Primary school children from Lower Saxony are giving their toys to children in the Ebola‑affected areas – and the local SOS Children’s Villages take care of distributing those gifts.
The elementary school pupils came especially for this to the Reichstag in Berlin, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel herself accepted these toy donations. I had the special honors to also take part as spokesperson for the SOS Children’s Villages programs in Africa, and, furthermore, to hand over a present myself: “Palaver Africa”, a game by the African SOS Children’s Villages.
Foto: Steven Rösler
Dr. Roy Kühne, the initiator of this campaign for donations, was excited about the willingness to donate of the pupils from Lower Saxony and said: ”I’m so happy to see how many donations have been collected, and that the children can hand over their collection themselves in Berlin today.”
The Chancellor Angela Merkel took the time to talk to the children and, in this way, show them personally how thankful she is. I also had the chance to exchange a few words with Chancellor Angela Merkel – we talked about the campaign, the situation of the children in the Ebola-affected areas and the work of the SOS Children’s Villages worldwide. During the meeting with Angela Merkel, I was especially impressed by her charisma, her pleasantness and her warmth. She is really a remarkable woman!
Foto: Steven Rösler
Walter Lindner was also filled with enthusiasm. The German Coordinator for Ebola epidemic takes care of the coordination and organization of the delivery of the toys to the affected areas. For Walter Lindner, this is equally a matter of the heart as it is a matter of course. The African Continent is no stranger to him. He served as ambassador to East Africa for many years – even in my home country Burundi.
However, this is not the only reason why I am in full respect for his work. My admiration holds especially for his general commitment: ever since he has been announced the German Coordinator for Ebola epidemic, he has travelled to the affected regions several times, simply to show his presence and to see for himself what kind of support is needed within regions. He also knows certainly, what it means for the children down there to be isolated for weeks, because of the permanent risk of infection. He told me in our conversations, that he experiences this a little bit himself, every time he returns from his trips to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, when he has to pass on every handshake or any other physical contact during the compulsory 21 days of the incubation period. The situation gets even more intense when he tells me: “The worst thing for me, during this time, is that I can’t even give my daughter a hug.”
The dimensions of the impact on the children in the Ebola-affected areas can only be guessed.
In the conversations with Chancellor Merkel, Walter Lindner, Dr. Roy Kühne and all the other numerous dedicated people in the course of the handover of the donations from Lower Saxony, one aspect became clear: Those toys are really important for the children in Africa – they give them comfort, distract them from their pain, bring a smile to their faces and create a little moment of a normal childhood.
But we all know: These children, who had to give up so much and had to suffer so much loss due to the impact of the epidemic, need now and hereafter so much more: support, medical care, structure, communication and people, who are there for them and can hug them at last.
Foto: Tommy Trenchard