Vienna is a ritzy and classic city which has seen a lot of history through the rise of the Habsburg family. It’s a city where tourists flock to due to its ornate beauty and opulence.
Magdas Hotel is a hotel in Vienna which has done something unique: it employs refugees while they await their paperwork to be cleared. The hotel crowdfunded support for the program and is now a great model of how to use the talents of refugees who have trouble finding work in their respected fields.
“This building which is now a hotel was once an old people’s home,” Martin Gantner from Caritas told Al Jazeera. It was renovated and charitable donations were used to procure furniture, he said.
“Through crowdfunding, we collected 70,000 euros [$76,000] for the hotel last year,” Gantner said. The organisation uses all the profit from the hotel to pay salaries and buy supplies.
“It is just awful and pointless that refugees remain jobless for years because they legally cannot work, even though some of them are so talented,” Gantner said.
The hotel is adjacent to Gezi Parkâ€™s Taksim Square, the site of protests last May and June. During some of the most tense moments, the Divan Hotelâ€™s management took in people protesting against the government of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, to the chagrin of officials.
Adding insult to injury, the hotel staff rebuffed police forces by asking whether they had a reservation at the hotel, according to Han Le, an American who observed the protests. Unsurprisingly, the police did not, and the staffâ€”at least temporarilyâ€”prevented them from entering and arresting protesters camping out inside. The Financial Times reports (paywall) that the decision to take in protesters was initially made by the hotelâ€™s management, but supported by the hotelâ€™s parent company.