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On Giving and Giving

On Ascension Day this year, I met three girls in Bremen on the street who were playing music and selling parts of their property. We started talking and I offered them to tell their story on the igdra space blog and podcast. In July we met again to write the story together. They asked me to write them down for them. Here you can see the result:

How it started

"I was sitting there on the street playing my ukulele, when a man threw a 1€ piece at me from a car!" says 11-year-old Mirke and still seems to be completely surprised by this moment. The man probably had no idea that with his act he had sown the seeds for a non-profit project to help the homeless.

At home, Mirke told the story to her big sister, Runa. She wanted to open a street market anyway with her many old toys and clothes. And so it happened that on a Sunday in the summer of 2022, together with their friend Vida, they had the idea of combining the street music of Mirke with selling their stuff. So they sat down together on the street in front of the shop Rat & Tat, played music and asked passers-by if they wanted to buy things from them.

The place was probably well chosen, because with the first money collected they noticed that they did not need the money themselves. Rather, they wanted to do something good with "advice and action" and decided to donate the money they received to the homeless in Bremen. So, the idea was born. Vida, who loves to make things with her hands, had the idea not only to sell "old stuff and music", but to also make useful things like bookmarks or just beautiful things, like colorful ponpons and sell them to people. On two days they already made 90€!

What do they plan to do with the money?

"We divide it into three," Runa said. One part goes to the "soup angels", where homeless people receive food for free, part goes to the "meeting place" where homeless people can find shelter and wash themselves and the third part the three want to personally hand over to the homeless.

Why do they want to help the homeless?

"There is not much we can do for poor people in Africa. But we can help the poor people here in Bremen, where we live." And homeless people have known the three since they were born. Their parents have already shown them how to help the homeless and people in general if they can. And Runa in particular was already as a small child known for her pronounced instinct for helping and protecting. She often stood up for the weak and since she gets pocket money, she has been buying sandwiches for the homeless from time to time. Her sister also learned the pleasures of sharing at an early age, even abroad without speaking the language, she gave a street cleaner a piece of her purchased ice cream.

Vida seems rather calm next to the two sisters and seems to be the creative source of ideas for the group of three. In the future, she also wants to crochet and sell her artworks.

All three have already learned a lot for life in such a short time, which some people probably do not learn in a lifetime. "It always feels so good when you're helping someone," Runa says. "Making others happy with my help feels like I'm growing wings." But we quickly come to the motivations of helping and talk about the expectations attached to it.

It becomes clear that the three know themselves well and never forget their self-protection. So at the beginning they did not want to sit on the big street and be "gaced at" by the passers-by. No, they looked for a sheltered place and slowly felt their way forward. First felt into the new situation. Runa also admitted that she is sometimes afraid of the homeless when they are not very inviting on the street and beg for money. But one of her most important messages to people is, "You don't have to be afraid of the homeless. They are normal people. Just people who have misfortune. And with a smile and some money, you can make them happier." The three of them have already noticed the impact of a smile themselves. Because they were most affected by the people who walked past them without smiling at least once or not even taking notice of them with a short glance. "Who else do you think feels similar?" asked Runa's and Mirke's mother? "The homeless themselves" she continues. "They, too, certainly often suffer when people ignore them and don't even see them." The girls look thoughtful and understanding.

But the three are also a little hurt when they help people and they are ungrateful. So they don't live altruism. They act to be rewarded with a good feeling. Something that many adults do not want to admit. And also their business acumen in general has grown through their action. So they found that other people also like to give more money if they know that it is for a good cause. So, Vida said that she offered her old sneakers, which had cost 30€, for 8€ and the lady who bought them even gave them 10€ for it. "We don't want to impose anything on people. But by not only asking for donations, but also offering something, they give more than they would have given just for donations or just for the things we sell!" They want to personally hand over the money to the people of the "soup angels" and the "meeting place". "They should know where it comes from."

The three girls understood the system of social entrepreneurship very quickly. In the end, however, Runa says again: "Above all, I want to give the other people how much they can make them a great joy with a smile and just seeing and noticing other people." Runa, Vida and Mirke fit wonderfully into the igdra space. For them, too, it is primarily about encounters with other people at eye level and about making all our relationships with each other positive, conscious, inviting and with a smile.

Story from Mirke, Vida and Runa

Written by Nora

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