The Team at German-based Aspen Bad Oldesloe took to heart Nelson Mandela’s quote: “When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.” Three beneficiaries were selected for their Mandela Day activities including the Midnight Bus and two day care centers.
Midnight Bus – another face of the city
Whenever we talk about a social security net, we need to be aware that every net is a structure of mesh. That is true even for a country such as Germany. Fortunately, there are non-government organizations that do not turn their backs on those who need a social security net. On Mandela Day, I had an opportunity to join one of the 28 teams organized by the “Mitternachtsbus” (Midnight Bus) that looks after Hamburg’s homeless people 365 nights a year. This night, I stepped in for Klaus, who took a brief holiday. Despite it being summer, it was still a pretty cold day. I met Barbara, Kristina and Juergen at 7pm to serve a shift on the Midnight Bus. They are all employed, had spent a day in the office and needed to be out the next morning to return to work. Juergen briefed me on our role and stressed that we treat the homeless as guests. He mentioned that almost 30 locations had to be visited within 5 hours. Some of these places are fixed meeting points, others are the where the homeless lay down for a night’s rest. Equipped with hot water for instant drinks, blankets, underwear, socks and tissues, the bus headed for bakeries that donated unsold yet fresh breads, rolls and cookies. Aspen’s donation of 27kg of bananas was welcomed and sufficient food was gathered to feed 200 guests. After a busy night the team returned with leftovers which the 01:00 team was grateful for as they started to prepare for breakfast deliveries. The experience changed my view of non-government organisations such as the protestant church who manages the Midnight Bus in an effort to restore some dignity to those who have so little.
Gardening at Dornestrasse
Daniela Zarnedsky and Stefan Wächtler met the challenge of tending to the gardens at Dornestrasse Day Care Center. The children at this center watched eagerly as the weeds were removed and an oversized tree was reshaped, providing a tidy and enjoyable environment in which they can play to their heart’s content.
Raised beds for little gardeners
Earlier this year we got a cry for help from the Fahrenkrug Day Care Center near Bad Oldesloe. They needed help installing raised flower beds in their outdoor area. A strapping four-man Aspen team headed to the center equipped with sunshine in their souls and the necessary tools to help out. Sven Hansen, Marco Kellinghusen, Mario Sievers and Jarle Wolff built two raised beds with steps which will allow the children to cultivate and nourish plants. This may be considered a small effort but it meant so much to the children and staff at the facility.