Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)

by Die Arche Kinderstiftung Christliches Kinder- und Jugendwerk
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)
Die Arche - Gottingen (Lower Saxony)

Towards the end of the year, even more kids than usual are visiting our Ark centers. December for most families is a time of gifts, Christmas parties, and festive traditions. But for our children, it is not only a time of pleasant anticipation and exciting gifts. But one in which little financial and other resources or lack of attention at home are more noticeable than usual. Therefore it is even more important for the children to have a safe place like the Ark.

Up and down the country, preparations for Christmas are in full swing at our locations. Cookies are baked, gingerbread houses are built, Advent wreaths are made and, Christmas parties are planned. Fortunately, the situation is not comparable to last year. But although there won’t be a lockdown again, the corona pandemic still casts a shadow over Christmas 2021. It remains hard to plan events and, certain precautions are still essential.

But all our Christmas parties for the kids and their families will take place. A few of our ark centers will have outdoor Christmas markets with yummy food, a bonfire, and a small stage with creative performances organized by the children. Besides the Christmas parties, many other activities are planned. A carriage ride, cinema afternoons, singing Christmas carols, and ice skating will be some of our planned activities.

A huge highlight was St. Nicholas Day on the 6th of December. On that day, we visited all our kids at home and gave out St. Nicholas gifts to each child in every Ark city. It was a wonderful day!

Thank you so much for your gracious and continuous support!

We wish you and your family Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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The summer vacation is over and school has started again. "In our class, it's terribly noisy, no one can concentrate, and the teacher can hardly get a word in," tells us Pascal, a 12-year-old boy. One and a half years without regular classes lay behind our Arche-kids. A time marked by lockdowns, school closures, and homeschooling that didn’t work very well for most of our children and teens. Many of the children are overweight because they spent their time in isolation in front of the television rather than on the sports field, which was closed. I notice concentration difficulties, an increased potential for aggression, resignation, and fear of the future.

Appearances are deceptive when you see the smiling children at the Arche. Of course, they feel at home at the Arche and are happy to finally be back in their second home, being able to meet staff and friends again. But something about our children is different. It is striking how much they have been affected by the last few months. They are aware that they have been left behind. Because they often lacked electronic devices for homeschooling, their internet connection was too slow, or their parents couldn't support them enough. Some kids were doing better academically in early 2020 than they are doing now. Many second and third graders spent more time at home than in school.

A regular daily learning routine was the exception. Most children lacked the necessary structure. Now, sitting and concentrating in school again for six hours every day seems impossible for many children. Even though we are - hopefully - slowly returning to the normality of everyday life at the Arche, it feels like a new era. We have learned new lessons, become more digital, and have visited more families at home. We have become aware of additional needs and challenges and have created new projects to support our children even more individually. Meanwhile, we even use trained dogs in families for better harmony and to compensate for deficits in the children. I am glad that we have managed over all these years to always keep our finger on the pulse and not lose faith and hope.

With all the challenges our children face, they need a lot of love and understanding right now. We can only do that with people who are there for them. With employees and volunteers who listen, look, encourage and support. People who take the time to convey faith, hope, and love. After 26 years of fighting child poverty and exclusion, we face a new stage. We must help heal, connect and nurture. During lockdown and isolation, we have visited children at home, brought them food, and provided digital devices so we could stay in touch and help them learn virtually. With great success: everyone who was about to graduate from high school did so.

But now, we must succeed in ensuring that they do not miss the boat. It is a big challenge because our children have changed. We have to bring many of them out of their despair. But I am confident that we will succeed. Because we have you, our partners, supporters, and friends, to whom I am grateful from the bottom of my heart that you have not lost faith in our children. Let‘s continue to reach out to the children and teens so that their childhood turns into a beautiful and encouraging experience.

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Despite the ongoing restrictions, the summer vacation will be a welcome change from everyday life for the children of the Arche.

The summer vacation is probably the most beautiful time of the year for our children at the Arche. Good weather, no homework to do, and the pool in the backyard inviting them to splash around.

Although the big summer camp had to be canceled due to Covid once again, the children are already looking forward to the minicamps at the Arche Ranch. Camping, riding, swimming in the lake, taking care of the farm animals and lots of other fun activities make the time at the ranch an unforgettable experience for each one of them.

In addition to that, every day there will be a colorful program in small groups, exciting challenges, record hunts, and even Olympic Arche Games will take place. Apart from the wide range of daily activities, we will also take trips to different places in Berlin and to the surrounding suburbs. Trips to adventure pools, Karl’s strawberry farm, the zoo, or the trampoline park will most certainly provide lots of fun and entertainment for the children.

In addition to the trips, there will also be a vacation school where diligent children will get the chance to consolidate what they have learned in the past school year. The repetition helps the children to feel prepared and ready for the new school year. 

Our youngest, the kindergarten kids will also have a summer filled with field trips, sleepovers, and lots of fun activities. A highlight will be a small camp for our ten kindergarten kids who will be first graders after the summer vacation. Besides the camp, they can look forward to trips to Karl’s strawberry farm, a dinosaur park, and beach water games. The big finale for the soon-to-be first-graders and their parents will be the “Zuckertütenfest”. The kids are already busy rehearsing their performances for the feast and dreaming of the school cones full of sweet surprises.

There are also two more trips planned with the kindergarten kids. In August they will stay for three days at the Arche Ranch. For many of the children, it will be their first time away from home. At the Arche Ranch, they will get to know different animals and learn to take care of them in a responsible way. It will be a beautiful experience and the children are already very excited.

In September, the second group will travel to the Baltic Sea. They can already hardly wait to finally get to the white sandy beaches and explore every corner of the local indoor playground.

The last school year was again no ordinary one and this is even more true for the Arche. Even the summer vacation will again be different, then it was before the pandemic. We still must be very flexible, and we got a plan B ready for all the planned trips and activities. However, our goal is the same as every year: We will do everything to ensure that our children have a summer full of fun, variety, great experiences, joy – and time to recharge their batteries for the new school year.

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The spotlights are on, the screen on which the children will later be seen is adjusted for the last time, and the wig fits as well. We are ready for the Arche Carnival Party 2021.

My colleague Dorina and I are ready on our party stage. The room is empty, but the digital room "Zoom" is gradually filling up with children. Many of them have dressed up, some appear just as they are. A teacher, two clowns, a princess, an astronaut, a Red Indian and a few other colorfully dressed kids appear on the screen facing us.

And then, finally, it is showtime! There is dancing, singing and laughter. The children battle and throw streamers and confetti from the carnival bags they picked up at the Ark earlier. In the kid’s rooms they try to built the highest towers with different objects and everyone is allowed to pantomime a carnival figure. Their faces are filled with pure enthusiasm. They are fully committed and give their best. The "Ark Party Spirit" that we usually experience in the real children's party room is full on. Difference being that they have to keep a distance. At the end of the party, the doughnuts from the carnival bag can finally be eaten.

The online carnival party is no different from our normal live party, except for the atmosphere. This is more noticeable live than on screen. But since this is the only possibility to see one other at all, we will do it this way.

A year ago, we would never have thought that our Ark program would be completely digital. Nor did we think that parents would write to us after an online activitiy, expressing their gratitude and sending photos.

In addition to digital homework support and tutoring, the rest of our entire Ark program takes place as usual - but most of it is online. During the course of the week, the children pick up different program bags that contain the things they need. Therefore it is possible to carry out handicrafts, the cooking project, the "girls and boys only" program, but also other activities, such as the kid‘s party or a "real" carnival party. For the past year, our motto has been: "There's no such thing as we can't". We are always looking for and finding creative solutions that not only inspire us, but above all our children.

In addition to the digital program, some children and young people are also allowed to come to the Ark. Some of them use our facilities from 8 a.m. to do their homeschooling in peace and with a solid internet connection. Others do their homework with us, study for upcoming final exams, or are happy to simply have someone listening to them.

We can also offer children, who live under very cramped conditions, the opportunity to play at the Ark a couple for hour. There is also a "walk and talk", where a child can go for a walk with a member of staff, fool around on the playground or explore the nearby forest with siblings.

But the fact that the children and parents are so enthusiastic about our online offer is currently the greatest gift for us.

Dear readers, we again want to thank you for your great support for our work. We are so thankful for being able to support so many kids.

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For us at „Die Arche”, 2020 certainly is a very special year: We celebrate the 25th anniversary of our work. A quarter of a century in the fight against child poverty and for children. 25 years of investment in people who were not quite born on the bright side of life. For sure, it is a long time in which we were able to convey perspectives, hope, self-esteem and love to thousands of children and young people, fill empty stomachs and provide school support. Besides that, we also gave those children a voice who did not have one of our houses in their neighbourhood, as we made the topic clear to the public.

Of course, we want to use this landmark to look ahead as well: We are committed to keep being there and continue to work for disadvantaged children with all our heart and to offer them a contact point where we can meet them directly and immediately in their everyday life.

This year the Corona crisis has pushed many families and also the staff of the Arche to their limits. Restrictions in social life in times of Corona hit children especially hard. And the support we provide, the help we offer, is still needed.

During the lockdown, the virtual Arche was created and offered many families support with schoolwork via computer and video chat, online programs for the children, virtual bedtime stories and online parents' breakfast. At the same time, our employees made home visits to the families to bring them food, toys and educational material.

At the moment everything is difficult to plan, because depending on the location of the Arche and the current situation there, the Arches may be allowed to open for a limited number of children. However, this already means more work, because in addition to the reduced offer of activities on site, we organize many small camps and excursions and at the same time want to be with those who have to stay at home. This is an enormous double workload, but the Arche is and remains a lifeboat for hundreds of families.

The restrictions are also evident during the Christmas season. The usual Christmas program with big celebrations and Christmas markets cannot take place this year. But Christmas remains the most important holiday of the year for us. Almost all Arches are currently planning several small Christmas parties. At least the children should be able to celebrate a little community with a nice Christmas dinner and a colourful program. No child should be without a present at Christmas. Gifts play an extremely important role and are eagerly awaited by the children. Especially in families who do not have a budget for this, the annual gifts fill a large gap. Christmas should remain what it always was in the Arche - the most beautiful time of the year.

The first pre-Christmas highlight in Germany is St. Nicholas Day. Then the teams in the Arches are very busy as each Arche child will receive a parcel.

Your support helped us a lot. It contributes significantly to the fact that we continue to offer a free lunch every day in our houses, support the children with their homework, offer them sensible leisure activities and help them to cope with all the big and small problems of everyday life.

Dear readers, we again want to thank you for your great support for our work. We are so thankful for being able to support children for nothing less than 25 years. We are convinced that our work is as important as ever. We would be glad if “Die Arche” remains close to your heart in the future!

Bernd Siggelkow

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Project Leader:
David Täubert
Germany, Germany
$1,651 raised of $3,000 goal
 
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