Our Children Celebrating the Christmas spirit!
The other day it was about to turn three o’clock in the afternoon, as my phone rang. “Hello Bernd, this is Ines. I am the mother of Saskia and Melanie and I am in trouble – would you have time to visit me?”
Saskia (8) and Melanie (10) are two sisters who regularly come to one of our Arche houses. I was a little surprised by the call, given that these two appear to be cheerful and open, rather than unhappy. What could possibly threaten their situation? Ines, their young mother, sounded desperate on the phone. And so on the same evening, I stood in front of her apartment door.
A sobbing, petite woman opened the door to her dark, cold and messy apartment. “I can not turn the light on. Yesterday, the power supply was cut off”, Ines said. She began telling me about the severe obstacles life had put in her way: I learned about her dreadful childhood, being responsible for her little brothers and sisters, leaving no time for herself or a promising school career. Ines had been a child with far too much burden on its shoulders. This was also the first time Ines was able to speak about being abused as a child.
She had run away from home, had the wrong friends and boyfriends who she thought was her great love, but instead left her as she became pregnant. Melanie was born as Ines turned 18. In the time since, her children became Ines’ anchor: Melanie and Saskia should be better off than she had been. For Ines the power cut was a sign that she was not capable of creating a brighter future for her children. Especially with Advent season around the corner: On that day, she was lost.
For Ines, it was not easy to bring herself to ask for help. Hardly surprising, given that there were barely any helpful people in Ines’ life until then. I was glad she trusted me with her story. The next day, I came together with some of the Arche colleagues and we thought about ways to support her. It took only a few days to restore the power supply. Together, we renovated her apartment and equipped it with well-preserved furniture we had collected in advance. Finally, we decorated it with a Christmas tree with already some gifts underneath. Was it a bit early for a Christmas spirit? In Ines’ case, I would rather say that it was a bit late.
Ines’ and her daughters’ eyes were shining, and we were delighted about this wonderful situation. “I will pay back the electricity costs, 20 Euros every month!”, Ines promised. But that is not our point at DIE ARCHE. Our point is to be there for children and their families, to give hope. All too fast, people are condemned by others who don’t ask why they are the way they are.
Dear supporters: Our heartfelt thanks for your support. Together, we give hope and create a strong answer to child poverty and prejudgment. Every child deserves a fair chance!
We wish you a very happy Christmas season.
Bernd Siggelkow // DIE ARCHE