Experiencing Equality across Borders
Start date: Aug 1, 2014,
End date: Feb 1, 2016
The EVS-project "Experiencing Equality across Borders" intended to facilitate a 12-months European Voluntary Service by a 23-year-old woman from France in a residential group for people with mental disabilities located in Berlin. The residential group is run by the Stephanus Foundation, which coordinates over 90 institutions all over Berlin and Brandenburg for people with disabilities, children and youth as well as elderly people and has successfully worked with EVS-volunteers since 2011. The residents in the Katharina-von-Bora Haus live as independently as possible, and are accompanied and supported in order for them to achieve as much equality and independence as possible in their daily lives.
The volunteer supported the work of the staff members in offering leisure time activities and assisting with the residents daily activities such as housework, cooking and grocery shopping and accompanying them on doctor´s visit, physical therapy appointments, and with appointments at the local administrative offices. The volunteer did not assist with the residents personal hygiene, as this is the task of qualified personnel. The staff particularly supported the residents in activities such as cooking, baking, gardening as well as in following creative and musical interests; the volunteer was very welcomed to suggest and organise (supported by staff) her own leisure time offers for the residents (creative, cultural, sports...). While taking part in the daily life of the residents she experienced the atmosphere of normality, of acceptance and of respecting different abilities and needs that the Stephanus-Stiftung aims at creating with their work.
The project wanted to make a contribution towards achieving more equality for people with disabilities in their everyday life while creating more awareness of cultural as well as human diversity. The volunteer herself experienced a process of informal learning, as challenges and experiences changed her perceptions, gave her a new understanding of the very diverse realities of life experiences. She also gave new impulses to the daily routines in the residential group, and simultanoeusly, by working with and getting to know a young woman with a different cultural background, the residents, staff members and many other people became more aware of the diversity of European cultures.
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