Experiencing Stormini and serving the homeless in Hamburg
Our team from Aspen Bad Oldesloe has supported the Mitternachtsbus since 2017. This year was no different and we also partnered with Kreisjugendring Stormarn e.V. in support of the activities that they host at Stormini.
Kreisjugendring Stormarn represents the interests of over 177 member organizations which has more than 36 000 children and young people. The main activities of the youth associations include youth education, leisure and recreation initiatives. The work of the youth associations in Stormarn is carried out by the more than 1,200 voluntary youth group leaders.
Our first Mandela Day project took place on 7 and 8 July 2022 when 280 children pitched their tents on the grounds of Hoisbüttel Elementary School and joined the activities presented at the children’s city of Stormini.
The students had control over Stormini for seven days. During that time, they were expected to make decisions in parliament, go to work every morning, and enjoy free time to experience the importance of a balanced lifestyle. An essential component of the Kinderstadt concept is the cycle of work simulation, financial transactions and participation in the leisure sector. The children make themselves available to the city's internal labor market and perform a job of their own choosing in two daily work units.
We chose to give the children an opportunity to experience the vocation of a pharmacist. Our pharmacist apprentices Sina Ott, Laura Dettmann and Felix Schoettler were warmly welcomed by the students and they set out some specific activities for them. Vitamin bombs were created out of chocolate, creams were made with a tube filler, and lip balms were produced.
Our participation over the two days was enlightening and we will definitely support this event again given the interest shown by the children.
Around 2 000 homeless people sleep on the streets of Hamburg, even in the freezing winter, and the Mitternachtsbus (“Midnight Bus”) has been a beacon of hope to them since 1996.
The Midnight Bus would be unthinkable without some 140 volunteers who are dedicated to this cause, which functions 365 nights a year. This service provides nourishment and meets the immediate needs of up to than 200 people each evening. They are offered hot drinks, bread, warm blankets, and clothes, but above all, they receive kindness and compassion. These volunteers believe that nobody is allowed to freeze to death on the streets of Hamburg.
On 25 July 2022, our Human Resources Manager, Susanne Blaue, joined the Midnight Bus to experience the work that they do. The Bus first visited selected bakeries to collect donated bread, rolls and cakes, which were not sold during the day. Unfortunately, these donations are not as plentiful as they used to be, as one-day-old baked goods are now being sold to customers at a reduced price. Each evening the team anxiously hopes to collect enough food to distribute to the expectant city dwellers, but they do their best and share the supplies received. This concern was minimized slightly thanks to the generous donations of boxes of fresh fruit contributed by our team.
The Midnight Bus began feeding the homeless at 20:00 and by midnight all the supplies had been distributed across the city. The Bus then returned to the depot to be cleaned and prepared for service for the next evening.
Volunteers are the lifeline of the project, and they range in age from their early 20s to mid-70s. Their diverse professional backgrounds range from being self-employed, to business people, engineers, bank employees, teachers, pastors, doctors, nurses, graphic designers, police officers, housewives, students and pensioners.
Gisela S. (69), “I see the homeless differently now and we greet one another in a friendly manner when we see each other in town."
Volunteer Helmut D., (70) "Giving is better than receiving."
Guido D. (42), "For me, the perspective on wealth and the really important things in life has changed."
"I've gained a better understanding that not everything should be taken for granted," Bianca P, (39)