In line with its 40th Anniversary, which is dedicated to the plight of refugees, OFID has supported a number of Austrian NGOs that deliver services and support to those who have lost everything. One of these NGOs is Wieder Wohnen, the biggest provider of housing and support for homeless people in Vienna, which is currently providing shelter to over 600 refugees. But alongside housing, refugees also receive a wide range of services, such as German language courses and other activities to support their social integration.
OFID visited the facilities of Wieder Wohnen and had the chance to talk to some of its residents. Among them is a family from Iraq who were forced to flee their homeland and are now hoping for a better future in Austria.
“I want to be a surgeon one day,” says 16 year-old Sayyed J, the youngest family member.
“I feel very safe here in Austria. People here don’t make you feel alienated. I am very much looking forward to learning the language as quickly as possible,” he says.
The biggest wish of his mother, Mona, is that her children “will continue studying and serve the country that helped us as refugees.”
She explains: “This is what I wish for all my children. The most precious thing we feel here in Austria is safety and security. When my children go out, I am not worried about them. My heart is comforted and reassured.”
Sayyed’s older sister, Huda, is convinced that the whole family will have a better future now. “Dealing and getting along with people we meet on the streets is amazing. I just can’t describe my feelings about how friendly people are here. I don’t feel like a stranger at all.
“My brother was wounded in the leg and I took him to the hospital. We were very well treated and we never felt alienated. Even though I don’t speak the language very well yet, everybody is so courteous.
“We have met with so many people from various countries. Now, we have many friends from all over the world.
“In the university in Iraq I studied economics, banking and financial sciences. I wish to work here in Austria. I would also like to further my studies. I feel that everything is possible here,” says Huda.
OFID’s support to local NGOs that deliver services and support to refugees is intended as a sign of solidarity, both with the people torn from their roots and with OFID’s host city Vienna, which continues to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden.
OFID has regularly reached out to refugees since its inception in 1976. It is especially proud of its longstanding cooperation with organizations such as the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Red Cross, all of which provide assistance, care and shelter to refugees.