Settling in

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Refugee proves hard work leads to progress in his new home in Germany.

Once in a while, we get updates about stories published in Kiwanis magazine.

In March 2016, we introduced you to Farhad Heidary, a refugee living in Germany. He told of his brave journey and how his heart ached to see his mom again.

Since the story published, a lot has changed for Farhad. Here’s his update.


In Ratzeburg, a quaint town with a population of about 14,000 located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, there are hundreds of refugees living among the locals. They are mostly young, motivated individuals from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Armenia, Eritrea and Iraq. Places most of us have only seen on a map or read about in news reports. They came here looking for a better life. And the Kiwanis Club of Ratzeburg is welcoming them and helping them find their way.

Ratzeburg, Cathedral and County Museum

Ratzeburg Kiwanian Werner Büttner sits at a large wooden table during a quick lunch break, his three-ring binder open to reveal information about many of the refugees he has come to know. As he talks of how the asylum process works (and doesn’t) in Germany, he flips through the pages, showing examples of just how much back-and-forth needs to happen to do things most of us would consider commonplace: finding an education, a house, a job. None of this is easy for a refugee.

“These are motivated young people,” he says. “We have to do something. You can’t hate them. Once you know them, and they have a face, you can’t hate them.”

One of those refugees is Farhad Heidary. He’s from Afghanistan. He now lives in Ratzeburg, and finds Werner to be a wealth of knowledge and guidance. And a friend.

Things have changed a lot for Farhad since Kiwanis magazine published his story in March 2016.

He’s speaking and writing the German language exceptionally well, and has successfully passed his A1 level exams. He secured an internship at a large company in Ratzeburg, which then became a full-time job. And his biggest news of all: He recently received confirmation for a three-year residency permit from the Federal Office for Immigration and Refugees. This residency permit could become permanent at the end of those three years—meaning he could stay legally in Germany for as long as he wants. He could apply to attend university. And he can now move about more freely, including travel outside of Germany. Meaning he can finally see his parents again.

“Things are moving fast and time flies,” he says. “I feel better and find myself somehow a part of this community and I have been able to integrate myself. I am doing well.”

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