Sommer-Camp wohnungsloser und armer Menschen 2011
Aktuelle Meldung: Am 07. Dezember 2010 kam telefonisch die Nachricht, dass das nicht gehen würde auf dem Gelände von Klein Wall. Begründung: Die Pfefferwerk Stadtkulturgesellschaft würde das Objekt nicht mehr nutzen und es wäre nicht sagbar, was im Sommer auf dem Gelände passieren würde. Egal. Dann eben nicht dort. Weiter suchen. Stefan
Vorangestellte Befindlichkeitsklausel. Für nachfolgenden Text zeichnet allein der unten genannte Verfasser verantwortlich, niemand sonst.
Für einen Zeitraum von 5 Tagen (Mittwoch bis Sonntag) im Juni 2011 soll es ein in Klein Wall bei Grünheide (Mark) bei Berlin ein Sommercamp armer und wohnungsloser Menschen / European Homeless Summer Camp geben. Eine entsprechende Anfrage eine Nutzung der Freizeit- und Bildungsstätte von Klein Wall - für das gesamte Gelände einschließlich Haupthaus - mit dieser Idee wurde zeitgleich bei der Pfefferwerk - Stadtkultur gGmbH gestellt in Verbindung mit der Bitte, dies zu ermöglichen.
Als Termine würden in Frage kommen:
01. - 05. Juni 2011
08. - 12. oder 13. Juni 2011 (Pfingstmontag)
15. - 19. Juni 2011 (oder
22. - 26. Juni 2011.)
3. Hintergrund & Kontext
Die Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Wohnungslosenhilfe hatte für den 04. August 2010 recht kurzfristig zu einem Fachtag Partizipation eingeladen und dabei vorwiegend Betroffene angesprochen. Dieser mit 70-80 Menschen vergleichsweise gut besuchte Fachtag stand im Zusammenhang des Europäischen Jahres gegen Armut und Soziale Ausgrenzung und ist wohl auch als Versuch zu verstehen, das Thema Betroffenenbeteiligung und Selbstorganisation in der Wohnungslosenhilfe voran zu bringen. Schnell wurde klar, dass ein Tag nicht annähernd ausreicht, um dieses Thema hinreichend zu besprechen und dass die Debatte dringend fortgeführt werden muss.
Die von dem Geschäftsführer der BAG Wohnungslosenhilfe e.V. vorgetragene Idee, im Jahr 2011 eine weitere 2 tägige Fachtagung etwa in einer Ev. Akademie durchzuführen, ist zwar ein Schritt in die richtige Richtung, wurde aber schnell als top-down-Strategie kritisiert und ist zudem recht hochschwellig. Dem steht die Idee gegenüber, ein offenes, auf mehrere Tage angelegtes Sommercamp wohnungsloser und armer Menschen durchzuführen und sich dabei auf die vorhandenen Selbsthillfestrukturen zu beziehen. Parallel findet auf Europäischer Ebene im Rahmen der European Consensus Conference on Homelessness ein internationaler Dialog statt, der stark auf die Integration von Betroffenen setzt. Wenn es gelänge, auf der am 09. und 10. Dezember 2011 ein Sommer-Camp für 2011 mit konkreten Termin und Ort anzukündigen, wäre hinreichend Zeit und Gelegenheit, auch Organisationen und Gruppen wohnungsloser Menschen auf europäischer Ebene anzusprechen und dem Treffen auch eine internationale Ausrichtung zu geben, was insbesondere angesichts der Migrationsbewegungen in Europa und den damit verbundenen Konfliktsituationen von besonderer Bedeutung wäre, wenn hier ein Dialog zu Stande käme.
Veranstalter wären die Bundes- bzw. Landesbetroffeneninitiative wohnungsloser Menschen, Offenburg (Ansprechpartner: Roland Saurer); das Netzwerk Berber-Info, Sulingen (Ansprechpartner: Jürgen Schneider), die Initiative Bauen Wohnen Arbeiten, Köln (Ansprechpartnerin: Brigitte Hartung), sowie die Plattengruppe Köpenick, Berlin (Ansprechpartner: Jürgen Putze) sowie das Europainstitut für Sozialwissenschaften und Partizipation, Berlin (Ansprechpartner: Dr. Stefan Schneider). Die Akteure stehen - zum Teil über Jahre hinweg - in engem Kontakt zueinander.
Die Idee wäre, Freizeit, Kultur, Kennenlernen, Austausch, Diskussion, Strategie und Politik miteinander in Verbindung zu bringen. Klein Wall hätte den Vorteil dass es möglich wäre, bundes- und europaweit einzuladen und viele Menschen anzusprechen, auch Gruppen, die im weiteren Sinne zum Thema Armut und Wohnungslosigkeit arbeiten. Auch sollen die Akteure angesprochen werden, die In professionellen Strukturen der Wohnungslosenhilfe aktiv sind, um an den Diskussionen teil zu nehmen. Klein Wall bietet den Vorteil, ein solches Treffen in einem großeren Rahmen zu denken. Klein Wall bietet genug Platz für verschiedenste Aktivitäten und auch genug Raum, um sich bei Konflikten aus dem Weg zu gehen. Die Unterbringung ist niedrigschwellig und auch für Menschen geeignet, die nicht gewohnt sind, sich in Hotels oder Tagungshäusern zu bewegen.
Es ist angedacht, dass Treffen dieser Art im Jahr 2012 und in den Folgejahren im europäischen Raum fortgesetzt werden sollen.
Das Veranstalternetzwerk hat durchweg Erfahrungen mit vergleichbaren Veranstaltungen, auch ist damit zu rechnen, dass die überwiegende Zahl von Teilnehmer_innen organisiert als Gruppe anreisen und verpflichtet werden können, Teilaufgaben zur Durchführung der Veranstaltung zu übernehmen (Aufbau, Essen, Abwasch, Sauberkeit, Mülltrennung, Aufräumen, Technik, Abbau usw.) werden.
Geld sollte das möglichst nicht kosten. Aber wir halten den Abschluss einer Veranstaltungsversicherung für sehr wichtig.
Auch sollte sich das Medienzentrum eingeladen führen, ein WLAN einzurichten und die Akteure beim Bloggen, Podacasten und Streamen der Veranstaltung in Echtzeit zu unterstützen.
7. (Entwurf für einen) Zeitplan
- Mittwoch. Nachmittags. Eintreffen, Arbeitsverteilung, Organisatorisches, Kennenlernen, Party
- Donnerstag. Vormittags: Plenum zum Kennen lernen, zur Klärung thematischer und organisatorischer Anliegen. Nachmittags: Arbeitsgruppen: Erfahrungsaustausch. Kultur und Freizeit
- Freitag: Arbeitsgruppen: Diskussionen, Thematische Schwerpunkte, Formulieren von Postionen und Vorhaben. Kultur und Freizeit
- Samstag: Vormittags: Fortsetzung der Diskussion, Absprachen. Erarbeitung einer gemeinsamen Presse- bzw. Abschlusserklärung. Nachmittag: Abschlussplenum: Abschlusserklärung, weitere Verabredungen. Abends: Fest & Party
- Sonntag: Vormittags: Letzte Verabredungen des Veranstalternetzwerks, Aufräumen, Sauber machen, Mittags: Abreisen
8. Finanzierung / Finanzbedarf
3.000 € Zuschuss für Essen & Trinken
1.000 € Bühne,
1.000 € Veranstaltungstechnik,
1.000 € Honorare Musiker, Kultur, Freizeit, Sport
2.000 € Mobilsierung, Medien, Presse, Kommunikationstechnik
3.600 € Organisation
11.600 € Summe Finanzbedarf
Finanzierung ist nach Klärung von Ort und Zeit vorrangig zu klären
b) Symbolischer Teilnehmerbeitrag
c) möglichst kostengünstige oder kostenfreie Überlassung des Geländes
d) Spenden & Sponsoren
e) Förderung durch / BAG-WH, Einrichtungen der Wohnungslosenhilfe, EU, Stiftungen, Einzelpersonen usw.)
Ich bitte hiermit - gerade wegen der von mir skizzierten politischen Bedeutung eines solchen Treffens - um eine solidarisch-wohlwollende Unterstützung des hier vorgetragenen Anliegens.
Dr. Stefan Schneider
Associations and Projects Helping the Homeless in Germany
A selection of commented links mostly from the Berlin area
There are two reasons why most of the assistance described comes from Berlin. Firstly, Berlin is the capital of Germany, with over 7,000 people "registered" as homeless and another 3,000 estimated unreported cases at least, it is also the homeless capital of Germany. Secondly, it was important for the author, Stefan Schneider, to present projects and organisations that he was personally acquainted with.
The term "homeless" is used throughout this article in the sense of the definition of the German Association of Cities from 1987. According to this definition, someone is homeless when they do not have their own living quarters assured by a tenancy agreement. So "homeless" is a broader term than "rough sleepers", which refers only to people living right on the street. "Sleeping rough" is still a widespread term, but at the same time it must be emphasised that a many organisations providing assistance are being increasingly used by those without secure accommodation (the ‘hidden homeless’), the unemployed, the poor and other groups in some way socially excluded and disadvantaged.
self – help project promoted by poor homeless people: mob e.V./ strassen|feger.
Berlin/ Barcelona 2004
(0) starting-point of our work
(1) mob e.V. - aims and offers
(2) strassen|feger - street paper
(3) kaffee bankrott - meeting point
(4) not|übernachtung - shelter
(5) oderberger straße 12 – self helping building project and apartment house
(6) trödel|point "junkpoint" & möbel|point "furniturepoint" - second-hand shops
(7) edv - department of information and technology
(8) funding and supports
(9) living on the street , instead a foreword
The reason for establishing our association was, and is still there: The continuous poverty of significant parts of the population - which is shown in its most hard form by homeless people.
The problem of urgent housing shortage is further engraving, despite asseverations from the housing industry and from some political parties. The current status in Berlin is approximately 7.000 - 10,000 persons without a safe domicile. They live in official halls of residence, in emergency accommodations, shelters, unsecured housing conditions or are living in the streets. Once again, since 2004, the number of homeless people in Berlin rises.
In order to support these people in the aspect of keeping a worthy life and with the development of the person's own perspectives, has mob e.V. – “make homeless people mobile” e.V. (situated in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin) different specific projects that are described on the following pages. All these projects pursue the goal of “self-help” and encourage own responsibility. The participating people have the possibility to run their own projects through the association, and even to create their own new home.
“The goal of the association is to improve the living conditions of socially disadvantaged and excluded persons, in particular of homeless people or persons threatened by homelessness. The organisation should make it possible for these persons to work in areas that are in their own interests and of meaning to them, and by doing so developing and improving living conditions for them." (from § 2 of the mob e.V. charter)
In the last few years we have developed, in the spirit of the above-mentioned statement, different projects and models of work within the network of the organisation. These are:
1. The homeless street paper "strassen|feger"
The street paper “strassen|feger” is sold by the homeless and the needy, and is an important economic source for the poor and homeless. This well-arranged and minimally regulated activity strengthens the vendors' sense of personal responsibility and confidence, and also gives them a chance to improve their financial situation.
2. "Kaffee Bankrott –meeting point"
Kaffee Bankrott (“café bankruptcy”) is open 7 days a week between 8pm – 8am and is, for many, a natural meeting point. Several different meals are offered daily, as well as free Internet, newspapers, games and general social and legal advice. more..
3. The emergency shelter
The emergency overnight accommodation "Notübernachtung" is open 7 days a week, all year round. With separate sleeping apartments for men and women, the shelter offers the chance for a hot shower, and the guests are able to wash their laundry. Dogs are allowed.
4. Oderberger Straße 12
The self-help house, „Selbsthilfehaus” located on Oderberger Straße 12, also in Prenzlauer Berg, offers 18 fixed-priced apartments between 40 - 90m2, as well as housing two project offices (bookkeeping and our second-hand shop). This project makes it possible for homeless and poor people to create new housing for which they are personally responsible, and by giving the homeless sustainable and affordable living conditions contributes substantially to the fight against homelessness.
The secondhand shops, Trödel|point at Prenzlauer Allee 87, and Möbel|point at Fröbelstraße 17, offer, besides all kinds of second hand things (except clothes), first aid furniture-help for homeless people who have just received an apartment.
6. www.strassenfeger.org and department of technology
The website www.strassenfeger.org is for communication with interested members of the public and for making the work of the association available to a wider audience.
The EDV-department is responsible for all technology and computer education in mob e.V.
The street paper “strassen|feger”- “street sweeper” offers a forum for the most current and urgent social issues to be published and discussed. It offers economic improvement for the vendors and is at the same time a creative tool for salesmen, should they choose to publish their own texts or articles.
A new copy of the paper appears every second week--in total 26 editions per year--and a vendor will sell an average of 20 to 22,000 copies. The editorial team meets weekly in a public editorial meeting, where content, expectations and ideas are discussed. This guarantees constant up-to-date topics.
The organisation sells the paper to the vendors (for 0,4 € ), and then the vendors to the public (for 1,2 €). Current sale locations are Bahnhof Zoo, Ostbahnhof and Treffpunkt Kaffee Bankrott(2), located at Prenzlauer Allee 87.
The situation of the vendors varies widely. Some are without a house, some in financial difficulty, but in all cases the “strassen|feger” makes it possible for these people to earn a bit of money to help improve the situation.
The purpose and aim of selling the paper is to make it possible for the vendors to earn money. Selling “strassen|feger” is an alternative to begging and makes it possible for poor and homeless people to keep their dignity.
Apart from the general rules, the vendors are free to decide much of their work for themselves. Each vendor decides where and when to work. The general rules of “strassen|feger”, which each vendor must agree to, are that:
- The law against selling on public transport (underground and commuter trains) is to be observed
- It is not allowed to sell the paper under the influence of any drug
- Disrupting passersby and colleagues is forbidden
- The use of force and/or threats automatically leads to exclusion
- The vendor is obligated to report himself to the social and labour office if the allowed earnings are exceeded
Approximately 60 - 80 people sell the “strassen|feger” regularly in Berlin and Brandenburg. Typical sale locations are shopping centres, supermarkets, in front of train stations, in public squares and at public events.
We do not control the sales and can therefore not guarantee a location where you can find the paper. If you are interested in buying the “strassen|feger”, we kindly ask you to contact us.
On Prenzlauer Allee 87 in Berlin - Prenzlauer Berg (diagonal opposite the S-Bahn station “Prenzlauer Allee” – on the Ring), is the association mob e.V. offering a public meeting point, “Kaffee Bankrott”. The most guests are vendors, people involved in the association, or guests that stays in the shelter. Dogs are allowed and “Café Bankrupt” is adapted for handicapped. The meeting point is open all year, 7 days a week, between 8:00 and 20:00 o'clock.
The Café Bankrupt offers:
- Social contact and the possibility to start your self-help
- Internet and computers to use free of charge
- A place to stay and to keep warm
- Coffee, tea and other drinks for a affordable price
- Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner to buy for a production price
- Happenings and exhibitions
- General social consultation; every Tuesday between
- 2 pm and 5 pm, free of charge
- General legal advice given by an attorney; every
- Monday between 1 pm and 3 pm (except on vacation and holiday )
In order to ensure the open atmosphere in the “Kaffee Bankrott”, the following rules apply:
- no threat or use of force
- no sexual abuse
- no consumption or influence of drugs
mob e.V. operates “Kaffee bankrupt” with volunteers and with private donations, without governmental support. All the things we offer free of charge in the café are paid by the association, and from the gifts and donation that are given to us, this is a motto we use, which allow everyone to pay what they can afford for the services.
We see the café as a place of refuge, in case of acute crises and when one has problem. We want to offer everyone in need, as far as our possibility allows us, help to self-help. This means that the meeting place is open for everyone that comes.
Our all year round emergency overnight shelter, “Notübernachtung”, is situated at Prenzlauer Allee 87 in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. It was created in order to offer our street paper sellers an emergency place to sleep. It has now developed in to a place that is open for everyone in need, and has place for 16 guests. The stay is general limited to 8 weeks, but in exceptional cases is extension possible.
In the “Notübernachtung” there is beds for 11 men and 5 women divided in two in separate rooms. It is possible for the guests, after arrangement, to bring dogs. During the winter four extra beds are available, in order to welcome as many as possible. The association mob e.V. is running the shelter without any support from the state, and therefore need to take a admission of 1,50 € per Night, and for this price we are offering:
- Wash/showering possibilities (showering gel, shampoo, shaving things, creams, etc. free of charge)
- Washing of laundry
- Use of the dress chamber
- Internet free of charge
- Special prices in the meeting place “Kaffee Bankrott”
- Consultation and support in contact with authorities
- Assistance in the search for an apartment
The rules of the “Notübernachtung” are:
- no threat or use of force
- no sexual abuse
- no consumption, influence or possession of drugs
- No bed smoking
- Quiet after midnight
The emergency overnight accommodation is opened 7 days a week, between 19 - 23 o'clock is the door for the guests open, and the guest should leave 10 o'clock the following day. Between 9 am and 23 pm are the co-workers of the “Notübernachtung” available to help out with registration or consultation.
An apartment is not everything - however without one, is everything nothing.
For this reason is the self-help house in Oderberger Straße 12 an important part in the fight of the current problem of housing shortage in Berlin. The current housing shortage is due to lack of inexpensive apartments and the stop of state involvement in the housing industry, therefore is self-help in this case urgently necessary.
In 1999 mob e.V. received the rights to a land, and sign a contract, which stretches for a period of 50 years. There was already two houses on the land but they were old and in urgent need of renovation. The work was preformed with help of money from the “Landesprogramms Wohnungspolitische Selbsthilfe” (state program of a policy for housing self-help) and with help of engagement work from former homeless under guidance and supervision of professional architects and construction workers, and lasted until May 2003.
The result is a house with 18 apartments and 2 offices. In the offices is all the associations’ bookkeeping, the administration of the house and a second-hand shop run, and all of the apartments are currently rented to people in different special situations. This project has shown that it is possible for a self-help association like mob e.V. to be able to build up, manage limits and dead-lines and run a entire house with the help of “self-helpers”, and lead to next step, that are being built up at the moment: integration and activities in the neighbourhood. The fact that the association do all administration of the building, results in a close contact with the residents and support in their way of handling the situation.
The second-hand shops, trödel|point, at Prenzlauer Allee 87, and möbel|point at Fröbelstraße 17, offers, besides all kinds of second hand things (except clothes), a first aid furniture-help for homeless that just received their apartment. The former homeless people get all they need for their new life with thing for the kitchen, furniture etc., all paid through the association by the social authority. The project also serves as help for the citizens that needs to get rid of their heavy furniture by picking them up at their home.
The things that are given to us are picked up, repaired, cleaned and then given to people in need, this concept help to protect the environment. The project does not only help the environment, but also creates working opportunities.
Most of the workers are MAEs or so called 1-Euro-Jobers or ASS (work instead of punishment), they have the opportunity to use their abilities and talents the Trödel/Möbel|point.
Computers and the Internet are now indispensable tools and sources of information, and are used in all the different projects and department of mob e.V. The EDV-department work consists of maintenance, repair and support computers (including printers, server etc.). In addition the competence in the department is used to make the telephone system, the photocopiers and data security work.
The EDV helps to deliver, when possible, used computers to people that normal not have the chance to buy one, but need one.
In addition to all this the department of information and technology is responsible and are teaching all employees how to handle the computers and how to work with the Internet.
“mob e.V. – ‘make homeless people mobile’ aim to fight the problem of homelessness and to put it on the agenda. The association intends to do this by looking at the cultural, social and politic background of the problem and to have a good co-operation between homeless and non-homeless people, with support and critical accompany. “(from § 2 in the article of the association of mob e.V.)
“mob e.V. – ‘make homeless people mobile’ has an aim of an own non-profitable business, according to national regulations and should work in the sense of non-self gaining interest. “(from § 3 in the article of the association of mob e.V.)
In order to achieve these aims, to develop and maintain the projects, the association depends on various forms of support, i.e. voluntary work, donations to the “trödel|point” ,, financial funding for the “Notübernachtung”, and private donation to the association, the project “Ein Dach über dem Kopf”- ‘Roof over the head’ is at the moment a campaign that mob e.V organize.
Some charity-events have been arranged, as well as cooperation with others organizations and companies, where there is a mutual benefit. We are happy to issue a document of proof for donation, on request.
Poor people especially homeless do not own anything than they are wearing and they have no chance to produce something lasting, instead the most things goes loosing somewhere on the small and big flights. For the expellee stretch of road between daily warming house and emergencyshelter, christmasparty and clothing run and social welfare office, ambulant medical emergency-supply and soup-kitchen. You need phsycical training a great footwear, profound time-table-knowledge and first of all: permanent mobility. Everybody are wellcome, but not much are offered: Insipid soups, some socks and sometimes a little converstation, an advice or intertainment. When the cold is very bad, bunkers and underground station are being opened but it does not invite to staying there for a long time. Poor people do not have other choices. People that do not show up in time are down on their luck. Then they have to stay outside and have to fight for suvivar. Maybe they get begging some euros or they take a train until the morning to get some sleep for 2-3 hours.
A life outside means living with the permant danger of being deprivated, assaulted or set on fire. The lucky ones can try again the next day. Exhausted like this and soon being completely burned out, homeless people hardly have any other options than involuntarily to prove the prejudice that it is their own fault in the end, you cannot help them and they deserve it. And this is how the homeless people get the most obvious idea: to move into empty houses or other places where they want to stay. They can be sure to be driven away sooner or later because the misery should only be visible for a very short time. The so-calles winter-help for homeless people is another word for freezing to death on the money-saving organized installment plan. If not this winter, then the next one, which is definatly going to come.
Generally speaking: the living situation of homeless people is marked by the far-reading exclusion of social participation and a break-down of individual activities. The cipation and a break-down of individually percieved lack of options and usually lacking perspectieves. Cretive survinging strategies go together with permanent challenges, the living situation supports a dependence on supply-and helpoffers and boards as well as (because of missing financial resources) a latent tendency to small criminal acts (theft, theft of food, joy-rides). Social relations are lost or usually limited to functional contacts to people in the same situation and professional helpers.
Sexual relations or partnerships are only possible under very limited conditions or take place as prostutition. Competences are lost and qualifications are depreciated. Problems with drugs (often as a strategy of handling and coming to terms with their living situation) arise or develop, physical burdens (cold, weather, unsufficiant foodsupply, drugs) lead to serious, partly lasting, health damages. The lasting whereabouts in structurs like these often lead to mental abnormities, the loss of motivation and meaning with life, resignation, lethargy or individual protest (the I-don´t-careeffect”). Getting out of this situation or changing (improving) it is getting harder the longer it lasts.
(translation by Klas Ståhl. Thanx again!)
24 Hours on the Streets; The Ultimate Test
Wannabe Homeless?: Or perhaps just try it out for a day
By Kai Ritzmann - Translated by Stephen Krug, Photos: Schulz
Coming to Berlin soon? Perhaps you would like to experience life on the streets of Berlin with no money, no ID, no house keys or car keys in your pocket. Instead, tattered clothing. Very soon you get the feeling you no longer know how to go on. A "crash course in homelessness", offered by the organization "Obdachlose machen mobil" ("mobilizing against homelessness"), gives you an insight into a totally different kind of life. For 24 hours the experimentee is tossed into the life on the streets, supported only by an accompanying homeless person. To enroll, contact the editing office of the homeless-newspaper "Strassenfeger", Kopernikus-Strasse 2 (Friedrichshain), telephone: 2901959. A donation of 180 DM is expected - and lots of courage. We took the challenge.
24 Hours on the Streets - Enough to Lose Your Dignity
You're standing there in a rut and can't do anything about it: Selling the Berlin homeless paper the "Srassenfeger" as a means of survival.
These looks - colder than words could be. But nobody here would approach me with words anyway. But even the cold looks usually go past me by a hair's breadth. Hardly anyone looks me in the eye as I sit in the 245 on my way to the homeless shelter on Franklin-Strasse on this early evening.
I am wearing tattered clothing - two layers of pullovers and a ridiculous little coat that the railway charity had given me when it suddenly started pouring and the woolens began soaking up the water like a sponge. I look down on the floor or out the window, trying to make myself as small as possible in front of the other passengers, crouching in the face of their cleanliness, their cheerfulness, their looking forward to a comfortable home. They have become alien to me within just one day.
The upright way of walking is easily lost, a lot faster than you would think. When you're down and out you feel as shabby as the clothes you're wearing. Rapidly, you lose that solid middle-class aura, that had appeared to surround you forever and protect you against any peril you might come across. After a good twelve hours on the streets I humbly remove my cap as I ask a watchman in the urban train for directions. Sounds funny somehow, doesn't it? But gradually losing your self-respect is not funny at all.
The lady at the entrance of the homeless shelter is pessimistic about my future. I haven't got my ID-card on me. No ID means no chance of getting any money from the welfare office. "If you don't look after yourself a little more, you'll be back again in half a year, with the same coat - but much skinnier." Now, that hit home! Doesn't anyone see that I'm actually the friendly guy next door? Of course not, nobody does. For my environment I am no longer friendly and no longer someone from next door. The day started off relatively well, with a cup of hot coffee. But the fun is soon over. From Friedrichshain, where the organization "Obdachlosen machen mobil" (Mob) and the editorial office of the homeless-newspaper "Strassenfeger" ("road sweeper") are located, I take the urban train to Zoo station. I don't have a ticket - what choice do I have without a penny in my pocket. The 7 marks 50 for a BVG day-ticket have to be earned first. The VW-van where the "Strassenfeger" can be picked up is on Jebens-Strasse. One mark per paper goes to the organization, one mark remains with the vendor.
With the papers under my arm I'm off to Ku'damm. Lutz, who accompanies me, is a professional and strongly recommends that I approach every passer-by on the street. I can't bring myself to do that. Adolescents fooling around, yuppies with cellular phones, tourists - they will hardly pull out their wallets. With this attitude I manage to sell one paper in half an hour. It's depressing.
My angle is getting narrower. I perceive the boulevard only as a territory, on which I must fight for a couple of marks. Of the colorful wealth of thoughts that normally comes to my mind when I'm strolling down Ku'damm, only one has remained: sell your newspapers! See to it that you get some cash rolling in! After all, the day is long and there's a rumbling in my stomach. I have more luck in the subway. Some people pay the price I ask for and leave the paper with a patronizing look on their face.
On Savigny-Platz I start begging. Two children fish a couple of pennies out of their pockets. I take them and smile gratefully. How low can you get!
At night, in the homeless shelter, I can hardly catch any sleep. The hours are crawling by. The fellow in the bed above me is tossing and turning from one side to the other. One of the others is snoring loudly. And yet another obviously has only his sleep in which he say what's on his mind.
The night is over at six-thirty. Hardly anyone speaks in the breakfast room. Nearly silently the men take advantage of their remaining time to build up their strength for the day - the shelter closes at 9 o'clock. In a few hours I will be back in my home sweet home. If I wouldn't have this possibility to back out, I would have exactly 25 pfennigs initial capital. For a moment a cold shiver runs down my back.
Translated by Stephen Krug.
©Berliner Morgenpost 1997 [berliner morgenpost international]