6) Hope in Times of War

We are living in a time of crises. The pandemic is not over. My Corona-App on my phone is always red. I’m comforted that my vaccination protects my loved ones as well as me, and a mask provides additional physical protection. Right now, I think we all know someone who has recently fallen ill and we wish them all a speedy and full recovery.

In the ministry’s Corona Preschool Council I receive regular updates about the situation of daycare and preschool students and staff. Many locations are closed or are dealing with many absent staff. Many children have to stay at home, and when they do then the parents do as well. That’s why I was pleased that during the coalition talks we were able to negotiate for more children’s sick days and additional compensation for parents, as well as counting short-term work into the parental allowance calculations as full employment, so that parents aren’t disadvantaged and providers of social services act responsibly and prudently in order to protect all of us. But what I have no sympathy for is vaccination opponents who paralyze our inboxes, and therefore our ability to work, with thousands of emails. Because vaccination is more important now than ever. Please stop it!

It’s more important than ever because now a second crisis is in our midst. There is war in Europe. This has economic, supply chain, energy, and above all human consequences:

On Saturday I was out with two Ukrainian girls who recently arrived in our neighborhood. We had gone out to get them clothes, school supplies, and things they needed for daily life. They had arrived here with a small suitcase each, and with tears in their eyes. What they lack in material objects we can provide. But we can’t dry their tears, can’t take away their fear of losing loved ones, family, friends. We can only try to give them confidence and hope. A roof over their head, safety, and, most importantly, a chance for children to spend time with each other. One of these girls is going to my daughter’s school now. This makes her happy, and us as well. Every smile of hers, however tentative, is full of hope and sunshine.

According to the UN Humans Rights Council, there are more than 12.65 million people in the areas of Ukraine that have been most affected by the war (as of March 25, 2022). More than 3.6 million people so far have fled Ukraine via border crossings in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. The Federal Police has identified approximately 272,500 displaced persons from the Ukraine in Germany so far. The focus is on the border with Poland (161,700) and the border with Austria (63,200). According to internal numbers, the current number of registrations is about 48,000, of which approximately 69% are women, about 30% are younger than 14, and about 6.4% are older than 65. We have to be there for these people. We must provide opportunities for them. We have been working to do exactly that at the ministry these past days, and the list is now long. You’re welcome to read it for yourselves: 


In addition to this, I try to get involved personally, and I feel for every person who sets out on a journey to reach safety. People with disabilities on the way to Urstberg, with whom I feel as if I’m accompanying every step of the way. Children from orphanages, mothers in search of their children, who have been sent ahead with other adults. They are all in my thoughts, along with those who had to stay behind. War brings only suffering, nothing, none of this is good. None of this is comprehensible, and yet there is war in our midst. 

It will change us, challenge us, break habits, and bring unavoidable consequences. Are we prepared for this? No. Are we aware of our responsibility? Hopefully, yes. Not everyone, but we as a team in the Family Ministry and also in the Green Party are. 

So what do my days look like at the moment? Despite everything, I’m on the road a lot, working in the ministry, in parliament, in committee. Negotiations, appointments, calls, email, governing documents, and so much more. For example, on Friday we received an offer from a well-known actor: he has space for eighty people. Another email, wanting to help people with disabilities, looking for space. Others, who can’t get out of Urkaine and have only one message: “Help us.” 

I was able to take all the calls, help, organize, connect people, between debates, committee meetings, and negotiations about if children from orphanages and unaccompanied minors should be classified under the Youth Welfare Act or the Asylum Seekers Guidance Act. 

Then a moment. Sitting on the sofa, still hearing background noise, holding a cup of tea, listening to chattering family and just being grateful. For everything we have. You know the feeling? If not, definitely try to learn to appreciate the moments of wonder in daily life. Because that’s what gets us through these times. 

Wishing you all, despite everything, good times.

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