Refugee crisis in Europe: Advice sought

Hi all,

I’m not sure if Xojo is the right tool nor wether there might be better solutions to the problem.

I assume you have heard of the refugee crisis in Europe, especially Germany.

Three weks ago I decided to get involved, and it has been immensely frustrating. Here about 5 miles outside Heidelberg the former US barracks “Patrick Henry Village” (PHV) is being used as a primary refugee center (they’ll house asylum seekers up to a maximum of two years). Currently it houses about 2700 refugees, over 700 of them small kids.

The refugees are able to come out as they please. In Heidelberg there are a lot of people willing to help, however for security reasons (Neo-Nazi threats) they are not allowed inside PHV.

So the problem is:

  • a great need for help on one side, a great willingness to help on the other, and a security service (of 30 people in total providing 24/7 security) which is the bottle neck.
  • a work- and labour-intensive way of dealing with refugees by the administration (which is not using IT as it can be used; everyone wants to stay in control and not do anything that might backfire)

The solution is fairly obvious (at least to me): enable people to self-organize.

  • Have a forum where refugees can register their abilities, so if something is needed people can quickly look up whom to contact (eg translate Farsi into English, German into Persian, fix something, etc)
  • Have a forum where refugees can say what they need (cooker, toys, lamp) or want to do (language course, visit the zoo, meet for a meal, singing)
  • Have a forum where people can say what they what they are willing to do to help (have people translating for those who don’t speak German)
  • enable them to get into contact with each other
  • have a centralized list of suitable locations (like community centers, youth enters, other available rooms)
  • have an automatic booking system where someone can say “I need a place for 10 people do do cooking / singing / lanhguage courses” where the one booking is responsible for cleaning up and returning the location in good condition

I’m still in the process of working out the details and looking for ways to force the administration to implement them (everyone is saying I should go to somebody else and I end up where I started). I’m not sure Xojo is the best suited tool for the job, and if I use it it might be enough to write the necessary open-source web app (hopefully with the help of people on the forum) and ask Xojo for permission to distribute compiled versions (someone else would need to compile it as I do not have the web edition). Next week I’ll also be trying to get the University IT department (and some others) involved.

So my questions are:

Can Xojo Web Edition handle this? (If yes then I guess with PostGres at the backend)

If not then what other tools would you recommend? Which forum software?

Thanks for any advice.

P.S. Any Access programmers around who can help to write a client management software to be used in PHV for the Diakonisches Hilfswerk (for free) ?

It can probably be done with scaling, depends on the amount of active users and memory your server has.
Best would be to have a way of scaling the webapp.

I’m interested in knowing: do these people/refugees have internet access?

While I’m all for helping those in need…
shouldn’t food, blankets, shelter come before toys and trips to the zoo?
shouldn’t integrating them into the infrastructure of the host country to make them productive citizens come before having sing-a-longs?
shouldn’t a hand-up come at least in parallel with a hand-out?

I am not sure if this is the right place and forum to discuss Markus.

And I have a big problem with this issue because while companies like Rheinmetall, Krupp, Diehl, Heckler&Koch and many more are generating exorbitant values and cash in exporting defence goods and arms straight into the middle east, the public has to deal with the collateral damages and “left-overs”. And while we in Europe have to deal with these implications of failed US politics and nation building attempts in the middle east, Lybia and Ukraine they are safe on the other side of the Atlantic. Is this fair?

just my 5 cents…

  1. Xojo is not well suited for forum software but given the right architecture it could be done.
  2. I recommend something PHP based that already works. NodeBB is also nice and easy to get going in a hosting environment.

Please discuss this somewhere else.

[quote=212960:@Dave S]While I’m all for helping those in need…
shouldn’t food, blankets, shelter come before toys and trips to the zoo?
shouldn’t integrating them into the infrastructure of the host country to make them productive citizens come before having sing-a-longs?
shouldn’t a hand-up come at least in parallel with a hand-out?[/quote]
Basic needs are taken care of in PHV. We are talking about people here in Heidelberg in Germany and what to do with them, not those stuck at the borders to the UK or Hungary.

You can’t integrate them into the work force until they speak the language. Singing is an excellent way to learn a language, memorize the words, practice pronounciation, and helps with integration. A bit a less condescending attitude would be appreciated.

To effectively organize things you need to provide the information structure. Most refugees have Smartphones and use Facebook but it is not an effective way of organizing thousands of people (both refugees and those willing to help).

The idea is to make it easy for both refugees and helpers to organize themselves. There are too many small well-meaning labour-intensive initiatives and projects which may make you feel good (and might even help a few people) but are not effective in the long run.

This is not a political discussion thread. Please stick to the topic.

[quote=212983:@Phillip Zedalis]1. Xojo is not well suited for forum software but given the right architecture it could be done.
2. I recommend something PHP based that already works. NodeBB is also nice and easy to get going in a hosting environment.[/quote]
Thanks Philip. Appreciate the advice.

I was thinking along the lines of using existing forum software with a Xojo web app to do the parts which go beyond, like the booking system, but am still unsure if that approach is best.

I don’t have experience with PHP but am happy to delegate and work with programmers here in Heidelberg that are.

It is in off-topic, and it is a question on how Xojo could be used to help with the issue. Where do you suggest I post the question? On the Python forums?

Feel free to ignore the thread.

Dear Markus,

You really know how to start a flaming war. Really, you have a natural talent for it and should be a very good warlord.

You are a German and European citizen. As such, you know how sensitive and difficult this subject is among Europeans. This is not the time and place to discuss this. Why besides of you, did nobody else started a thread about the refugee crisis in Europe? As European we all now how sensitive and dangerous this subject is, because Europe is divided.

It does not surprise me at all that you receive no answers and are ignored by anybody. Those organisations do not need a forum, or any fancy development tool on this moment.

What they really need is people who are willing to work in the field and make their hands dirty. Many of those refugees can hardly read and write. Even lesser of them know how to work with a computer. And those who can, have other worries on their head. They left their homes behind, many of them are separated from their families. They do not even know if their families made it.

There is a tendency to use those refugee children nowadays to moralise others but hide their own lack of moral. People really want to help, do not use children for their project. They actually just help where they can and where their help is needed.

And by the way Markus, there is free forum and blog software available. There is no need to re-invent the wheel again. By the way, how long will it take until your fancy forum will be up and running? Probably by that time, the refugee crisis is under control.

What those refugees really need is a safe place to stay, medical care, food and drinks, education for both their children and themselves and our respect.

Somebody should lock and remove this thread. It does not contribute anything to the problem and this subject will blow in our faces when this continues.


I haven’t started a discussion about refugees or politics, I explained the situation and asked for advice regarding the use of Xojo.

If you want to insult me as trouble-maker and warlord then please note that it is you doing the insulting.

Please point out where I start a discussion about the refugee crisis.

On a he contrary, I have several times stated that this is NOT a political discussion and that people should stick to the topic.

I think you have several misconceptions.

Firstly I’m not talking about the refugees at the EU borders, I’m talking about those HERE in Heidelberg. As I had already stated.

Secondly many refugees CAN do more than read and write as a large part of those refugees are from the well-off classes. Only those were able to afford the thousands of euros it cost to pay for transit. Most of the poor ones are still back in Syria.

Thirdly nearly all of the middle eastern refugees use Smartphones, even iPhones. They aren’t refugees from poverty like the ones from the Balkans (who are not recognized as needing asylum and only 0.2% are allowed to stay), they are refugees from war (which is why Germany opened its borders for syrian etc refugees). They need a way to communicate and integrate here in Heidelberg, they need access to those willing to help with that.

Thanks for another insult.

And another.

Which part of “basic needs are covered at PHV” was unclear?

I’m still not the one insulting others, on the contrary. Except for Derk and Philip not a single poster has tried to help with the problem.

I say it again. This is Germany, not the Hungarian or British border. Refugees are being taken care of. Or have you not seen the puctures and read the many reports about Munich? What is needed are ways to integrate them quickly and efficiently.

So when you tell me about blankets and food being needed, then please send me a postcard from your trip to the Hungarian border.

I’m incredible disappointed by the Xojo community. Instead of helpful advice I get … what? Lectures on what to do? By people who are where? Get insulted over and over again?

Read your posts again in the morning.

Thankfully posts on the MS Access forum for help were more successful.

P.S. If you can’t or don’t want to be part of the solution, then at least be considerate enough not to be a problem.

Thank you.

Dear Markus,

You are a very helpfull person on this forum, and for that I respect you very much.

However, like you can see now, the subject is too hot for this moment. Even our EU leaders are very divided and are disagreeing. Even in Belgium, one minister want to use the watercannon to remove the refugees out of a park, another want to help and support them as much as we can.

There is a lot of difference between your local location Heidelberg in Germany and this global community. There are a lot of different opinions here, where in your local community almost everybody points their nose in the same direction.

I agree that those refugees deserve our help, support and respect. And believe me, despite the remarks I had in my former reply, I really do respect and admire you for what you are doing in your local community. I did not want to insult you and if you feel that I insulted you, I want sincerely apologize for that.

Don’t feel disappointed with this community. The only mistake you made is putting this up at the wrong moment. Why not waited until Tuesday, when (hopefully) on monday the EU countries reach an agreement?

If you really believe that your idea work out in your local community, then I can only tell you to go for it. I am sure you are man enough to know how you can help those refugees best. Give them the best of yourself.

I can tell you, I a

I really don’t see why this needs to be on the Xojo forum. This is a very sensitive subject where a lot of people disagree.
Your reply: “This is not a political discussion thread. Please stick to the topic.” neither makes sense. Your ‘question’ was all politics.

If you’d simple asked for advise/experiences on forum software, you would have gotten the responses you need.

Chris, you may have time. The politicians may have time. They can agree or disagree as much as they want - it doesn’t change a simple fact: the refugees do not have time. They need help quickly, the sooner the better. The longer it drags out the more potential for conflicts and unrest. You can’t simply “lock” them away.

You were right in one thing: now isn’t the time to bring it up. The time to bring it up was MONTHS ago. I’m damn late to the party, and health problems can only partly be blamed for that.

There is a lot of willingness to help. There is a lot of ability among the refugees. There are artists, engineers, programmers even. The problem is the same for everyone: to get into contact with the ones who can help, be it inside or outside PHV. There are lots of small groups without contact to other groups. There is a LOT of effort being wasted because people don’t reach other people.

I need the infrastructure: server, fast internet, space. Should be no problem, SAP is just 500 m from here. EMBL might be able to help too as they have one if the biggest and fastet IT infrastructures in the World. I’m talking to them on Monday.

I need forum software and it being set up. Thank you Philip for your recommendation. Shouldn’t be a problem finding someone to set it up.

I need software for registering people, abilities, places, and a booking system. That is where I thought Xojo might be useful.

I need the city to act as a central access hub so people can find it. Work in progress but looking good.

I’m writing a detailed concept plan for the city and the government of Baden-Württemberg to get political support for those ideas (eg not just have some nice ideas, but detailed implementation; think something like a business plan).

I need translators for the forum and other software. I’m meeting with refugees on Monday to discuss this and other issues, and get their input on what else is needed. Btw the ones I have explained my ideas to were very happy with them.

I need translators. The refugees who attend the meeting on Monday will organize that.

I need to spread the word in PHV as People will need to be made aware if it. Again the refugees will do that.

I still haven’t heard back from the guys who have written the “Welcome Dresden” app which answers most questions refugees have and which we want to adapt to Heidelberg. Need to follow that up tomorrow.

I contacted the Red Cross to enable the 20-30 medics involved with us to set up a medical center to improve the situation in PHV which according to rumours is not that good. This is one of the more urgent things on my list. Hopefully the contact with those responsible fir PHV on Monday will get this moving.

Etc etc

So people thinking they can turn this into a political thread or think they can tell me what I should do: tell me what you are doing. If you aren’t willing to help or contribute then at least have the decency to be quiet.

Please accept my apology but I accidently hit the “Post a Reply” button too soon. I now using an external keyboard to continue.

In Botswana, I am very much involved with the poorest among the poorest. I can tell you, it can be a lot more worse then what you see now happening in Europe. The only difference is that the refugee crisis in Europe is now happening at your doorstep. But believe me, in Africa it gets much much worse, only you do not see that in the news.

This year the plantation of my wife (near Molopolole) got a harvest of about 40% because of the results of the climate change, caused by the industrial world (yes also Europe is responsible). Farmers have to deal with the lack of rains for 6 to 8 months. There is a constant shortage of water, which is life treatening. The farmers around our plantation their crops where burned. They had nothing. And if you know their whole family have to live for one year, until the next harvest, from their fields, you know the disaster. Believe me and I am not ashamed to tell this here, but despite they are our competition, I cried when I saw what happened to them. Really, I do not wish that to anybody.

But you know what, I felt more motivated to search for water and scan our plantation for an underground water river. The scan costed a lot of money, but now we know where we have to drill, how deep we have to drill and in return how much water we can pump up and for how many years. We have to drill a borehole of more than 200 meters deep and it will give us enough water not only for sustaining our own plantation but also the neighbouring fields from other farmers. At least for 3 other farmers we can make the difference, and probably more.

And yes, we will share the water with the neighbouring farmers. In exchange they will give us, cows, goats, services we do not have but need or other things they can miss. We will be very fair in what we ask in return believe me. They are already asking us when we start drilling, when the well will be operational.

For many people in Africa and other poor parts of the worlds, there is an every day crisis like in Europe. Do you think there is any difference for a mother seeing her child drowning in the water while escaping a war zone, or a mother seeing her child slowly diyng from starvation and sickness? Believe me there is none, they are both grieving deeply.

I also agree with Marco Hof, you should just have asked for help and advise. You knew very well when you posted, that this would receive this kind of upset reactions. On regular occasions you seem to feel the need to provocate and there is nothing wrong as long as you are willing to accept the concequences. But when somebody feels offended and react on your provocations, you start shouting out loud how unfair they are to you. Did you ever considered that you offended the other party with what you wrote?

Anyway, we live in a democracy and we have to respect your opinion and your believes. That is the beauty of freedom of speech, raising an opinion even when you know others disagree and not being punished for raising that opinion.

Again I admire your helpfull and caring personality and appreciate what you are doing for these refugees very much. If I had then knowledge and experience to help you, I would not have hesitated and help you. However I do not have the necessary knowledge and experience (regretfully). But please, next time when you ask for help, do not provocate on subjects which are too sensitive on that particular moment.

I wish you every success in your refugee project and all the best. I really do hope you succeed and help as much people you can.

With respect,


Thanks Chris, apology accepted of course.

I haven’t met refugees from Botswana but spoke to several from Gambia (or was it Ghana?) on Friday.

If you read the posts I made you’ll see that I explained the situation to make it clear that I need help and advice quickly and urgently.

If people think I insult them by mentioning that what I need help with is for refugees here in Heidelberg and I should bl@@dy well be quiet then WOW. Just WOW.

It’s a sensitive subject? Really? I should not mention the R word?

What World is this? This isn’t just political correctness gone mad, it is what is called “Duckmusertum” in Germany. The refusal to stand up and be counted when it matters.

On the other hand there seems no such inhibition when it comes to attacking my posts or myself. Can you tell me why? I have SOME ideas but I think I let you answer that.

If I’m not willing to act on my convictions, then I don’t have convictions. If I don’t act according to my beliefs, then I have no beliefs.

I’m agnostic. I don’t believe in Religion, and in my opinion no self-respecting God would touch religion with a barge-pole. Who was it who said “For me to believe in the christian God the Christians would have to be a lot more christian.”

So one political statement after all: when Hungary’s Prime Minister goes to Church tomorrow then I’m sure Jesus is very proud of him.

P.S. And now feel free to lock this thread. I no longer expect much help from here and will look for other solutions which do not involve Xojo.

Still very disappointed with the “community” here.

So I don’t because it is for refugees. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Really time to consider my future involvement …