Empowering communities: “We teach them digital skills, they teach us about humility”

29 Oct 2019

by Robin Nierynck

As a tech company, there are a number of reasons why being based in Berlin is a perfect match. The vibrant tech scene is of course one of those reasons. But with such an abundance of tech talent, there are also ample opportunities to give something back to the city we operate in. That’s exactly what our Heroes Veronika, Ava and Massimo do.

All three employees volunteer at the ReDI school in Berlin. ReDI School of Digital Integration is a non-profit digital school that teaches digital skills to tech-interested locals and newcomers in Germany, with the aim of creating new opportunities for all.

Veronika Braun

Veronika Braun Delivery Hero

“Every type of volunteering is different, but in terms of what I do I like that it provides you a different view on life.” – Veronika Braun

Veronika is Director Global Contact Center, and has been at Delivery Hero for 3.5 years. Together with her team, she is responsible for ensuring that all 20+ contact centers around the world have systems in place that allow them to deliver a great service to customers, restaurant partners and riders when they get in touch.

How did you first get involved with ReDI?

I had been looking for volunteering opportunities related to refugees for many years but never found anything that was compatible with working full-time. In summer 2018, a friend of mine shared a link about ReDI school on Facebook and I decided to apply as a volunteer teacher for the women program.
Eventually, I shared my experiences with volunteering at ReDI school at work and received great feedback. For example Ava got in touch with me and then also became a teacher. Massimo used to be part of my team and also showed interest in volunteering at ReDi school after I told him about what I do there.

How do you contribute at ReDI?

I do two types of volunteering at ReDI school:

  1. I am a teacher for the course “Your first introduction to computers” since Fall 2018 as part of the Women Program.
  2. I am a workshop leader for the Digital Career Program since Spring 2019 (delivering workshops around how to find a job in Berlin).
Why is this initiative important to you?

I believe we are all lucky to have jobs that allow us to learn new skills, be challenged continuously and provide us with a steady income. As we all know that being in a privileged position is not purely based on merit but also on a lot of other factors (e.g. where we were born), I believe it is our duty to give back to those that are not in the same lucky situation as we are. Besides that I think that leaving our “bubble” every once in a while definitely does not hurt!

What do you personally take away from volunteering?

Every type of volunteering is different, but in terms of what I do I like that it provides you a different view on life. We are sometimes trapped in our “tech company mindset” and forget that there are other people out there who have a very different life (and in this case “different” does not mean worse, it simply means different). I can support them to achieve their goals (settling here in Germany with their family, finding a job,…) by giving my time and sharing my knowledge with them.

Massimo Zanesco

Massimo Zanesco Delivery Hero

“Even with small commitment, you will find the experience incredibly rewarding.” – Massimo Zanesco

Massimo is an Associate, Global Operations in Groceries & New Verticals. He took on this role a couple of months ago, but joined Delivery Hero roughly a year ago as part of the Global Contact Center team. Currently, he is part of an operations squad that supports the roll-out of new business verticals.

What kind of volunteering do you do?

I joined a group of volunteers at ReDI that teach basic computer skills such as how to use emails and Microsoft Office to female Syrian refugees. In particular, I helped plan the semester, prepared the material and taught the class on PowerPoint. Additionally, I frequently attend other classes with a supportive role to the main teacher.

Did you ever volunteer before this?

I did some volunteering work here and there but mostly through my schools when I was younger. Nothing really self-initiated before ReDI, even though I had been thinking of doing it for a while.

What impact does your volunteer work have on the community?

Most attendants are going through some form of schooling. Teaching them basic tech skills is pivotal for them to be able to find a job afterwards.

What do you like about volunteering?

Even with small commitment, you will find the experience incredibly rewarding. To give you an example, one older attendant of my classes is starting her own catering business, and it is especially exciting to see freshly taught PowerPoint tricks being applied to her business idea presentation she is preparing for the German government.

Ava Ghaiumy

Ava Ghaiumy Delivery Hero

“I think our classes at ReDI empower women to be more independent, to be informed and ultimately help them settle into life in Germany.” – Ava Ghaiumy

Ava has been with Delivery Hero over 2.5 years and is the Director of Business Development and Logistics for Delivery Hero Austria. This means Ava leads two teams: the Business Development team which runs all kinds of cross-functional projects to drive our Austrian business forward, and the Logistics team which is based in Austria and takes care of a fleet of 900 riders and 3rd parties in 12 cities.

Why did you decide to volunteer with ReDI?

When the refugee crisis first erupted in Germany, I started looking for opportunities to volunteer. My parents are from Iran and I grew up speaking Farsi, so I knew I could add value for the many refugees from Afghanistan as we speak the same language. I quickly realized that it’s not that easy to find the right organization to support, especially when you work full-time.

Then, over a year ago, I heard of Veronika’s call for teachers for ReDI and I immediately jumped at the opportunity to teach in the women’s program. ReDI doesn’t just offer me flexibility and the chance to volunteer on the weekend (classes for women are Saturdays from 10am-1.30pm), but the school supports a great cause: empowering women through technology.

What exactly do you do at ReDI?

I teach the beginners class in the women’s program. Our students are women who have mostly never interacted with computers before and are slowly learning the very basics such as turning the computer on, using a keyboard, and browsing the internet. I switch between preparing content for the classes, teaching and translating to Farsi, depending on what resources are needed.

Why is it important to give back in the tech sector?

Technology gives us access to all this knowledge and information that can help migrants navigate life here. In our class they gain not only the skill set, but also the confidence in order to leverage this. I think our classes at ReDI empower women to be more independent, to be informed and ultimately help them settle into life in Germany.

What would you say to someone that was considering volunteering?

If you’re considering to volunteer, I think It’s important to think about how much time you can and want to invest and stick with that: once a week or once a month – either is great as long as you commit as people are counting on you.

For me, volunteering is about leaving my own day-to-day behind and focusing on other people’s needs. Some of the women we teach were forced to quit school when they were kids and they got married and had children at a very young age. I have so much admiration for how committed these women are to learning and building a better future for themselves and their families. So we teach them about computers and they teach us a great deal about respect, humility and motivation!