The founders of the project "Müttersprache", Anne-Sophie Waag (l.) and Sandra Haldimann with the managing director of the Business School, Dr. Ingo Bayer, at the hand-over of the donation. Photo credit: Nele Westrick

Giving Mothers a Voice

Project for refugee women wins Social Project Contest 2019 of the Business School

„Müttersprache“ (engl. „Mother tongue“) is the winner of the Social Project Contest 2019. “Müttersprache” offers language courses and simultaneous childcare for refugee women in Mannheim. The Business School invited student initiatives of the University of Mannheim to apply for start-up financing for their social projects.

For many people, arriving in a new country first means learning a new language. Likewise, many refugees usually attend weeklong language and integration courses in order to find their way around and communicate in their new home. However, for many fugitive mothers it is difficult if not impossible to attend an all-day language course as they ask themselves: who will be taking care of our children during this time?

First point of contact for refugee mothers

Anne-Sophie Waag and Sandra Haldimann recognized this problem. The research assistant at the University of Mannheim and the translator have long been involved in the student initiative “Nice to meet you” and have had close contact with several refugee families whom they also supported in their family reunification and arrival. The women, most of whom emigrated after other family members, were often unable to attend language courses and thus found it more difficult than their husbands to connect with locals or even find a job in Mannheim since they were involved with household chores and childcare. That is when Waag and Haldimann started their association “Müttersprache” by offering those women an easily accessible first point of contact for learning the German language.

Accompanying women and children during arrival in Germany

“Project 'Müttersprache' is a very intensive, sometimes exhausting, but above all enriching experience for everyone involved: we got to know people we otherwise probably would never have come into contact with. We were able to accompany women and their children during their arrival in Germany and witnessed their development and progress. We learnt how much we can accomplish through voluntary efforts alone,” explains Anna-Sophie Waag. Especially the experience that private commitment can in fact make a difference, however limited it may be, positively surprised and strengthened her.

“The Social Project Contest proves that personal commitment always pays off. It is beautiful to see students and staff of the University of Mannheim help people in the city of Mannheim with their projects and leave a lasting impact also outside of the university”, rejoices the Managing Director of the Business School, Dr. Ingo Bayer.  

Using the donation of €1,200 from the Social Project Contest, the directors of “Müttersprache” plan on employing an assistant who takes care of the many organizational questions and tasks in the restructuring phase of their project. In the long term, “Müttersprache” wants to network and cooperate more closely with local organizations such as the International Office of the University of Mannheim or the task force on women and migration of the City of Mannheim in order to receive more attention and possible financing.

“Müttersprache” on Facebook and Instagram.

About the Social Project Contest

Students at the University of Mannheim are not only educated in their field, they are also involved in numerous extracurricular student initiatives and projects. They are aware that not only academic achievements matter; they also want to apply their theoretical knowledge, solve problems and help. There are plenty of good ideas, yet projects often lack the necessary start-up financing.

That is why, in 2016, the Business School of the University of Mannheim launched the “Social Project Contest” to which student initiatives at the University of Mannheim are encouraged to apply with one of their social projects. The Business School supports the winning project through the sale of vintage wine at the annual graduation celebration for the Bachelor’s program  “Business Administration”: one euro per bottle is automatically transferred to the winning project. The cooperating Mannheim Business School will double the amount in the end.