We make refugee integration work

 

ABOUT

Kimiyaa (meaning 'chemistry' in Arabic) is a non-profit organization created to contribute to the integration of refugees in their countries of adoption. For relations to work between people, you need 'Kimiyaa'.

We organize matchings between refugees and local professional mentors all funded by personal and corporate donations from around the world. We started in Germany with a successful pilot program in 2016-2017 and starting in 2018 we are expanding in the United Kingdom and the United States with first efforts in North Carolina.

Why Kimiyaa?

There are sixty million refugees and displaced people around the world. In times of war and distress, fellow human beings take life threatening risks to seek refuge and protection.

There are now loud voices rising around the world instilling fear from refugees, unfairly painting them as terrorists or people seeking to take advantage of our economic welfare systems. Our reality is in fact brighter and more hopeful. All refugees taking part in our initiative are eager to put their often dramatic past behind and they are keen to integrate, learn the local language and enter the work force.

Successful economic and cultural integration into our societies is one of the greatest challenges for the next generation at least. In creating Kimiyaa, we wish to help break the divide and bring down the invisible walls of segregation.

Supporting the local economy

Our mentors – some of them part-time workers, single moms, or retirees - are part of the local economy and can now earn a modest income while supporting refugee integration. Most of the Kimiyaa mentors have a rich experience volunteering in helping refugee integration, but for others it will be their first meeting with a refugee.

For many of the Kimiyaa refugees, it will be their first contact with a local person, a key to feeling part of and understanding their new country of adoption.

How it works

Sponsors
Mentors
Refugees
Sponsors
Sponsors can be private persons or corporations from around the world who would like to support integration efforts.
They get to follow closely and personally the mentorship they sponsor. Their donation supports the local teacher who then provides free education to the refugee. Sponsors can fund a full mentorship or part of it.
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Mentors
Mentors are local professionals who have some free time to teach a subject or a skill to a refugee.
After a successful application process, mentors are matched with a refugee living in their vicinity. For mentors, it is an opportunity to contribute to the integration process, to earn a small income and to help a fellow human being.
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Refugees
Refugees and asylum seekers living in their new country of adoption get a chance to learn or improve on a selected topic.
It can be German language, computer skills, graphic design, tailoring and more. For many refugees, it is their first personal encounter with a local citizen. It helps them assert their position, climbing a first step on the long-term job ladder and as importantly, it potentially creates a bridge to a local fellow human being who could guide them on the path of integration.
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Meet our first Kimiyaa participants

Photo: Fabian Sommer
Photo: Fabian Sommer
Photo: Silvia Berger
Photo: Wei Ling Khor
Mert & Hashmatullah
Hashmatullah, 19, from Afghanistan wants to improve his German language skills which will hopefully help him find a job in Munich. He went to school for 12 years in Afghanistan and arrived in Munich at the end of 2015.
He left behind 6 brothers and sisters and headed to Germany on his own with hope of a better and safer future. He would also be interested in working as a car mechanic or, if that is not possible, in a hotel. Hashmatullah lives in a 700 people refugee center in Munich.
Mert is a law student, was born in Munich but knows the plight of refugees as his parents immigrated to Germany from Turkey. "Instead of just talking about it, I wanted to help and Kimiyaa gave me that opportunity. I'm happy to help a fellow human being, a fellow Muslim and guide him as best as I can for a successful integration".
Read their Story
Claudia & Bintou
Bintou, 26, from Mali arrived in Munich in November 2015 together with her husband and their 2 year-old daughter after a long stay in Libya. She would like to work as a secretary but realizes how difficult it is to learn the German language.
Together with computer skills, Claudia teaches her German and also how to organize herself and her little daughter to be able to attend German class every day.
Claudia works for different television companies as a freelancer, offers creative workshops and is the mother of a daughter. She says: “I am happy that I found Kimiyaa. The mentoring program does not only help our students but also brings benefits for both sides. For example, I can improve my rusty French with Bintou.“
Read their Story
Karen & Hamdi
Hamdi, 20, is a geology student from Syria who arrived in Munich in 2015. As the son of a graphic designer he wants to pursue a similar passion for (web) design and programming here in Germany.
Karen is a professional designer working in an atelier where Hamdi will also get to know her co-workers.
Karen: "Hamdi is a fast learner and he likes to joke around". Hamdi: "I am very grateful to get this chance, learning computers with Karen is fun and I also get to improve my German speaking skills…double win."
Read their Story
Elisabeth & Ousman
Ousman is 19 years old and arrived in Munich from Gambia two years ago. He wants to become a gardener after passing the necessary German school exam in September 2017. Elisabeth is a Munich-based gardener, growing plants in her nursery.
Ousman about Elisabeth: “She is very friendly to me. She teaches me how to name the plants in German and how to transplant the small plants carefully. Sometimes she also helps me with my homework.”
Elisabeth is interested in other cultures and wants Germany to be seen around the world as a welcoming country: "Ousman is so enthusiastic" she says, "he is very grateful to the chance of being welcomed in Germany and he really wants to fit in and be part of our society as fast as possible".
Read their Story

Support the Kimiyaa family

Phil & Elena
Toronto
Karen
Munich
Hamdi
from Syria
Graphic design
Graphic design
Phil & Elena
Toronto
Karen
Munich
Hamdi
from Syria
Hamdi, 20, is a geology student from Syria who arrived in Munich in 2015. As the son of a graphic designer he wants to pursue a similar passion for (web) design and programming here in Germany.
Karen is a professional designer: "Hamdi is a fast learner and I enjoy his jokes!". Hamdi: "I am very grateful to get this chance, learning computers with Karen is fun and I also get to improve my German speaking skills…double win!"
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Ruthie
Vancouver
Cooper
Vancouver
Elisabeth
Munich
Ousman
from Gambia
Gardening Course
Gardening Course
Ruthie
Vancouver
Cooper
Vancouver
Elisabeth
Munich
Ousman
from Gambia
Ousman from Gambia (19) came to Germany in autumn 2014 and wants to become a gardener after passing the necessary school exam. In Elisabeth, a Munich-based gardener, he found the right person to motivate him.
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Loli & Scott
Fort Worth, Texas
Claudia
Munich
Bintou
from Congo
Windows programmes
Windows programmes
Loli & Scott
Fort Worth, Texas
Claudia
Munich
Bintou
from Congo
Bintou, 26, from Mali arrived in Munich in November 2015 together with her husband and their 2 year-old daughter after a long stay in Libya. Together with computer skills, Claudia teaches her German and also how to organize herself and her little daughter so that she is also able to attend German class every day. Claudia: “I am happy that I found Kimiyaa. The mentoring program does not only help our students but also brings benefits for both sides.“
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Mert
Munich
Hasmatullah
from Afghanistan
Computer-based German lessons
Computer-based German lessons
Mert
Munich
Hasmatullah
from Afghanistan
Hashmatullah, 19, from Afghanistan wants to improve his German language skills which will hopefully help him find a job in Munich. He went to school for 12 years in Afghanistan and left behind six brothers and sisters and headed to Germany on his own. Mert is a law student, was born in Munich but knows the plight of refugees as his parents immigrated to Germany from Turkey. "Instead of just talking about it, I wanted to help and Kimiyaa gave me that opportunity. I'm happy to help a fellow human being, a fellow Muslim and guide him as best as I can for a successful integration".
Close
Kathrin
Munich
Olaide
from Nigeria
German lessons
German lessons
Kathrin
Munich
Olaide
from Nigeria
Olaide is very motivated to learn the German language since she recognizes how important it is to find a good job. Directly after attending her German classes, she meets with Kathrin in the evening.
Kathrin feels that Olaide needs the 1:1 lessons for repetition and to have the opportunity to speak German.
Azur
Munich
Mahdi
from Afghanistan
Computer lessons
Computer lessons
Azur
Munich
Mahdi
from Afghanistan
Mahdi (19) arrived in Munich in autumn 2015 where he lives in a refugee shelter with 700 people. He will learn from his mentor Azur how to use the MS Office programmes and the internet, and also how to write a job application. Azur is an IT specialist and has been helping refugees for a long time. Azur and Mahdi have struck a friendly relationship on their first meeting. Help support the mentorship.
Silke
Munich
Fatemah
from Afghanistan
Basic computer training
Basic computer training
Silke
Munich
Fatemah
from Afghanistan
Fatemeh came to Munich at the end of 2015. In Afghanistan she worked as a tailor for 2 years. She had no experience at all with the computer and wants to learn the Windows programmes since she is aware of the importance of PC knowledge for any profession.
Silke was trainer for at Siemens AG in Munich and is happy to have the opportunity to pass on her thorough knowledge to Fatemeh. The two women motivate each other showing their enthusiasm.
Lisa
Munich
Ibrahim
from Sierra Leone
German lessons
German lessons
Lisa
Munich
Ibrahim
from Sierra Leone
Ibrahim, 25, from Sierra Leone, started an apprenticeship as warehouse specialist in September 2016 and fortunately, he realised that he still needs to improve his knowledge of German, in particular for the vocational school.
As a student of Political Sciences, Lisa also talks about the political situation with Ibrahim. Their priority is, however, the background knowledge Ibrahim needs for the vocational school to be able to understand the texts and his homework.
Florian
Munich
Maryam
from Irak
Mathematics
Mathematics
Florian
Munich
Maryam
from Irak
More information coming soon ...
Sanela
Munich
Eltaf
from Afghanistan
Computer lessons
Computer lessons
Sanela
Munich
Eltaf
from Afghanistan
More information coming soon ...
Bram
Munich
Robbier
from Eritrea
Windows programmes
Windows programmes
Bram
Munich
Robbier
from Eritrea
Robbier arrived in Munich in December 2015 where he lives in a refugee shelter with 200 people. He also participates in the Joblinge programme which now also aims at integrating refugees for the labour market. In Eritrea he went to school for 10 years and then he had to escape from life-long military service.
Bram, an IT specialist holding a M.Sc. in Automotive Engineering, originally from Indonesia, is very keen on passing on his computer knowledge to his very interested student.
Elisabeth
Munich
Nicole
from Uganda
Piano lessons
Piano lessons
Elisabeth
Munich
Nicole
from Uganda
Nicole from Uganda, 16, came to Munich at the end of 2015 together with her mother and her 1-year-old sister. She goes to school and her German is already brilliant.
Elisabeth, 23, learned to play her first musical instrument when she was five years old. She teaches Nicole how to play the piano together with reading the music. "Nicole is highly motivated and learns very quickly. It's a pleasure for me to see that."
Peter
Munich
Mojtaba
from Afghanistan
Guitar lessons
Guitar lessons
Peter
Munich
Mojtaba
from Afghanistan
More information coming soon ...
Inge
Munich
Rubaba
from Afghanistan
Computer lessons
Computer lessons
Inge
Munich
Rubaba
from Afghanistan
Rubaba, 29, attended a two-year teacher training in Afghanistan. She arrived in Munich in winter 2015/16 and will also improve her German during the computer classes.
Inge is a professional computer trainer with a lot of experience and patience. They have already drafted a CV for a job application and Inge also motivates Rubaba to use the special computer programmes for refugees in the public library to improve her German.



Enes
Munich
Jusef
from Afghanistan
House hunting
House hunting
Enes
Munich
Jusef
from Afghanistan
More information coming soon ...
Nermin
Munich
Imad
from Syria
Computer lessons
Computer lessons
Nermin
Munich
Imad
from Syria
Imad, 29, came to Munich in summer 2015. He owned a mobile phone shop in Damaskus. The most important for him is to learn German and then he would like to start an "Ausbildung". Imad already had basic computer knowledge and learns very quickly, also because he often practices on his own during the week. "Of course, we are friends now", both of the emphasize.
Nermin says: "We are all human beings and I wish to help where I can. I am a migrant myself, and as a child in the former Yugoslavia I also experienced how bad a war can be."
Click here to view more mentorships waiting for funding
Ruthie
Sponsor from Vancouver

"The world seems to be going to a wrong place, countries looking inwardly and there is little compassion for the other. I love the idea that Kimiyaa enables us to do just the opposite and get together to support refugee integration."

Loli & Scott
Sponsors from Texas

"I've been watching what's happening in Europe, the heart breaking images of refugees fleeing violence and despair and like others around, I wanted to help."

Phil & Elana
Sponsors from Toronto

"We welcomed the opportunity to help in a direct way, to know we are supporting people in Germany building bridges between refugees and established local citizens. We'd like to hope it's a small but meaningful effort to bring a bit of peace and sanity in a world where prejudice is becoming the norm."

Team

Eytan Heller
Founder
Born in Brussels, Eytan resides in London where he leads European business development efforts at SolarEdge Technologies Inc., a public company traded on the NASDAQ (SEDG). Eytan has a diverse background in entrepreneurship, social activism and documentary film making and has consistently taken an active role in promoting civil rights through creative artistic and grass-roots projects. Eytan holds a B.A. in Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a M.Sc. in Politics of the World Economy from the London School of Economics.
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Jason Myers
Founder
Jason is a lawyer based in Israel. Previously he worked for Kav L'Oved non-profit focused on defending and promoting the labor rights of Palestinian and migrant workers in Israel. Jason holds a B.A. in International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a JD in Law (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Miami School of Law.
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Matthew Graham
Founder
Matt lives and works in Washington DC. He is a digital media entrepreneur and business leader with 15+ years of experience working at the leading edge of digital and broadcast video. Matt is Vice President of Acorn TV, a premier SVOD service delivering the best of British TV to audiences across North America. Matt co-founded and ran PBS Digital Studios - winner of 6 Webby awards. Matt holds a MBA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
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Danna Heller
Director of Development
Based in London, Danna manages our development programme and day-to- day operations. Danna’s professional roots are in the world of contemporary art and culture. She was recently the Executive Director of a well-established UK-based Arts Charity. While living in Israel, Danna conceived and produced numerous socially-engaged projects in leading cultural institutions. She holds an M.A in Art History and Museology from Tel Aviv University.
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Janet Lim
Advisor
Janet was formerly the Assistant High Commissioner in charge of operations in UNHCR. During her 34-year career with the UN, she has served in various positions both in UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva and in the field. Her field assignments have included leading UNHCR's country and emergency operations in different parts of the world, including Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Western Sahara and Syria. During her career with the UN, she has also been seconded to UNAIDS and to the peacekeeping operation, UNAMA, in Afghanistan.
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Allan Leas
Advisor
Born in South Africa, Allan left his home country and was granted asylum in London in 1979 where he was a founder member of the Committee on South African War Resistance and he worked for the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the ANC. For 16 years, Allan was the Secretary General of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles. As a consultant (voluntary sector) he has worked for OSI, UNHCR, the Dutch Council for Refugees and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. Allan lives and works in England.
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Yoni Ben-Meshulam
Advisor
As Senior Engineer at Google (California), Yoni develops technologies and products that drive positive outcomes for society. He specializes in machine learning, service engineering, application engineering, data architecture, system architecture, experimental design and analytics. Yoni holds dual degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering and in Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin.
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Ralf Schröder
Advisor
Ralf is a Software Architect who started his career in the field of Enterprise Software where he learned the craft of building robust and useful applications from the ground up. Following years working for PeopleSoft, Ralf joined Workday, the highly visible Silicon Valley endeavor. In 2015, Ralf started to volunteer in his local refugee helper circle where he quickly realized the urgent need for better coordination of volunteers and founded the social startup www.lale.help (Munich).
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Help Kimiyaa grow!
FAQs
What is the geographical scope of Kimiyaa?
I'm interested in donating money and in supporting a mentorship. Can I donate any amount? Can my donation be recognized as tax deductible?
How can I become a mentor? How does it work practically?
Can all refugees participate in the mentoring program and how do they register?
Is there a minimum age for mentors and refugees?
Where do refugees and mentors meet and study?
What happens after a refugee completes a first study period? Can it be extended? Does Kimiyaa help refugees find work?
How does Kimiyaa plan to use its proceeds and grow?

Individual model

  • Graphic design lesson at â‚¬25/hour
  • Sponsor supports 24 hours
€600 supporting mentorship and Kimiyaa growth

Multiple donors model

  • Graphic design lesson at €25/hour
  • Sponsors support 24 hours
€600 supporting mentorship and Kimiyaa growth
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