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Arts

Why I volunteer: Refugee kids learn German via online coloring book

A picture is worth a thousand words. And pictures can also teach words. Illustrator Constanze von Kitzing co-founded an online coloring book that helps refugee kids - and you - learn German.

Writers, musicians, artists and actors in Germany are getting involved in helping refugees, using their popularity to call for more solidarity, collect donations or criticize racism. In three questions and three answers, DW's series "Why I volunteer" reveals why they decided to help.

DW: What do you do for refugees?

I had read so much about the refugee crisis and seen so much on TV, but wasn't really able to do anything since I'm so busy with my children. But then I posted something on Facebook and asked my friends to give me some ideas of what I could do. One of my friends is a social worker in a refugee center. She said that it's really difficult to come into contact with refugee children without a common language. She asked me whether I could draw some pictures that the kids could color. I thought the idea was good and considered how I could do that more systematically and on a larger scale. Then I met Karina Birkenstock, who was already working on a similar idea. We joined forces, which was very effective.

Constanze von Kitzing, Copyright: Frederic Lezmi

Constanze von Kitzing

In the end, we dropped the idea of doing the illustrations ourselves and decided to launch an international illustrators' campaign called

Illustratoren für Flüchtlinge.

Why do you volunteer?

I need to do something. I thought it was really important to be able to do something in an area in which I am a professional. I think it's clear that we should be helping. The good thing about illustrations to color is that they can motivate other people to help. If someone wants to help out in a refugee center, but don't know exactly what they can do, then they can just print out a few of these pictures and take them with them to the refugee home and work or play there with the kids.

What do you hope to achieve?

I would like people to have the opportunity to help and be able to help children in a constructive and effective way. The pictures don't necessarily have to be used in refugee centers. The long-term idea is that they can be used in schools where there are lots of refugee children.

At the age of just six, Constanze von Kitzing decided to become an illustrator. Her childhood dream became reality and, since then, her books have been published all over the world, from Australia to China, and Mexico to South Korea. The award-winning illustrator and mother of two lives and works in Cologne.

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