Many of us remember the busy train stations of Vienna when thousands of refugees were arriving or passing through in 2015. It was a chaotic scene, but dozens of volunteers and several organizations stepped up to help them pass through or arrive, giving them supplies and providing them show that these migrants were welcome here. Many trains pulling into the station were greeted with applause.
But of course, the journey of migration doesn’t stop upon arrival. It’s been nearly three years since that initial “refugee crisis” of 2015, and press, as well as public interest, have seemed to fizzle out in recent years. What hasn’t fizzled out, however, is the predicament that recent arrivals have found themselves in. How does one start a new life in a brand new, unfamiliar country?
Getting acclimated to their new city and country is a huge piece of the puzzle, and often it’s a very difficult one. Sometimes it takes years to really find your place in a foreign environment, whether you’re a Western expat or a refugee from a war-torn country. This doesn’t even take into account the difficulty that language, skin color, and religion present in a society that can sometimes be hostile towards these differences.
Luckily, people are aware of this, and initiatives have been started to help jump-start the lives of many arrivals. Some are designed to help refugees find a place to stay. Others are designed to help with educational aspects of their lives. Once their basic needs are met, refugees can start to become self-reliant and engaged in Austrian society by joining the labor force. It isn’t easy to get your foot in the door when you’re a new arrival, but it can make a world of difference in the lives of the workers as well as the city and country’s society as a whole.
Impact Hub Vienna, in cooperation with Deloitte Future Fund Austria, has taken steps to recognize some of those ventures that are helping refugees access the labor market via the found! accelerator program. Whether it’s mentoring programs, job creation, or breaking down stereotypes, the ventures supported by found! offer a glimmer of hope for the future. And, better yet, this is just what we’re recognizing. There’s even more out there, and more in the works.
Let’s take the month of May to focus on migration, the problems migrants are facing in Vienna and elsewhere, and some of our ventures’ solutions to those problems. After all, if refugees succeed, we all succeed.
Photo Credit: Lea Fabienne