My name is Kai Odrian, I’m 24 years old and in my third semester of the Mannheim Master in Management. I would like to introduce you to the AUFWIND (“Updraft”) project of Mannheim’s Neckarstadt.
The AUFWIND project was launched in 2007 and aims to combat child poverty in the heart of Mannheim. Currently, more than 25 children of elementary school age and their families are cared for as part of the project in Mannheim’s Neckarstadt neighborhood.
After school, the children come to the premises of AUFWIND, where they eat lunch together. When they are finished, they can do their homework, in which we help them, and play. However, the help provided by this project goes far beyond this daily support: If a child needs e.g. new shoes, the AUFWIND team helps with money for a purchase or goes shopping with the child. In addition, the children can participate in circus projects or sports and music courses. The regular daily routine that AUFWIND provides, but also the various projects promote the children's self-confidence and perspective. They become part of a community, are assigned tasks and take on responsibilities allowing them to grow. AUFWIND offers everything that children should learn and experience.
I learned about the AUFWIND project three and a half years ago. At first, I spent one afternoon a week there and assisted the children with their homework or played with them. After a short time, I sponsored one of the children. We did things together outside the AUFWIND premises and over time, I developed a very close relationship with my sponsored child and its grandma, with whom it lives. We went out by bike or to the city, ate ice cream, visited the museum or the soccer stadium. Since my sponsored child transferred to secondary school, I help them with homework or exam preparation.
Unfortunately, it was not easy to regularly see each other due to the coronavirus pandemic this year. This way, I learned how home schooling works and that you can explain math exercises via video call, too. We all sincerely hope that we will soon be able to meet again without restrictions and do things together.
After three and a half years, I can definitely say that the sponsorship has been a great experience for both me and my sponsored child and that it has strengthened us, albeit in different ways.