Soccer team in a huddle

SAP Helps Refugees in Germany

October 9, 2015 by Natalie Lotzmann

In what has been called one of the worst migration crisis in recent history, it is a time for our compassion, our caring and our action.

Every donation of time, clothes, food, no matter how big or small is of huge help to these refugees. The scale and reality of this growing crisis hits you hard when it is right in front of your face. On Friday, German Red Cross Mannheim put a call out for volunteers and medical staff to volunteer over the weekend in an emergency camp set up in the abandoned US army base in Mannheim, near to SAP headquarters in Walldorf.

Along with Dr. Turgay Goeksu, SAP company physician, and many other local volunteers, we thought we were prepared from the media’s heart-wrenching stories when we faced more than 1,000 of these evacuees over the last two days.

Dr. Turgay Goeksu, SAP company physician, Dr. Natalie Lotzmann, SAP Chief Medical Officer and many other local volunteers

Dr. Turgay Goeksu, SAP company physician, Dr. Natalie Lotzmann, SAP Chief Medical Officer and many other local volunteers

Basic human needs required urgent attention, and volunteers from all walks of life – from students to pensioners – worked through the volume of people to help with accommodation, administration and putting the abandoned buildings into working order again.

These evacuees had travelled long distances in perilous conditions and many were not in good physical or mental shape, many of whom had just a small plastic bag for their belongings, been separated from family members, and they needed our help and compassion. Without the support from the Arabian community already living in Germany who translate for the refugees, all this would have been more challenging.

Turgay and I worked, with other medical volunteers, to find the evacuees who needed medical assistance. Dealing with the medical requirements was easier; the emotional side was more difficult because we knew we could not solve it with an injection or food. One such story was that of a Syrian gynaecologist, who fled with 20 members of his family from Syria. The family were split by people smugglers – his wife and four children were held in Turkey, his 70-year father, suffering from a severe heart disease, was stopped at the Hungarian border, and his brother held in Greece. The doctor safely arrived with his seven-year-old niece in Germany just a few days ago. Fortunately, for him, he managed to make contact with his father through Facebook and has learnt that he was transferred to Austria.

There are too many stories similar to this one. Until the war and crisis will be resolved, we must rally and help our fellow human beings, in one of the world’s worst migration crisis. SAP has committed €500,000 and all monies donated by SAP employees will be matched by SAP Corporate Social Responsibility (SAP CSR).

This experience showed me once again how precious life and freedom are. So I urge you, if you can donate where and how you can – donate money, clothes and food needed, volunteer your time. But do so in a sustainable way. Contact and join organizations that help coordinate general effort, and make yourself familiar with information needed around asylum seekers and refugees.

Top image via Shutterstock

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