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9/2/2020

“My choice was clear: I had to leave Syria.”

Mohammad Khalefeh

Mohammad Khalefeh, 23, fled from Damascus five years ago. In Syria, he saw his best friend be killed in a rocket attack during the country’s civil war. And he understood that he had to make a decision. Looking back, he sums up: “In Syria, I had the choice: Either I could join the military and kill people – or I would be killed as a civilian. My choice was clear: I had to leave. To a place where I feel safe and comfortable, where I can develop myself, where I have opportunities.” Mohammad paid about €7,000 for his escape from the country. The journey took four weeks: on foot, by bus and on a rubber dinghy with 40 other persons on board – individuals who did not include his family. His mother and two siblings stayed behind in Damascus, and his father remained in Aleppo.

The first steps in a new world

He had hardly set foot in Germany when he received a helping hand from a Hamburg initiative called “Kids Welcome”. The group helps refugee children and adolescents get a foothold in the new world and get their bearings in a foreign country. At “Kids Welcome” Mohammad finally completed a voluntary year. At that time, a colleague put him in touch with Beiersdorf. Then everything quickly took on a life of its own from there. “IT has always been my topic, so I was unbelievably grateful that I was allowed to do a one-year internship at Beiersdorf, my so-called introductory qualification year. The team welcomed me with open arms. And I quickly felt right at home and began learning all sorts of things.”

A call to understand the plight of refugees

Mohammad continues to work at “Kids Welcome” today: Together with other refugees, he is active in a project called “WALK IN MY SHOES”. In this program, they visit schools and tell children and teenagers about their life in Damascus and their flight from Syria. “The children sit there, wide-eyed, listen and ask lots of questions: What is life in Syria like? How was it before the war? Is your family still alive? Do you have contact with them? Have you seen dead bodies? How did you cross the sea?” Mohammad does not always answer the questions fully – “the reality is simply too much for young people.” Nonetheless, he wants to help them understand what the flight from his homeland was really like – by changing perspectives, answering questions and playing interactive games.

Interview Mohammad Khalefeh

“The way to a new future”

Mohammad Khalefeh is grateful for the new direction that his life has taken and for the opportunities that this new direction has presented to him. Even after his internship he remains part of the Beiersdorf family: “In August, I had the chance to start my IT training program at Beiersdorf,” he says. “It is an opportunity for which I want to thank Beiersdorf from the bottom of my heart because it has opened the way for me to have a new life and a new future.”

The “ARD Morgenmagazin” accompanied Mohammad for a day. You can find the video clip from August 31 in the ARD Mediathek.

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About the editor: Martina Perez

Martina has been part of the Corporate Communications team for many years as a PR consultant and knows the media scene very well. And the journalists know Martina. She coordinates and answers media inquiries, supports filming projects, and she is our contact person for daily press reviews and continuous media monitoring. In addition, she is responsible for the conception and organization of selected press conferences, for example for the successful long-term cooperation project between NIVEA and DLRG.