A Chance to Lead a Self-Determined Adult Life

The Elisabethstift children’s home in Berlin-Hermsdorf is now also home to unaccompanied minors from war zones

von Ivana Leissing

Der Geschäftsfüher und Heimleiter Herr Wegner unterwegs auf dem Gelände des Elisabethstiftes. Berlin 2016; Foto: Teddy Moarbes
Managing Director Helmut Wegner walking around the area of the Elisabethstift. Berlin 2016. Photo: Teddy Moarbes

Elisabethstift foundation, nine years ago at one of their fundraising evenings. I was deeply impressed and at the same time disturbed and confused, because I had not known until then that many children in Germany are in such dire need. And yet urgently necessary funding for training and therapy in children’s homes had been cut, meaning the home relied on donations. Despite these adverse circumstances, Herr Wegner and his team have managed to set up the Elisabethstift School, to give severely traumatized children and children with major behavioural problems a chance to lead self-determined adult lives. They have expanded their children’s and young people’s aid institution with non-residential, part-residential and fully residential programmes to the present 168 places for children and young adults from 0 – 18, two day groups and a mothers-and-children group. They have also set up a family meeting place in Wittenau with targeted training courses for parents and non-residential advice and group services, two daycare facilities and the Lübars Family Farm.
Since October 2015, forty to fifty unaccompanied minor refugees have been living at the Elisabethstift. They can stay until they turn 18, provided their asylum applications are granted. Most of these children and young people come directly from war zones in Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon. They have all experienced war at first hand, spent an average of nine months getting to Berlin and arrived at the Elisabethstift with not a single possession. The team would be glad if people came to visit them, did something with them, took care of them. They need winter clothing and shoes, also board games, art supplies and books (preferably in Arabic or with translation help).
Working with unaccompanied children from war zones is an additional challenge, and I wish Herr Wegener, Sister Edith and the untiring team at the Elisabethstift the continued stamina to be there for children in need around the clock.

Elisabethstift, Berliner Straße 118, 13467 Berlin. Telefon: 030 – 405 070. E-Mail