So, here I am again, sitting behind a huge pile of paper sent to me from different German organisations applying for funding from Childhood. Right now is the most stressful and demanding time of the year – but at the same time the most exciting and positive!
Childhood accepts project proposals two times a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn. We know most of the organisations who apply; often we deal with follow-up applications as we prefer to stay with our project partners over a longer time. But every call for applications contains something new and something unexpected, and new meetings with fire souls and children from great projects.
And this is of course the best thing about our work – behind all the papers arriving in my office, I have to go out to meet and see all the projects in reality. A couple of weeks ago, one of our project partners here in Berlin – the Mother-Child-House Jörg Sommerlath – invited me to join them on a trip. In this home, teenage mothers who are not able to care for their children on their own, live together with their children. It is not easy to be a teenage mother, to take care of a little baby and at the same time try to finish school. And it is not easy becoming a father if you have no place to live, no job and debts. When asking the girls, what kind of support they wish for in their everyday life, their answer is often “What I want is a family that works; I want more support from my partner in raising my child”.
So, in 2010 the project “Fathers and partners take on responsibility” started with support from Childhood and the objective is to support the fathers to manage their lives and stabilize their situation, so that they in a next step can bond with their children and take on more responsibility for them. One way to do this is to go on a trip for a week, just the fathers and their children: to spend time together, to explore life together with a child and learn from each other. As it was a trip for fathers and their children, I was the only mother. I brought my son, so I wouldn’t stick out too much! We had a fantastic time and it was very motivating to see the fathers and their kids together and to hear them talk about the project as something really important for them.
It is very uncommon for a Mother-Child-House to work with fathers, and that was exactly what Childhood liked about this project. It’s innovative and it is trying out new methods. After trying out the concept for almost three years now, it is soon time to share the gained knowledge and insight. For next year, the project is planning a symposium. To the symposium, the organisation will invite professionals working in their area to share experiences from the project.
I will be happy to tell you more about the results next spring – now I’ll have to get back to my pile of paper!