A Partnership Between the Elderly and Students Where Both Profit

Ursula Jetter and Ann Karungari Wangui
Ursula Jetter and Ann Wangui Karungari

If you’re about to join Uni in one of the major towns in Germany, you not only face the challenge of not finding affordable housing but also the cost of living in some of these major cities. A Kenyan student shared on how challenging it is to find accommodation for foreign students, but that was solved by a program in that area that helped students.

Residents in big cities especially University cities who’re passionate about students have been forced to be creative from house-sitting for students to housing students in nursing homes for seniors. But another is this “new” one from Neuhausen, Wohnen für Hilfe (Accommodation for Help) was started in 1996 but was introduced in Munich earlier this year.

The idea behind it is a student gets a room in exchange of help. Many elderly people live alone in large houses and need help in many daily activities while many students can’t find affordable accommodation but have enough energy to do daily activities. Each square meter equals an hour of work. The work includes, going for shopping, cleaning or just hanging out or going for walks with the “host/ess”.

One such pair who’s taken part in the program is Ann Wangui Karungari (24) and Ursula Jetter (84) from Munich. Ann moved to Munich when she was 19. Last year as she lived in a squeezed room with a friend, she heard of the program and subsequently met Ursula. At the time she was doing her Ausbildung in Geriatric Care which she completed three months ago, she hopes to study medicine.

The pair have learnt to work and live harmoniously together but in the beginning it wasn’t all rosy. Ursula remembers that Ann didn’t have a real sense of conservation, she’d take very long showers such that Ursula had no hot water when she showered in the evening;  when it comes to cooking, last winter Ann cooked with a lot of onions whose scent filled the whole house or her love for Mukimo, a dish where she cooks potatoes and peas in the same pot. Ursula and Ann agreed to cook their own food. Ursula adds though that Ann is a great house mate, she’s very quiet and rarely has visitors other than a few girlfriends and her Indian boyfriend.

Ann and Ursula though have changed a few things in the program, with Ursula only requesting help from Ann for 4-5hrs a month instead of 28hrs which is equivalent to the size of Ann’s room.

Because Ursula is losing her confidence on the road, she hopes to give Ann a few driving lessons before Ann leaves. Ann got her driving licence in Germany but has never driven, maybe they can have a few classes.

If you’re in Neuhausen and interested in the program, you can get in touch with:

Brigitte Tauer

Seniorentreff Neuhausen

Tel: (089) 16 80 60 (Do 10-13 Uhr, Fr 12-13.30 Uhr)

E-Mail: bt@seniorentreff-neuhausen.de

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