Layali has a German school assignment tomorrow. “The layout of a report” is the topic. Gerd Schurz discusses the task with the 14-year-old. Introductory text, text overview, heading. Right in the middle, Amir asks “Mr. Gerd” if the terms, ie the series of numbers he used for the calculation, are correct. The 12-year-old smiles as the 77-year-old pats him on the shoulder. “Yes, that’s right, well done.”
Layali and Amir are two of the seven children in the Egyptian-Syrian Melik family who have lived in Schweinfurt since 2014. Since the start of the school year in the summer of 2021, “Mr. Gerd” has taken care of Layali, Amir and their 13-year-old brother Bakr as a family sponsor for the child protection association. Everyone goes to the Wilhelm-Sattler-Realschule in Schweinfurt, the two seniors go to seventh grade, Amir goes to sixth grade.
The three children have gotten better in school
The three siblings have since improved their grades. Twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday afternoons, the trio marches to the district group’s premises at Graben in Schweinfurt. Then you learn, obtain material. “A three in all subjects,” Gerd Schurz stated as the goal. It looks good.
“I can concentrate better here,” says Meliks’ eldest daughter. “It’s fun,” the brothers add. This has to do with the fact that a game is sometimes inserted.
The Child Welfare Association has over 400 local and district associations throughout Germany. The child protection association Schweinfurt was founded in 2008. Marianne Firsching had the idea at the time. She sat on the city council with Gerd Schurz for the SPD, got him involved, no persuasion was needed.
Family godfather Gerd Schurz: “I saw the time and the need”
Gerd Schurz is a trained social worker, child and adolescent psychotherapist, curative teacher and supervisor. For 35 years until 2006, he headed Haus Marienthal, the Protestant child, youth and family welfare service in Schweinfurt. “I saw the time and the need to establish the child welfare association with its goals also in Schweinfurt,” says the sponsor. Gerd Schurz and Marianne Firsching are both still active in the district association as vice chairmen.
In the everyday life of many single parents, in families with newborns, with a sick child or a parent, there are always times when everything becomes too much, where family life fills all the parents. It’s nice for a child or young person from these stressed families when someone takes the time – to visit the playground or read a story from their favorite book or just to talk. “We take all families, the problem does not matter,” says Yvonne Bauer. She is the only full-time employee of the Child Protection Association in Schweinfurt and trains the family’s sponsors.
The Child Welfare Association of Schweinfurt currently has 25 sponsors
Despite Corona, nine new sponsors joined the team in 2021. You will receive certified and qualifying preparation in three training units totaling 36 hours. Bauer continues to care for and advise the family sponsors during their assignment. There are currently 25 sponsors, a few women more than men. The youngest is 21 years old, Gerd Schurz and Marianne Firsching are the oldest. There are currently 28 sponsorships, 13 in the city and 15 in the Schweinfurt district.
Yvonne Bauer is well aware that a family sponsorship cannot be created with a template, but is a very individual matter. It is important to engage with the needs of the respective family and thus provide assistance in an atmosphere of partnership.
Some sponsorships have been running for several years
The duration of such sponsorship varies, it usually lasts a year because it takes time to get to know each other and trust each other. However, some sponsorships have been running for several years – like the one with the single mother of four children. The youngest of five years is looking forward to every visit because the godmother is “so funny, so kind and always in a good mood, she is an angel to us all,” he describes in the current annual report.
“The essential prerequisite for this social volunteer work is common sense and personal life experience,” says Gerd Schurz. There is no payment, only a small expense allowance, which almost all sponsors donate to the Child Welfare Association.
“I broaden my horizons every time, learning a lot about myself, but also getting to know my boundaries.”
Family sponsor Gerd Schurz
“The recognition and appreciation of our work takes place on an emotional level, for me it shows in my personal satisfaction, I think it’s fun and entertaining,” he says. And: Volunteering is not a one-way street either. “I expand my horizons every time, learn a lot about myself, but also get to know my boundaries,” says Gerd Schurz.
Parents are relieved and can recharge their batteries
Almost logical: not only the children enjoy the time the sponsors give. Parents also enjoy it, are relieved and can recharge their batteries, says Schurz. His last family sponsorship was a young, single mother.
Once a week, he looked after their first class for a few hours and played with the boy on the playground. After a year, the 24-year-old had stabilized and found a new partner. Gerd Schurz Help is no longer needed.
Once a month, the family sponsors exchange information with each other while maintaining confidentiality. If other facilities are needed for further assistance, Yvonne Bauer will take care of them.
In 2021, the sponsors of the Schweinfurt Child Protection Association volunteered nearly 1,000 hours, benefiting 69 children and youth, such as the Melik trio. By the way: Layali will be a police officer, her brother Bakr an engineer and Amir, the youngest, a table tennis professional.
Everyone who wants to become a sponsor of the Child Welfare Association, can contact us by phone 0157/54888273 or by e-mail to email@example.com. Further information is available at www.kinderschutzbund-schweinfurt.de and at www.familienpaten-bayern.de
Apply for the “Give an Example!”
The campaign “Make a mark!” was and will be continued in times of the corona pandemic – most recently in predominantly digital form. Exemplary initiatives are reported in Main-Post’s newspapers and online at www.mainpost.de. Following the jury’s decision, the four prizes – gifted with 500 to 3000 euros – will be awarded in a separate event in late autumn.
The initiatives comes from a wide range of areas: This includes social activities such as visiting services, help with homework and food banks, but also cultural engagement.
Initiatives can either apply themselves, or they are suggested by third parties – for example by readers or editors. Everyone can name individuals or groups who contribute important things to the common good in their area. Projects and initiatives from Lower Franconia and the nearby Main-Tauber district can be submitted.
applications for prices and reporting, please send no later than 30 September 2022 to: