• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Homeless university offers hope on the streets

DPA/The Local · 18 Nov 2013, 17:34

Published: 18 Nov 2013 17:34 GMT+01:00

Sitting in a classroom in the capital, Klaus Seilwinder eagerly discusses philosophical texts, 10 years of living on the streets etched into his face.

"I have a need for education," he says, joining in with today's debate - Political Philosophy: Law and Justice - at the Homeless University.

The university is a new education project, which started in the German capital with the aim of giving homeless people more of social life, although those with a permanent residence can also sign up.

Seminars on subjects including cookery, bible study and philosophy, are taught by volunteers, some of whom were formerly homeless, and take place in locations across Berlin.

"The university has been well-received," said Maik Eimertenbrink, the communications specialist, who initiated the project, following the model of Megaphon-Uni in Graz, Austria, which offers free lectures and workshops, regardless of people's origin or social background.

Eimertenbrink said that normally passers-by would just give people living on the streets a euro and then walk away, but that many wanted to be challenged and to learn.

"They're not stupid, they have something to offer," said the 37-year-old.

For Seilwinder, the classes have helped him to get his life under control – an alcoholic, he has not had a drink for a year-and-a-half, and meanwhile, he has found a secure home and is receiving Hartz IV unemployment benefits.

"The meetings firstly provide structure," said Seilwinder, who was formerly a professional soldier, and goes not only to the philosophy course, but also to theatre and cookery classes, as well as teaching a class of his own on how to get off the streets.

Story continues below…

Meanwhile, for Mandy, who still lives on the streets after losing her job when she got ill from working 14-hour days, the university does something more than just providing a platform for learning - it gives her something to aim for.

"Eventually, I will think of something, which I can do to turn things around," she said.

READ MORE: Homeless offer tours of their Berlin

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'We'll freeze Turkey talks' warns EU as arrests continue
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a radical purge against anyone suspected of complicity in the coup attempt. Photo: DPA

As Turkish authorities on Friday widened their sweeping post-coup crackdown to the business sector, the European Union's enlargement commissioner implicitly warned that the bloc would freeze Turkey's accession talks if the crackdown violated the rule of law.

I’m ashamed of Germany’s refugee failure: Green leader
Cem Özdemir. Photo: DPA

The head of the Green Party has responded angrily to Angela Merkel’s speech on refugees on Friday, saying he feels “ashamed at Germany’s failure".

German satirists mock Erdogan (and his penis)
Photo: DPA

Tempting fate?

Huge pro-Erdogan rally puts strain on Turkish community
Erdogan supporters at a rally in 2014. Photo: DPA

Tens of thousands of supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plan to rally in Cologne on Sunday, as tensions over Turkey's failed coup have put German authorities on edge.

Opinion
How the Berlin startup scene is wasting its potential
Photo: DPA

"The truth is, there really isn't a truly successful international Berlin startup."

Five years' jail for German darknet weapons dealer
Photo: DPA

He had sold weapons to known Isis-sympathizers and far-right extremists.

Prickly Bavarian calls out cops on hedgehogs' noisy sex
Photo: DPA

Caught in the act.

International or German state school - which one's best?
Photo: DPA

Deciding between sending your child to a German state school or a private international school isn't easy. Max Bringmann has experienced both.

13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make

Sure-fire ways to get off on the wrong foot in the German language.

Captain Schweinsteiger retires from international football
Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

He has won a World Cup with Die Mannschaft and captained them at Euro 2016. On Friday Bastian Schweinsteiger announced his retirement from the national team.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
10,585
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd