Full Interview with Waltraud Haase and Noor Harkeem

Waltraud Haase (Senior Chairwoman of AsylPlus):

How did you come up with the idea of founding AsylPlus and what was your goal?

In 2013, the Tölz integration officer asked me about a German class for refugees. At the time, I was tutoring math at a middle school in Bad Tölz and heading an internship project. I agreed, provided that the class would only take place online on a computer. Demand grew quickly, intensified by national and international press. Thanks to a petition in the Bavarian state parliament, our offering was put on an equal footing with classic German lessons for refugees.

What successes has AsylPlus achieved to date?

We see the fruits our work best on site, with refugees successfully completing training as bakers, painters, mechanics, physician’s assistants or geriatric nurses. Or, immigrants incorporate the knowledge they gained in training in their home countries and successfully complete their training here.

Are you active in certain locations or specific facilities?

Our headquarters are located in Bad Tölz, where the city provides us with laboratory space and a training room. We play an active role for the accommodations in Bad Tölz, Geretsried and – in the future – in Wolfsratshausen. If necessary, we can provide on-site training – we were recently in Munich and Aschaffenburg. In addition, help groups all over Germany can loan computers from us.

What lies ahead for AsylPlus in the years to come? Do you plan to expand your offering?

In 2019, we developed a new training concept – the “Classroom” which we hope to expand together with LMU Munich in 2020, covering around 40 modules on different IT topics, including social media. If we receive the means necessary from the Bavarian Ministry of Internal Affairs, we will be adding jobs too: from volunteering with asylum seekers to internships and 450-euro jobs all the way to full-time jobs for qualified workers such as Noor Harkeem, trained by us.

Noor Harkeem (head of the AsylPlus subsidiary):

Where are you from originally and when did you come to Germany?

I fled Bangladesh and came to Germany with my wife in 2015. Persecuted as Rohingya in Myanmar, we lived in a UNHCR camp in Bangladesh, but the situation just kept getting more dangerous for us.

You yourself were a participant of AsylPlus. How did you hear about the offering back then, and what did AsylPlus do for you?

In July 2016, I got an internship with Asylplus through the Federal Employment Agency, and six weeks later they gave me a mini-job position. Back then, we were still living in refugee accommodation and were hoping to be recognized. In October 2016, my son Shayaan was born. Ms. Haase helped us during the asylum process, which we completed in 2017 as recognized refugees. In the evenings, I attended classes in Munich, allowing me to begin training at the Technical University of Munich in September 2017. In August 2018, Ms. Haase presented me with the opportunity to begin a position as an IT instructor and return to AsylPlus. AsylPlus gave me a head start both professionally and personally like no other company could have. It is my goal to pass on this opportunity to other refugees with IT training and practical tips.

What are your occupational activities and what is your current role at AsylPlus?

Today, I work as the head of the subsidiary, in charge of the IT courses at AsylPlus. I am responsible for the Internet at all the accommodations in the Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen district and I take care of all the administrative tasks at the subsidiary.