interruptted saying, “my main purpose was to say gave us an opportunity to be with you and you will see how we will act, we only want a chance.”
But the experience of these young people who have been in Germany a few months so far, had some notices, including that the administration in charge of a campaign to clean, allocated them in a separate place from the German partipants. Another young Syrians said, “it would be better if we were in the city center, while the coordinator reported that it is not possible to accomplish everything at once perfectly, but it is something needs to be worked on in the future”.
The young Germans participated in the cleaning campaign had different opinions about the participating of Syrian refugees with them. Some of them expressed surprise by the presence of refugees as participants and some of them expressed welcome to this post and considered it a “surprise”, and some of them complained that they couldn’t interact with refugees because they don’t know languag. Arnold says, “we hear all the time about the existence of refugees in the city in a special building, but we did not visit them or tried to identify them but when I found them among us, I felt happy and also had a motive for their visit or provide any assistance possible.” A smiling lady, said also, she had not personally see refugees because they were in relatively far place in the cleaning campaign, but their presence became the main topic in everyone’s talking.”
From their part young Syrians suggested, organizing in the future, “a more profound initiations and the importance of this, such as the organization of joint cultural symposium, to introduce an Arabic novel, or something about their towns, or Syrian Festival in the courtyard of the city, introducing the legacy of Syria through music and food. “