In Berlin alone there are currently around 2,000 homeless people who sleep outside all year round. Unimaginable, especially in the upcoming winter cold. They make most of us feel uncomfortable. We have learned to look away and move on quickly. Ines Sydow, on the other hand, takes action when it hurts to look.
“I learned from a neighbor that a homeless man lives with us on the edge of the forest in a bus stop,” Ines Sydow remembers from Berlin-Reinickendorf. “I could hardly believe that. I went straight there and spoke to him. ”She learned that Micha had been living on the street for eight years and was suffering from cancer. His social decline began after his father, mother and wife died in quick succession. Then he began to drink, first losing his job, then the apartment – and then every stop. “That can happen very quickly,” says Ines understandingly. “If you have no one left and you are weak yourself, you can’t get out of there so easily.”
Micha did not get any welfare or health insurance. So far he has lived from collecting bottles. But due to Corona there were no more events and no more tourists, so the deposit was also missing.
Be wherever the need is
After this meeting Ines went home thoughtfully. “The story of his life touched me very much and I wanted to help him,” says the 59-year-old. On the following days she brought Micha warm drinks and food and talked to him. The conversation at eye level was obviously good for him. Otherwise he only knew rejection and contempt. Gradually his reluctance gave way and the 61-year-old thawed.
“Had an ancient bike to collect bottles and use the deposit to buy food – and unfortunately alcohol too. He only drinks beer, no hard things and, according to his own account, does not consume drugs, ”Ines learned. “Unfortunately, the homeless all drink, which gives them a deceptive feeling of warmth. But it also means forgetting and switching off. Very few can be saved. My main concern is that the terminally ill Micha has a more humane existence. ”
She could do little alone, Ines knew that. So she turned to the neighborhood platform next door.de with the following appeal: “Here in Heiligensee, a homeless person lives in the forest at a bus stop. He is very kind and has lived on the streets for over seven years. Who can donate warm clothing, who can give away food? If you want to do him something good, just drop by and exchange a few nice words with him, he misses that. ”
At Nebenan.de you can network locally with your neighbors, meet up, exchange ideas, share things and, above all, help each other. Helpfulness is very important here – not only during the Corona crisis. At the moment especially risk groups are supported. The response to Ines’ appeal was overwhelming. The most necessary things came together quickly. Many neighbors brought clothes, towels and groceries right past the bus stop.
Micha was very touched and very grateful. After a while, Ines found out about his heart’s desire: a small radio to finally listen to music and news again. “A camping radio with a hand crank would be great,” Ines wrote on Nebenan.de, “because batteries cost money, and Micha doesn’t have that.” Ines’ neighbor Joachim got such a radio and made the homeless Berliner overjoyed. “It’s amazing how little you can make people happy,” says the mother of an adult son.
Pallet instead of plate
But that didn’t stop her commitment to Micha. Together with restaurateur Norbert Raeder, Ines organized a “Little Home” for her protégé. The “Little Home” association collects donations and uses them to build mobile wooden huts – inside a place to sleep and a camping toilet – and create something that many people lack on the street: a bit of privacy and the ability to stow and lock your own things. The “Little Homes” are being built on private land and given away to the homeless. The initiator Sven Lüdecke from Cologne is now represented with his mini-houses in 16 German cities.
“This gives homeless people a permanent address and can apply for social assistance,” explains Ines, who works in the café of a retirement home. Ines and Norbert are supported by many neighbors from Berlin-Heiligensee. They all collect donations and built a wooden house for Micha out of four Euro pallets, wheels and chipboard and lovingly furnished it. Ines: “Micha is very emaciated and will probably not be with us for very long. My only consolation is that he doesn’t have to perish like an animal in the forest, but that he at least has his little house. ”
Help with a brilliant idea, wood and hammer
She howled at the handover ceremony. “I felt real shivers running down my body with emotion,” she recalls. “It gives you an incredible amount when you realize that you can help someone. It’s madness, what you feel about it yourself. ”At first Micha was completely taken aback and speechless for minutes. Surprise succeeded!
A “little home” serves as a stepping stone into one’s own apartment and back into society. It is always moving to see when people accept their little house and thus get a piece of dignity and normality back, reports initiator Sven Lüdecke. What looks like a simple wooden cart to some is the greatest luxury in life for others. Micha has seldom experienced so much charity.
“This involves things that we don’t even think about. When handing over the keys, for example, Micha said: ‘Finally I can undress to sleep!’ ”Ines explains. “It must be incredibly exhausting to spend the whole night half asleep because you have to reckon with everything all the time. Unfortunately, there were two more incidents recently in Berlin: A homeless man was set on fire while he was sleeping on the park bench and young people set fire under a Little Home and thus destroyed the entire existence of a poor person who had almost nothing anyway. It’s awful! ”To be on the safe side, all mini-houses have a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher.
Ines Sydow asks for clothing and material donations such as sleeping bags and sleeping mats for the homeless. “Either you give them directly to someone sitting in the cold, or you take them to the official collection points. Many are looking forward to a nice word and a cup of coffee these days. ”