It was the middle of September when I, once again, had the privilege of travelling to Untermarchtal, Germany. The Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul had invited me to attend and speak at their annual open day – an event that brings together supporters, volunteers and friends of their missions in Germany and abroad.
It was as if I had not left.
The welcome was as warm and affectionate as the first time; the hospitality as memorable as before. I was so glad that the Sisters had invited me, and so happy to have the opportunity to learn more about their engagement not only in Germany, but also in Tanzania and Ethiopia. There seemed to be no end to their commitment: they run hospitals and aged care homes; kindergartens; a school for deaf children; health centres and much more. And they enable young volunteers from Germany to help in all of these projects; broaden their horizons and learn about social issues at home and abroad.
All visitors to the open day seemed to be as impressed as I was; and all seemed to be eager to learn more about Vincentian work. I realised that when presenting on the Famvin Homeless Alliance and the 13 Houses Campaign. In the beginning, everyone was listening intently but soon enough; discussions filled the room – commenting on the issues of poverty, affordable housing and the need of both grassroots movements and policy changes from the top. There was a deep understanding of the complexity of the issue of homelessness but also that big question of ‘How can we end it?’.
It is a difficult question to answer.
For my part however, I am entirely convinced that, together, we can find a response to homelessness. I believe that we do have the knowledge, the skills and the resources. I believe that if we continue to come together – just as we did that day – and if we collaborate, then we can end homelessness and create a world in which everybody has a place to call home.
Anja Bohnsack, Research and Development Manager