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Project One World: healing, learning, integrating

Helping foreign families to feel a part of the German culture as they arrive to get urgent medical care for their seriously sick children

It is heartbreaking to witness the shocked, exhausted expressions of parents as they arrive in the hospital with a seriously ill child. How much worse must it be when, as parents, you don’t speak the language, you don’t know the culture, and are at the mercy of complete strangers? You may have sold your house to pay for treatment, you will have left your job and friends, and even your own children. No one can tell you when you will return home, and no one can promise you your child will survive. Project One World is working to give everyone the chance to communicate their feelings, concerns and questions, in order to survive the biggest challenge of their lives.

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Our clinic hires skilled interpreters for important meetings about the treatment and side-effects of medication, or the details about operations, but, for everyday situations, everyone just has to survive the best way they can. The simplest things that you and I take for granted, like buying food or train tickets, talking to other parents, asking what time the doctor is coming, are for others, impossible.

Life saving treatment can take many months, sometimes a year, so our medical director, Prof. Niemeyer decided that it was time to take action and give families the opportunity to learn the language from the beginning of treatment. Her goal is for parents and patients to develop enough German language skills to be able to communicate with medical staff, families and other workers in the clinic. She also wanted to be sure that these families would build up confidence to be able to integrate themselves a little better into everyday German life, e.g. going shopping, travelling, organizing official things and, perhaps, make a friend or two.

Together with WordCafe (a communications company whose founder also happens to work in the children’s clinic) Project One World has begun. It’s complicated to organize because our patients often cancel at short notice when they are very sick or have unexpected appointments for MRT, X-Rays, physiotherapy, etc. Happily, everything is done online, and our freelance teachers are patient, empathic and flexible. We celebrate success, not based upon how many German words people learn, but on each and every lesson that actually takes place!

What we can’t show you is the moment a seven years old girl turns to the boy in the next bed and says ‘hello’ in German, and the pleasure and pride when the other child answers back and smiles! Or how about the mother who shyly asks another parent, ‘how is your son today?’ It sounds so little, doesn’t it, but, in terms of emotional adjustment, it’s nothing less than monumental.

There are so many people doing fantastic work around the globe that it’s a challenge to know who to support. If, reading this, you feel a connection to our work and would like to support us, please donate to:

Project One World
IBAN: DE04 6805 0101 0015 0001 50
Intended use: "3411723200-Projekt One World-Deutsch lernen"

THANK YOU! from everyone involved in this project.