My name is Hanna Kähler. I am 20 years old and I live and work in the National Multiples Sclerosis Centrum in Melsbroek as a volunteer for one year. Before I started to work here nearly 9 months ago, I had just finished school in Germany. I didn’t want to study right after my A-levels, because after 13 years of school it was time for a change. I wanted to get involved in social work, but I also wanted to leave Germany for a while to get to know a different country. I looked for a possibility to connect these wishes and found out about the European Voluntary Service. This is a program from the European Union that has the aim to achieve cultural exchange between different European countries due to young Europeans that are working and living in different projects that for example are dealing with the environment, with children or also with art in other European countries. So I read about the National Multiples Sclerosis Centrum and the possibility to work there as a volunteer in the cybercafé. I applied for the position and after that everything went really fast. I received a short training in Germany and then I already sat in the train to Brussels North station. And well, I arrived in July 2010 and I am still here. So is my colleague Sercan.
Basically our work contains of two important parts: to provide help at the use of the computer in the cybercafé and to work at some evening’s of the week in the cafeteria to serve drinks. The cybercafé is open from Monday to Friday from 10 h up to 18 h or 20 h for the patients of the Centrum. Practically we are there for the patients to provide help, If they want it or need it. Some patients are very skilled to use a computer and some aren’t. We are there for both sides. On the computers in the cybercafé you can print, scan files, do a puzzle, write letters, or spend your time in the internet to check your emails, play games, listen to music etc. Also people with stronger disabilities can use the computer for example with a device that’s called “point-it!”.
On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and some Fridays my colleague or I are working in the cafeteria from 18 h to 20 h to serve drinks in the cafeteria, switch the TV programme or to open and explain the use of the new “Nintendo Wii console”. Since the “wii” is at the cafeteria, there is a completion between a group of patients, who has the highest score in bowling.
In one of my first conversation with Dr. Ketelaer we were talking about Belgium and Germany and that they don’t seem so different, but after the time I spent here, I can say we are not very much different, but we are surely not alike. I learned so much in Belgium. And I think this is very important for me. That I learned. I learned so much. Not just about Belgium or about Belgian people, but also about people in general, about MS, about different languages, and especially about myself. I still will be in the Centrum until July, but I already think that this year is an experience I don’t want to miss and I would like to thank everyone that made it possible for me to come to Belgium and to let me get these experiences. Thank you very much.