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Paving the road towards social inclusion

An interview with Thami Schweichler

Text & photos by: Nadine Maarhuis

“We believe that there’s a lot of talent entering Europe. And Europe is in need of that talent. That’s why co-creation between locals and newcomers is beneficial for both sides.”

Meet Thami Schweichler: a young change maker with a refreshing perspective on the refugee ‘crisis’. Together with both newcomers and locals, Thami focuses on the positive side of the situation. “We believe that there’s a lot of talent entering Europe. And Europe is in need of that talent. When newcomers and locals collaborate, opportunities are co-created and knowledge is shared. It’s this beneficial side of the situation that we choose to focus on.” As co-founder of the social enterprise Makers Unite, Thami is paving the road towards social inclusion by encouraging both locals and newcomers to collaborate.

About Makers Unite

Makers Unite is trying to instigate a cultural shift by connecting locals and newcomers. Together with both groups they co-create sustainable products out of life-vests collected on Greek shores. “The life-vests are a powerful symbol for the transition newcomers make”, Thami explains. “On the one hand, they signify the things they have fled away from. On the other, they stand for entering a new world of opportunities. Inspired by this, we started making the Re-Vest Life ribbons out of life-vests that signify unity, equality and togetherness.” By encouraging people to wear the ribbons and carry out the story behind it, Makers Unite tries to open up the dialogue about newcomers and integration in a new and more positive way.

Social inclusion program

In the coming months Makers Unite will increase the scope of their impact by launching a social inclusion program for newcomers. The aim of the program is to discover newcomers’ needs, to gain their trust and to connect them to local partners. “Hassan is one of the people that inspired us in developing this program”, Thami says. “He started as one of our tailors. During conversations about his dreams and wishes, Hassan told us that he wanted to be a computer engineer. When I asked him what he already knew about it, I was flabbergasted. He had been studying by himself for a long time. Together with Hack Your Future, we were able to get him the right education. Now he’s studying to become a computer programmer. What happened with Hassan is key to us. That’s what we want to achieve.”

Call to action

Although Makers Unite can help newcomers take the first step in the process of co-creation and integration, they cannot do it alone. In order to successfully give newcomers the push in the right direction, they need people, partners and initiatives that want to co-create the road towards social inclusion together with them. And that’s where you come in! Makers Unite is looking for people who think they can contribute to their mission in a meaningful way. Whether you’re a designer, psychologist, social initiative or integration expert; all help is appreciated. So, are you or do you know someone like that? Please let us know or contact

Makers Unite is initiated by the Dutch organization The Beach and the Greek organization Odyssea. Recently, Makers Unite won the What Design Can Do - Refugee Challenge. For more information, visit their website!

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