“You should see the joy in their eyes and hear their happiness,” said Major Mark Backhaus, Salvation Army Officer in Germany, referring to the refugees served with food, shelter and furnishings in the town of Leipzig where The Salvation Army is actively meeting demand.
“We are blessed with this extraordinary possibility to serve and to experience becoming a family with a lot of people from other cultures,” he added.
Germany continues to be the most popular destination for migrants arriving in Europe, having received the highest number of new asylum applications as of the end of 2015.
Funds from The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) made possible the creation of a new thrift store in Leipzig to store household wares, clothing, toys, electronics and furniture. The once small-scale furniture project was recently scaled up to provide furnishings for some of the more than 6,000 asylum seekers who arrived in the city in 2015. According to Backhaus, approximately 60 new clients are registered monthly with the facility and set up with furnishings for their apartments.
Logistics support for the furniture program was provided by a technical specialist from UPS, a longstanding partner of The Salvation Army.
With a commitment to providing long-term response, The Salvation Army is focusing on building relationships, helping asylum seekers integrate into their new surroundings and adapt to a new culture. Immediate needs such as food, clothing and emotional and spiritual support are provided, while language classes and parent-and-baby groups aid assimilation among participants.
“We thank our American friends and supporters. Without your engagement, this project would not have been realized,” Backhaus said. “What a privilege to see God in action.”