Breakfast and Homeschooling in Shifts

Munich, Aug 02, 2021

Since its founding in 2006, WACKER has been a partner The Ark can rely on. And despite the pandemic, the Munich-based children’s charity can count on continued support. The Ark helps children and adolescents from socially disadvantaged families in the Moosach district. The charity received its 15th WACKER donation of €100,000 this summer, taking the total donated to over €1.5 million.

Due to the coronavirus, The Ark Summer Festival was canceled for the second time. WACKER usually presented the annual donation during the festivities. Instead of company management representatives and WACKER helpers meeting up in person at the cake buffet, the children got creative and sent their greetings with hand-crafted pictures. “At WACKER we take our responsibility toward being a reliable partner to The Ark seriously,” explained president & CEO Christian Hartel. “As a father, I know how important it is for every child to have a place where they always feel welcome, a haven they are happy to return to. The vibrant colorful pictures show us how much the children love their Ark.”

Especially now during the pandemic, The Ark has been a pillar of strength for children and their families. The carers contacted them via digital platforms, and popular forums like the weekly children’s party, girls-only activities and the parents’ breakfast were held online. “We supported our families with grocery packages, hardware and advice,” noted Larissa Rauter, head of The Ark. Observing strict hygiene protocols, she and her team brought the in-kind and food donations right to the families’ front doors.

Whenever possible under pandemic regulations, The Ark opened its doors, especially for consultations and to help with homework. “The children were so happy that we could help them. With radiant eyes above their masks, they came inside,” explains Claudia Gruber from the Munich Ark team.

Learning in the stairwell or the bathroom

Larissa Rauter describes the gravity of the situation during the pandemic: “Our children’s families quickly reached their limit, especially due to the drastic space constraints with up to six people in a two-room apartment.” And with no technical equipment and language difficulties, homeschooling was hardly feasible. “Even simple things like a hot lunch every day is not always a given. In some families, daily routines broke down and the children were awake at night and slept during the day. Some children preferred to do their lessons in the stairwell or in the bathroom, because these were the quietest places in the building.”

Breakfast and a stable internet in shifts

For the Ark team, lockdown presented great challenges which demanded immediate action. “We introduced a shift system so that children could have breakfast in The Ark from 7.45 a.m. and follow their remote-learning program in peace and quiet with a stable internet connection,” said Larissa Rauter. The Ark team reported that the pre- and post-lockdown phases brought to light “how badly the pandemic has affected our children and adolescents.”

Some measures adopted to deal with the coronavirus have proved so useful that they have earned a permanent place in The Ark’s daily routine. “We’re planning on continuing digital individual extra lessons, hybrid team meetings and deeper relationship-building work with more frequent one-to-one contact,” says Larissa Rauter. An essential aspect of the support offered is the daily hot lunch – for many children, it’s the only warm meal of the day.

The Ark paves the way to a school-leaving certificate

Even before the pandemic, growing up in poverty often meant material deprivation and social exclusion, and deficits in children’s social, cognitive and health development. This is where The Ark’s offering has proven successful in the long term – which the good grades achieved by children who have been with The Ark for many years underscore. “Last year, eleven of our young people obtained a secondary school leaving certificate and twelve an intermediate school leaving certificate,” says a delighted Larissa Rauter. The carers regularly consult with teachers from neighboring schools. Volunteers support The Ark's work, such as their educational support programs and reading projects. “As a company traditionally committed to the education of children and young people, WACKER welcomes this focus,” notes Christian Hartel.

WACKER has donated some €1.5 million to The Ark over 15 years of partnership. Back in December 2020, WACKER gave a special donation of €50,000. The enduring friendship dates back to 2006, when the city of Munich erected a container for The Ark in Moosach, which was later replaced with a bright, modern building. Thanks to the dedication of the Ark team, children and adolescents feel at home here. The WACKER helper group often visited before the pandemic and occasionally helped out – like with the cake buffet at the annual Summer Festival. Now the employees are collecting in-kind donations of items on The Ark’s list: https://www.kinderprojekt-arche.de/helfen-sie/sachspende. That way, all who want to help can do so – every small gesture brings a smile to a child’s face.

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Wacker Chemie AG
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Petra Hettich

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