Albert’s family fell apart when he was 5 years old. He relates how he and his brother and sister lived in a hut made of planks, tarpaulins and plastic sheets. His father only had casual jobs in the construction industry. The children gathered recyclable waste, which they then sold. And they collected everything else that they could use in some way.
At one point, Albert and his younger sister even went begging in the streets. “Our brother was too small, he was only about 3, so we didn’t take him with us”, Albert recalls. One day he heard about the Center for Youth Integration (CIM), but he was afraid at first: “We thought they’d take us to an orphanage”. But he eventually dared to go to the CIM drop in shelter with his brother and sister. “We couldn’t just come and go as we pleased; we had to follow the rules and even go to school”, he says.
Still in touch with the CIM team
At 16 he was too old for the drop in shelter, so he worked as a rubbish collector again. But he kept in touch with the CIM centre and called in from time to time. He’d asked for clean clothes and support. That’s how, aged 17, he heard about the newly opened “Café 16”. This social initiative is a place where young people can meet. “The first time I came here I thought to myself ‘that’s not for me’, but I forced myself to speak with them and give it a try”, says Albert. “I’d already been in cafés and restaurants – it’s not as if I’d never seen one. But I was anxious about going in and talking about something that could change my life”, he recalls. Even though the interview went well, he still felt some anxiety. But Albert refused to give up and then successfully took part in a catering course. He learned all he needed to know about preparing drinks, serving customers, operating the till and other job requirements.
Motivation for his training
4 years later he’s a relaxed and self-confident barman and waiter. He attended a secondary college and completed his training as a chef. “I’ve always dreamt of that”, he says. He had stayed in touch with the CIM centre the entire time. The team there motivated him to keep going.
Albert has now been able to leave the slum and rent an apartment. He has married and is now father to a daughter. “We want to make sure she has a good life. Nobody should have to go through what I did”, Albert asserts.
*The text is taken from the website of the global program of the German Development Cooperation for Migration for Development: