Europe

Refugee home in Austria saved by former resident

Sukhdeep Singh was 17 years old when he arrived in the Austrian town of Baden to start a new life after leaving his native India.

A place there for unaccompanied migrant children was his home for six years.

The building was run by a Christian NGO and years later, when they could no longer keep it running, Sukhdeep stepped in to take it over.

Now, he has bought it to turn into housing – for asylum-seeker families too.

One of his fond memories of the home was a bond he developed with Jewish actor and writer Otto Tausig, who was key in setting up the house.

“If somebody is buying who does not have any connection or relation to Otto Tausig or this house they immediately remove the name and remove the history of this house, so this was the emotional point for me. This building I will create something beautiful, ” Sukhdeep Singh said.

Sukhdeep, now in his mid-30s, is a project manager at multinational company Siemens.

Social workers, teachers and psychologists helped him to develop and understand the local culture – and the language. He says he was treated with respect.

As the EU has fortified its borders in recent years, the rate of new arrivals has plummeted.

The number of “unaccompanied underaged asylum-seekers” went from 8,300 in 2015 to just 390 three years later.

And now, with this project, Sukhdeep hopes he can help give back to others who are in need, the way he once was.

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