“Personal contact is the quickest way to dissolve fears and prejudices” – INTERVIEW
Lisa Ertle is co-founder of the educational initiative Zeugen der Flucht e.V. (“Witnesses of Escape”). During the refugee crisis in 2015/2016, she and her fellow students asked themselves: How can we sensitize people to the living situation of refugees? Today, the association is successfully active in anti-racist educational work. The team of young people with and without refugee experience wants to put faces to refugee movements. Visiting school classes enables a direct exchange and encounter between refugees and young people at eye level in order to successfully break down prejudices.
What problem do you solve with Zeugen der Flucht e.V.? Why exactly does it need your solution?
Debates about flight and asylum are often characterized by prejudices, fears and media coverage. We want to do something to counteract this. According to the motto “talking to each other instead of about each other”, we enable direct exchange with refugees. Personal contact is the quickest way to dispel fears and prejudices.
What did you do before you started Zeugen der Flucht? And what or who finally moved you to become a social entrepreneur?
I worked as an educator in an in-custody group for unaccompanied minor refugees. There I had to deal with young people who had fled to Germany on their own. Hearing their stories and at the same time seeing in the media how people are happy about burning homes and shouting at refugees to “go home” did not go together. I felt the need to do something. Many didn’t understand what it meant to flee and no longer have a home.
What have been your biggest successes so far?
Over 150 workshops, funding from various foundations and supporters, integration award from the city of Freiburg, second location in Dresden, 5-year anniversary of the association.
Were there any moments or challenges where you thought you would fail and have to give it all up?
During the Corona pandemic, face-to-face meetings, the most important element of our workshops, were suddenly no longer possible.
Where should the journey go in the future and what are the next big goals?
More locations throughout Germany!
„I worked as an educator in an in-custody group for unaccompanied minor refugees. There I had to deal with young people who had fled to Germany on their own. Hearing their stories and at the same time seeing in the media how people are happy about burning homes and shouting at refugees to “go home” did not go together. I felt the need to do something. Many didn’t understand what it meant to flee and not have a home anymore.“ — Lisa Ertle, Chair of the Board of Zeugen der Flucht e.V.
As a social entrepreneur, what advice would you give when you have a great innovative idea but don’t know how to start?
You need motivated people and then just do it. Just start small, most things will come with time.
What is your personal source of inspiration (e.g. book, podcast) that motivates you even on difficult days?
What always motivates me are the great people I work with. The volunteers. And then also the work itself. Experiencing the workshops is so much fun, which then motivates me again for boring office and organizational work.
What are your tips for doing good in everyday life? And where do you find it difficult to live sustainably?
Be open and be inspired by other people. Maybe also reaching out to people with whom you don’t normally come into contact. But sometimes that’s exactly what I find difficult myself. Leaving your comfort zone is not always easy.
Add to this sentence: The world needs more …
… talking to each other instead of about each other!
In our new magazine format, we interview interesting entrepreneurs and focus on their ideas and their very personal stories. The interviews are intended to inspire, motivate and encourage people to put their own ideas into practice.
You know an exciting founder or entrepreneur we should interview? Write to us!
Andreas Renner, Co-Founder GOOD: email@example.com
We supported Zeugen der Flucht in February 2022 with the proceeds of GOOD. Find out more on the project page: