GERMANY / SYRIAN REFUGEE BAKER

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24-Dec-2018 00:03:35
Master baker Björn Wiese wants to provide young people with opportunities and a future. He provides training and future prospects to refugees in his bakeries in Eberswalde. UNHCR

Available Language: German
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STORY: GERMANY / SYRIAN REFUGEE BAKER
TRT: 3:35
SOURCE: UNHCR
RESTRICTIONS: PLEASE CREDIT UNHCR ON SCREEN
LANGUAGE: GERMAN / NATS

DATELINE: 4 DECEMBER 2018, BAKERY WIESE, EBERSWALDE, GERMANY

SHOTLIST:

4 DECEMBER 2018, BAKERY WIESE, EBERSWALDE, GERMANY

1. Various shots, Björn Wiese and Mohamad Hamza Alemam working
2. SOUNDBITE (German) Björn Wiese, Master baker and owner, Bakery Wiese:
“We have a huge skills shortage, and as a result have a hard time finding apprentices. So, we’re very open to taking on refugees but we also want to give young people an opportunity. It’s the glue that binds together our society: when we all pull together and offer people an opportunity.”
3. Various shots, Björn Wiese and Mohamad Hamza Alemam working
4. Close up, Mohamad hands
5. SOUNDBITE (German) Mohamad Hamza Alemam, Syrian refugee:
“My work means a lot to me: the contact with our customers, chatting to colleagues in German, the opportunity to receive a certificate when I’ve finished the apprenticeship and to have a better future.”
6. Various shots, Mohamad working
7. SOUNDBITE (German) Mohamad Hamza Alemam, Syrian refugee:
“My goal was to not just sit at home and do nothing. It was my goal to keep going. And I’ve achieved that goal.”
8. Various shots, Mohamad working and tending to customers
9. SOUNDBITE (German) Mohamad Hamza Alemam, Syrian refugee:
“To be doing an apprenticeship now has changed my life. I’ve improved my German and have met a lot of people.”
10. Wide shot, Björn and Mohamad speaking at the Bakery entrance
11. Med shot, Björn and Mohamad speaking at the Bakery entrance
12. SOUNDBITE (German) Björn Wiese, Master baker and owner, Bakery Wiese:
“People in these parts are a little more sceptical when faced with new things and foreigners. So, it’s important for us that we can show that it works, and to lead as a positive example.”
13. Med shot, Björn Wiese and Mohamad Hamza Alemam working
14. SOUNDBITE (German) Mohamad Hamza Alemam, Syrian refugee:
““When the war is over, and I can return to Syria, I hope that I can take this culture and the different types of bread, the German culture and the German bread with me to pass it on to those at home.”
15. Med shot, Björn Wiese and Mohamad Hamza Alemam working
16. SOUNDBITE (German) Mohamad Hamza Alemam, Syrian refugee:
“In the beginning it wasn't easy, because my German was not that good and I didn't know the different types of bread.”
17. Med shot, Mohamad Hamza Alemam viewing the city
18. SOUNDBITE (German) Björn Wiese, Master baker and owner, Bakery Wiese:
“Mohamad is doing an apprenticeship. In three years he will be a bakery sales assistant.
He did his A level in Syria, so he is overqualified for this job, but we will try to give him the opportunity to do some further trainings. He can become a sales manager or a branch manager and we will support him.”
19. Med shot, Mohamad Hamza Alemam walking through a park

STORYLINE:

Master baker Björn Wiese wants to provide young people with opportunities and a future. He provides training and future prospects to refugees in his bakeries in Eberswalde.

Mohamad Hamza Alemam had never tasted German bread until he set foot in Björn Wiese’s bakery. From that moment on he was hooked.

Now a trainee sales assistant, the 23-year-old Syrian hopes to learn the secrets of German breadmaking and one day take them home with him.

“I love that there are so many different types of bread here,” says Mohamad, during a break at the Privatbäckerei Wiese bakery in Eberswalde, in north-eastern Germany. “When I go back to Syria one day, I hope to take a little bit of this German culture, this German bread, with me. Maybe I’ll open a German bakery there.”

It was two years ago when master baker Björn first hit upon the idea of training and employing newcomers in his chain of three bakeries.

“I love that there are so many different types of bread here,” says Mohamad.

“We wanted to bring people together through food,” says Björn, 46, who belongs to the third generation of bakers in his family. “Of course, employing people from different culture to your own can be hard work sometimes, but it’s doable.”

Björn now employs ten refugees and asylum-seekers. Together, they make up a sixth of his workforce and among them are several trainees like Mohamad, who started out as a part-time employee.

“I didn’t want to stay home alone and do nothing,” says Mohamad, who had applied unsuccessfully for many jobs before joining Björn’s bakery earlier this year. “I wanted to work so I could improve my German, to do something with my time.”

Although he has been learning German since he first arrived in 2015, the language barrier was Mohamad’s biggest challenge. He was afraid of making mistakes in front of customers. However, colleagues helped and his confidence improved.

“Having this work has completely changed my life,” says Mohamad. “Over time it got better and better, every day I liked the job a bit more. My colleagues are all nice and the boss is even nicer. They always understand what I’m trying to say and are always ready to help with whatever I need.”

Mohamad says it was Björn’s warm welcome and dedication to his staff that made him decide to commit more seriously to the bakery job. This summer, he asked Björn if he could progress to become a trainee sales assistant. Björn agreed, helping Mohamad to work towards a vocational qualification.

“Having this work has completely changed my life,” says Mohamad.

Now a full-time member of the team, Mohamad is learning how to run the shop and cafe, as well as the basics of breadmaking in Björn’s on-site bakery.

“This traineeship means I can build a life here,” says Mohamad. “It means so much to me to have a secure future.”

For Björn, seeing the difference he can make in the lives of employees like Mohamad makes all the hard work worth it. It is a message he would like to pass on to other business owners.

“When I see how much it’s appreciated then I’m happy to do it,” says Björn. “Especially with refugees, because they’re looking to build a new life. When you offer people prospects you get so much commitment and appreciation in return.”

It is the commitment of business owners like Björn Wiese – as well as mayors, volunteers and other community leaders – that helps to promote integration in many parts of Germany.

“They are the driving force,” says Dominik Bartsch, the Representative for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in Germany. “They do not concern themselves with the politics of integration but roll up their sleeves, speak with refugees as equals and offer tangible prospects.

“Every city, every municipality should identify such individuals and support them. They are the key to empowering refugees and enabling them to flourish, and to give back to the community.”
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UNHCR
Alternate Title
unifeed181224a
Asset ID
2339859