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“Bufdis“ Are in Short Supply
They are the new people doing community service: So called Bufdis, engaged people of every age and gender who can espouse different social projects in the Federal Voluntary Service. So far, so good. But how is this possibility of social commitment accepted? REHACARE.de got an idea of it on site at a senior citizen's home.
For Elisabeth Römisch the BFD is definitively no successful model;
For months there was complete silence. Not even one single application entered the senior citizen's centre Theo-Burauen-House (THB) of the Workers' Welfare Association (AWO) district association Cologne. „But beforehand the politicians told us that the Bufdis would beat a path to our doors,“ remembers Elisabeth Römisch, head of the THB Cologne. „However, we did not see any of them in our both AWO houses.“
Elisabeth Römisch supposes that, among the rest, it was due to the fact that beforehand so many nuances of the Federal Voluntary Service (BFD) were unclear and, actually, no one properly knew how everything should take place. „So it is no miracle that the BFD had such initial difficulties,“ she sums up. Only in October 2011 the first Bufdi started his voluntary service.
Old versus new volunteers
The only limited available financial means involve that in the Cologne senior citizen's centre that the current four approved Bufdis will be cut down to only three next year. This makes it very difficult for Römisch to plan long-term with the Bufdis. „We become more and more capped. Who knows how many places we can still offer then in 2014,“ says Römisch.
All together there are 220 employees responsible for 179 inhabitants. So, every supporting hand is important. But for the head of the THB Cologne the Bufdis are no comparison to the people doing community service, the so called Zivis: „The relation four Bufdis to ten Zivis whom we had before is ridiculous,“ she says. „If these were five, at least. Then we would have a Bufdi for every living area. But thus …,“ she sighs with a shrug.
When getting into detail, one notices fast that Elisabeth Römisch mourns for the Zivis a little bit. She criticises that the Bufdis, in contrast to Zivis, are not visible as a group. „This is a great pity and becomes also apparent,“ she says. In events for the inhabitants, as for example on carnival, the sense of community of the volunteers is absent. „The Zivis were a firm group which brought fun into the house,“ remembers Römisch. „Moreover, it paid off more to organise advanced trainings, possibly on the subject Dementia. At least it was easier.“
What she also regrets very much is that the Bufdis in her facility do not even know themselves personally. Alexander Stolzenwald can also confirm this: „With the other Bufdis I, actually, have no contact,“ says the 17-year-old. „Except with one, but I have known him privately for twelve years now.“
The Bufdis look, for example, after demented patients and accompany them with their everyday procedures; © REHACARE.de
Being a Bufdi is easy enough …
Shortly before getting his final exam, Alexander has left school consciously: „I was looking for alternative possibilities because I was tired of going to school,“ he remembers. „To me all theory was too much.“ A friend of him made a Voluntary Year of Social Service in a facility for handicapped children. She told him about the BFD. „However, for me it was quickly clear that I rather wanted to work with senior citizens.“ Now since December 2011 Alexander is involved in the THB house in Cologne. In the beginning only six months were included in the plan, however, in the meantime, he has extended for twelve months because he likes it so well.
The Bufdis work in the single households and look after the dementia patients who live there. „The inhabitants need pep-talk, constancy and clear structures,“ explains Elisabeth Römisch. „So social competence is very important.“ The volunteers go together with the demented senior citizens in the garden, they accompany them when they eat and make sure that they remain seated. And they also help them in everyday duties.
Alexander Stolzenwald is committed in the Federal Voluntary Service;
Alexander Stolzenwald is responsible for assistant's work in the kitchen and for the care of the inhabitants. He likes the contact with the senior citizens especially well. „For a tiny impulse one gets back an incredibly amount of gratitude,“ tells the 17-year-old with luminous eyes.
… but becoming a Bufdi can be very rough
However, even if Bufdis like Alexander speak so enthusiastically about their work in the THB, it changes nothing in the fact that the senior citizen's centre in Cologne has received a total of only 15 applications last year. Elisabeth Römisch explains the lacking resonance with the fact that the geriatric care is seen still negatively in our society and has a bad reputation. „To be able to estimate the geriatric care, one must experience it. Only this way one gets the right idea,“ says Römisch. In order to work in this job on long term, one really has to like this kind of work.
The Bufdis in Cologne THB actually work only in the support of the inhabitants. Who has, however, serious interest in the care, also has the chance during his BFD to try out himself in nursing activities. When being suitable, a takeover into an education relation is possible and wanted, however, up to now it did not happen yet.
When his time as a Bufdi is over, Alexander Stolzenwald will be about 18 and therefor cannot simply return to his old school to get his secondary school leaving examination. „I have accepted this, however, with pleasure,“ he says self-confidently. Maybe after his Bufdi time he makes a voluntary military service. „Moreover, I have my advanced technical certificate. Still many ways are open to me.“ Whether he wants to work in geriatric care later? „I do not exclude it, however, I still do not want to commit myself to it.“