On their visit to Germany, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall heard from refugee women who have overcome extraordinary hardship to rebuild their lives.

They listened to women who, with grit and determination in the face of adversity, are determined to create a brighter future.

Women like Marziyeh.

Marziyeh talks to The Duchess of Cornwall about her life in Germany since fleeing Iran, she's found work through an IRC programme.
Photo: Ivana Ross-Brookbank/British Embassy Berlin

Marziyeh has a flare for languages, easily slipping out of her native Persian into English, German and Russian. It’s a skill she’s been honing since she was young. “Languages are my passion,” she tells us, her smile broadening.

Growing up in Iran, Marziyeh felt trapped. “Life in Iran is very difficult for women, they have basically no rights,” she says. “I wanted to go to a place where I could make decisions about my own life.”

Marziyeh poured herself into learning languages, hoping one day she’d be able to escape the oppressive situation in Iran. Completing a degree in Russian, she later became an interpreter.

Four years ago, she was able to make her dream a reality: filled with adrenaline, she boarded a flight to Berlin. She was 25-years-old and on her own – but she knew that freedom was on the other side.  

Once she arrived, Marziyeh started getting to grips with the German language immediately, picking it up quickly. And it was whilst she was in a German class that she learnt about the jobs4refugees’ and International Rescue Committee’s course helping refugee women into work.

The IRC collaborates with jobs4refugees to provide women who have fled violence and persecution with the skills they need to find jobs in Germany. Marziyeh was given support in writing applications and tips for doing well in interviews.

Women taking part in the programme receive individual counselling to be able to achieve their goals. They’re also given practical information on understanding the German job-market and the skills to navigate the legal aspects of entering the workplace.

The team helped Marziyeh apply for an internship with The Greens, a political party in Germany. That internship led to a part-time position. Now Marziyeh has plans to do more training to become an office administrator.

"I think the workshops give the women hope above all,” she tells us. “Women can share their experiences and learn the language together. We motivate and inspire each other. Many women coming to the course have left countries with societies that are very different to Germany’s. They’ve left very patriarchal societies where women often stay at home and take care of the children. In the course, they see that so much more is possible."

Today, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall came to see our workshops  in action. They spoke to Marziyeh and other women who had taken part in the course to understand the challenges and opportunities they were facing since moving to Germany.  

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were given the chance to speak to women about their new lives in Germany and how the programme is helping them to become independent.
Photo: Ivana Ross-Brookbank/British Embassy Berlin

"The visit of Prince Charles and the Duchess was a great surprise for me! I know them both only from television and the news, and I was very excited before the workshop session today. They were so nice and laughed a lot. I really enjoyed the visit."

Marziyeh’s now been granted asylum and residency in Germany, where she lives in her apartment in Berlin. “I left to find independence. In Germany, I am free.”

Find out more

Learn more about our work in Germany.