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Apostolic Movement

Afternoon get-together with Ukrainian refugees in the Schoenstatt Pilgrims’ House

By: Heinrich Brehm

About 30 children of all ages were in attendance and were delighted to be able to participate in an Easter egg hunt rally in the pilgrims’ compound on the eve of the Orthodox Easter. They all shared sausages, salads, beverages, as well as coffee and cake.

“I think it’s great that Schoenstatt has organized this afternoon,” said Vallendar Mayor Wolfgang Heitmann in an interview with “I found it a joyful event because it gave the various refugees the opportunity to get to know each other in a very pleasant and nice atmosphere, and also to come into contact with locals, which of course was also difficult due to the language barriers.” Heitmann emphasized that he found that the commitment of his fellow citizens to accommodate the refugees was great. However, it is difficult for the city to provide sufficient adequate housing for refugees for a long term.

Anna Schwaderlapp welcoming everybody (Foto: Hbre)

Discussion of possibilities and ways forward

For refugees and hosts, this invitation was a good opportunity to talk amongst themselves and with new neighbors, even if only temporarily. Small groups could be seen exchanging information about where to shop, talking to each other about how to take advantage of benefits offered by various government offices and agencies, what steps to take to open a bank account, how to obtain food vouchers, the certificate of eligibility for the food bank, and how to apply for a housing permit or a work permit.

Finding the right people to help

The leaders of the association “bewegenswert e.V.”, who in cooperation with the refugee coordinator of the city of Vallendar are involved in coordinating the accommodation of refugees in Schoenstatt, Vallendar, together with those who have provided shelter to the refugees in their homes, invited all Ukrainian citizens housed in Schoenstatt as well as all Ukrainian refugees living in the municipality of Vallendar to this afternoon get-together. Anna Schwaderlapp, co-director of the association, was present to answer any questions. For example, whether relatives of a refugee family who were able to leave Mariupol the day before could also be accommodated in Vallendar.

 “That’s where we can help establish the necessary contacts with the city’s refugee coordinator,” says the head of the Schoenstatt Family House. “We at bewegenswert e.V. cannot help directly with finding housing or other matters, but we can help find suitable contacts.”

Easter egg hunt on the eve of Orthodox Easter (Photo: Hbre)

Language courses are being planned

One concrete offer that the association was able to provide, together with the Sisters of Mary at the Pilgrims’ House, is a larger recreation room for meetings, which at the moment is permanently available for refugees. There is a children’s play area, a lounge area, and a small store with donated clothing. A language course will also be offered in these rooms as soon as possible, because one thing that was clearly evident this afternoon: “Language is a very decisive factor for the success of these meetings and for receiving help,” says Tobias Brehm, chairman of the association “bewegenswert e.V.” “Without the volunteer Ukrainian translators who also speak German, the afternoon would not have gone as well.”

Afternoon get-together
Prayer at the end of the afternoon in the Original Shrine (Photo: Hbre)

Prayer for unity in difficult times

The event concluded at around 5:45 p.m. with a brief moment of prayer in front of the Original Shrine. Father Johnson Panthappillil (Schoenstatt Father), who comes from India, encouraged the refugees and their hosts to remain together and to encourage each other in this very difficult situation. The Shrine is a place to draw strength and ask God for hope and peace, he said. “If we stand together, we can live,” was the essence of his brief message. A prayer sheet in Ukrainian/German allowed those present to join in prayer in both languages, and it was a special moment when the “Our Father” and a prayer to Mary were said at the end in both languages simultaneously.



Source: Schö
Fotos: Hbre / T.Brehm


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