Help for students in need
For 20 years the association “Hilfe für ausländische Studierende e. V.” (HauS) has been active in helping students from around the world who have found themselves in a pinch through no fault of their own. Two students from the Ukraine and Nepal explain how the charity helped them by providing not only money, but also assurance.
The volunteers at HauS know all too well the difficult conditions some international students face when studying far away from home. Whether it be red tape, poverty or a lack of tolerance that threatens to upset their plans, the association helps 35 to 40 applicants every year to remain on course with their education in Halle. HauS has also helped Kateryna*, a qualified nurse who is studying health and nursing science. She is financing her education through hard work: Together with another nurse, she cares for 20 bed-ridden patients in a care home on the weekends. It wasn’t easy to manage this. “It is difficult to find work. My qualifications are not recognized here in Germany,” says the Ukrainian.
Several times she found herself unable to pay for rent or food during her studies – particularly when she was ill and unable to work. By chance she heard of HauS at the university. “I was surprised to find that Halle’s citizens are building a bridge of humanity through the association to help students in need.” Several times she turned to HauS, which came to her aid quickly each time. “They treated me with respect and their support motivated me to carry on and even to help others,” she beams. “I’ll never forget that!” Like many foreign students, Kateryna’s family, who she hasn’t seen in over a year, is unable to support her. “There are many reasons for this,” says the association’s managing director Dr. Margarete Wein. “While families often don’t have the means, sometimes further support is refused on the grounds of a “false” marriage. Many students also suffer from the fact that money cannot be easily transferred across every border.”
This was the experience of Thakur Acharya from Nepal. “My family would be happy to support me but are not allowed to transfer money out of Nepal.” The ambitious student became financially strapped when he did not pass his preliminary medical exams the first time and did not receive the scholarship he had applied for. “The Studentenwerk recommended I meet with Mr. Fischer and Ms. Wein. They made every effort to help me,” Acharya explains. HauS stepped in three times – the last time during his fourth year of study – to pay for his rent and health insurance premiums. “Without their help my education would have been delayed by another semester. I would have had to work one semester in order to continue to study.”
Sometimes a little non-bureaucratic support is enough to prevent students from having to perpetually work or even drop out. Sometimes money isn’t even the issue. In its 20 years of existence the association has strengthened its cooperation with Studentenwerk Halle, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and Evangelischen Studierenden- und Hochschulgemeinde Halle (ESG) which is overseen by student and university pastor and HauS board member Johann-Hinrich Witzel. “For many students all it takes is Studentenwerk’s offer of a free meal in the cafeteria,” Wein reports. “Studentenwerk also allows Syrian students in need of help to apply to live rent-free for three months in the dormitories.” Cooperation like this enables many more students to be helped since the budget is limited. “In addition to an annual grant from the university’s general endowment fund, which we gratefully acknowledge, the association’s work is funded by membership fees and donations,” says the managing director.
Once in a while there are large one-off donations, for example when professors make an appeal on the occasion of a round-number birthday. One very sad occasion was the murder of the Bulgarian student Mariya Nakovska in the spring of 2014. HauS made an appeal for donations together with ESG and Mariya’s friends to help support her family. “The response was overwhelming. We received so many donations that, not only could Mariya be transferred home to her parents to be buried, even more students could receive assistance.”
HauS has to budget. “Since funds are limited, priority is currently being given, upon careful review of each application, to students who will graduate soon,” Wein explains. In the future the association would also like to help students improve their chances of studying successfully and to improve the attractiveness of Halle as a place to study. Thakur Acharya can confirm that HauS is achieving its aim. He has finally received a “Brot für die Welt” scholarship and is now earning his doctorate alongside his studies. He recommends studying in Halle to his acquaintances back home and offers them advice and assistance. “Such help isn’t offered at other universities. I’m eternally grateful for it and would like to give something back and help others.”
Written by Melanie Zimmermann
*Name changed by the editorial staff.
“Halle – a temporary home” an appeal to international members of the university
People who come from other countries to study or teach here often find it difficult to arrive and find their footing in their new hometown. What was it like for you? Let others experience your hopes, disappointments and dreams! Write down what moves you! HauS would like to tell the city of Halle, its inhabitants, your fellow students and colleagues about your experiences. One step on the path towards living together better. Texts can be sent by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Submission deadline is 31 October 2014. There are also prizes to win.