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Auxiliary group for kids in Duisburg (Duesseldorf)

Original text by Fabienne Piepiora
Photos by Lars Fröhlich

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I decided to translate this article for my foreign friends and anyone else who might be interested in reading it but doesn’t speak German.
It was published in the German newspaper “WAZ” on March 3rd, Protected content

Astrid Günther takes care of Malak and helps her to have a smooth start of school life. The association is working closely together with nursery schools.

Astrid Günther is watching over Malak’s shoulder. The girl whose mother is from Morocco is working on a colourful mask. She puts colour on the face, decorates it with glitter. After that, she proudly shows the result to the adults. Astrid Günther praises – and smiles. She is doing voluntary work for the association “Bildungslotsen” ( = education guides ). Once a week she picks Malak up, spends some free time with her and playfully helps her improve her German. “Lions Club Concordia” founded the association “Bildungslotsen” 4 years ago to help pre-school kids of socially deprived families have a smooth start of school life. To do so, the association is working closely together with a number or nursery schools. At the moment there are 19 adults who individually take care of 19 children.
Astrid Günther is an examinated foreign language assistant. She used to live in Cologne where she was involved in an auxiliary organisation for refugees. When she moved to Duisburg, she was looking for a similar field of activity. “I think everyone deserves the same chances, regardless of origin and social-economic status.” She is happy when she picks up Malak in the afternoon – and Malak automatically profits of the nice time they spend together.
“In some families with several children it is important to spend some time with just one child”, knows Felizia Boßmann. But the volunteers are sometimes also able to absorb unexpected social hardships. The secretary of the education guides organises trainings for the volunteers. For example, they have a look at the families’ cultures since the contact to the parents is not less important. Furthermore, Felizia Boßmann is in touch with a number of nursery schools to choose the children for the education guides. “At the moment I have a number of requests”, she says. In average the guides take care of the kids for about a year before they start school – and they also keep in touch with them for the first few months at the new eductional institution. This way they should succeed in having a smooth transition.
Astrid Günther is happy with her volunteer job. “It is nice to see the children’s development.”
Occationally all the guides and children spend some time together as a group. Then they for example do crafts or visit the forest. For some of the young participants it is the first time they go for a walk in the forest.