"As if it were their own home" On the Day of Caring Daimler employees help spruce up a refugee house

This year's Day of Caring was dedicated to helping refugees. Armed with brushes, paint, wood and power drills, 120 staff members from Mercedes-Benz Bank and Daimler Financial Services came together in April 2016 to renovate a refugee home in Stuttgart.

Provisional kitchens, long corridors and an overgrown garden. The refugee residence had a very dull and non-descript appearance. "We're located in the former health office for Stuttgart and this used to be the waiting room for x-rays," AWO manager Friedhelm Nöh explained about the premises. "Now there is enough room for 73 refugees. A total of 63 spaces are currently occupied – by people from 22 different countries," he added.

It was time to give these individuals a more attractive home.

With everyone wearing a uniform of a blue T-shirt, the employees' first task was painting the walls a sunny yellow. "It is fantastic to do something with your hands and to get together with co-workers from other departments who you otherwise wouldn't necessarily meet," commented Julia Hörmann, who normally works in Integration & Release Management, while she was painting the base of the hallway. Out in the garden employees worked on building a sand box and seating.

One particularly important feature of the day was the interaction with the refugees. A few residents slipped on a blue T-shirt and pitched in. Even though one or two of them may have been a bit shy, using gestures and actions plus roller and paint helped bridge the communication gap.

It is fantastic to do something with your hands and to get together with co-workers from other departments who you otherwise wouldn't necessarily meet

Julia Hörmann, Integration & Release Management

These individuals from foreign lands were glad to share details of their lives. They included young men who have been in Germany for three or four years and are awaiting a response from the authorities and are working temporary jobs to earn a bit of money, as well as a mother, who together with her three children, brothers, and her own mother has lived in this residence for 13 years.

"After today the main thing I will take away is being more careful not to have prejudices against refugees. This was the first time I have visited this kind of home – an emotional experience. But our conversations with the residents have shown me that you can't just lump everyone together into one group," said Olena Franchuk from Risk Management at Daimler Financial Services.

After the work had been completed everyone was exhausted but happy. "We really needed improvements to the house's appearance and it's nice having people here," said Hani from Palestine. "I was especially impressed by the fact that everyone was working as if it were their own home," said Martin Kurz from Mercedes-Benz Bank when summarizing the day. And he definitely was not the only one who felt that way. A few employees decided to stay in touch with the home after the Day of Caring and continue working on providing the inhabitants with a more pleasant atmosphere in their temporary accommodations.

Day of Caring Daimler Financial Services offers its employees a broad range of corporate volunteering opportunities.

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