Sylvaina Gerlich on the Hamburg Integration Advisory Board for Africa

Sylvaina Gerlich

Sylvaina Gerlich has been the first elected member of the Hamburg Integration Advisory Board for the continent of Africa since 2008 and is a board member of IMIC e.V (Intercultural Migrant Integration Center e.V).  Born in Ghana, she grew up in London, lives in Hamburg and has been involved in charity projects and aid transports since 1992, including for hospitals, kindergartens and schools in Africa.

With the non-profit IMIC e.V, founded on her initiative, Sylvaina Gerlich and her volunteer team help migrants with daily social and administrative problems, look after legal and illegal people in need of help, especially from African but also other communities, organize tutoring, language and intercultural courses and Youth, parent and senior work.She has been organizing the “Neighborhood Connects” event since 2011, is the organizer of the annual “African Day”, which was first organized by IMIC in 2012, and has been co-organizer of the “Miss African Culture” event since 2013 and is involved in other social and cultural activities in Hamburg. The vision of their integration work is to create more understanding for each other and unity as well as to bring acceptance for the diversity of African culture and its peoples into German society. Sylvaina Gerlich has been honored several times for her work, including in 2011 during a reception with Federal President Christian Wulff at Bellevue Palace and most recently in 2013 by the “Parents on Site” initiative.

Sylvaina Gerlich
Sylvaina Gerlich

The Integration Advisory Board serves as a vital voice for immigrants in Hamburg, offering expert advice and promoting inclusive policies. Established under the leadership of Senator Dr. Melanie Leonhard (Authority for Labor, Social Affairs, Family and Integration) and Petra Lotzkat (Office for Labor and Integration), the board builds upon the foundation laid by previous senators and continues the work initiated by Birgit Schnieber-Jastram. The advisory board plays a key role in shaping Hamburg’s integration strategy. They actively participated in developing the Senate’s new integration concept and remain involved in its implementation. Their expertise extends beyond policy development, as they also address current issues related to integration and advocate for immigrants’ perspectives.

The board goes beyond advisory functions, acting as a powerful “integration multiplier.” Members leverage their diverse backgrounds and experiences to actively promote inclusion across all sectors of society. They even have the authority to suggest qualified individuals with migrant backgrounds for positions within Hamburg’s administration committees.

To enhance efficiency, the board’s size was reduced from 52 to 31 members compared to the previous legislative period. This streamlined structure allows for more focused discussions and effective action. Furthermore, the current board reflects a shift in composition, now consisting solely of members with migrant backgrounds. This ensures a direct line of communication for immigrant communities and strengthens their representation within the board.

In essence, the Integration Advisory Board serves as a bridge between immigrant communities and Hamburg’s governing bodies, fostering a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all.