Retirement home in Tunisia

till August 2017

Our co-worker reports:  

Full of expectation, Rahma sits down on a chair. My colleague Sina and I gradually put different items on the table in front of her:  empty glas bottles, paintbrushes and different kinds of paint. At last, we get out the patchwork that Rahma had been working on for the last few weeks. When she was still young, her fingers skillfully created beautiful pieces of art by putting together different kinds of threads and fabric. Now that she is older, things go a bit slower.

The once skillful and quick hands do not want to work as easily, and the decrepit eyes tire faster. Nevertheless, Rahma concentrates and threads long, colorful strips of fabric through the coarsely woven fabric. Every ten minutes she puts her work on the table and disappears from the lounge. After a few minutes, she returns from her little break to continue working. Step by step, in her own style and pace.

"A retirement home in Tunisia? I always thought in those countries the elderly people stay with their families and there is no need for such an institution?" people keep telling me when I am traveling through Germany and tell about my work. At first, I myself was surprised to find such a home here in this small city. Culturally, the elderly people are well respected by the younger people and usually live close to their children. However there are some men and women who do not have close relatives, or families who are financially not able to take care of them. Some unfortunately have been left alone due to difficult family relationships or a big fight.

At present, 40 people from the region live in the home, men and women in equal parts. One of the residents is always happy to see me so he can unpack his German skills, which he acquired in Germany in the 1970s. In almost faultless German, he brings me up to date on soccer.

For cultural reasons, my colleague Sina and I spend most of our time with the women. Every Monday and Thursday we do crafts together, play cards with colors and try to bring movement into their everyday lives with balloons and the improvised mini bowling alley. One of the goals is to inspire Tunisian employees to start offering small activities for the elderly people. We are especially happy when they curiously sit down at the table.

Since the elderly rarely get visitors from outside, we always invite Tunisian friends to volunteer. Certainly, there are nicer places to visit. However, where you are expectantly greeted with a "What are we working at today?" Moreover, where else are you sent off with a hopefull "When are you coming back?"

Our employee has returned back to Germany. Yet there are still many opportunities to help out in this project, through the well established agreements and relationship we have with our partnering organization. If you are interested, please check out our vacancies or contact us directly.