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Home: Freunde Waldorf

Curative education

In living communities centred on curative education, children with disabilities are educated in special schools. Most of the schools offer a great variety of therapeutic care including physical exercise and movement, horse riding, acting, music, painting and speech therapy, as well as individually tailored therapy programs. The children also have the opportunity to learn skills while working in workshops, gardening or with animals.

Care work with children presents a special challenge. Small children require a great deal of patience and love. The role of the caregivers is to accompany them, step by step, as they learn and develop the fundamentals of daily life, from table manners to personal hygiene.

Creativity, empathy and a love of teaching are of utmost importance in working with children with disabilities. Older children especially need a caregiver whose strong character makes her or him a role model as well. Both physical resilience and psychological stability are a must for volunteers in these positions. After finishing their basic schooling, the children (now young people) transfer to living communities that offer training programs. These emphasise practical experience in a variety of workshops as well as in agriculture and gardening, whereby the productivity of the work is not the main focus. More important is that the young people discover their personal interests and abilities through work, at the same time becoming aware of their own limitations. The volunteer caregivers are there to help them find their own paths to adulthood and self-sufficiency.

Life in this communal sense means that the group begins and ends each day together. Often there are no clear beginning and ending times for the work, since the care and support of the residents in many of the institutions are not considered jobs but rather a part of everyday life. It is this philosophy that makes anthroposophic living communities such unique places.
Obviously, living and working with people from many different backgrounds is not without its difficulties. When social conflicts arise, they nevertheless provide opportunities for learning to compromise and find solutions for the good of everyone in the group. An extended period of time living in these communities is clearly a very special experience.

Working with persons with special needs – regardless of their age and kind of disability – is a considerable physical as well as psychological challenge. Volunteers who would like to spend time living, helping and learning in such institutions must be conscious of this fact. This is not a decision that should be made lightly.

Testimonial: Curative education

Social therapy

In the social therapy institutions, the cooperative social and work atmosphere provides an important foundation for life. The residents with special needs have a wide range of work possibilities to choose from, giving them a true opportunity to plan their own lives in a meaningful way.

These living communities offer a great variety of workshops and common working areas. Most of them also are situated on a large parcel of land used for agricultural purposes. This enables the community to provide a large part of its own milk, meat and vegetables.

The workshops vary according to the individual institutions. Baking, weaving, woodwork, pottery, and candle and papermaking are the most common occupations. Many of the resulting products are then sold and the profits used to benefit the institution.

Along with assisting in the care for the residents and doing general housework and upkeep, volunteers can also be employed in the workshops or in biodynamic agricultural work. Traditional holidays and festivals are naturally celebrated, and outside of these the living communities enjoy a multi-faceted schedule of creative and cultural events, including theatre, concerts and the like.

Life in this communal sense means that the group begins and ends each day together. Often there are no clear beginning and ending times for the work, since the care and support of the residents in many of the institutions are not considered jobs but rather a part of everyday life. It is this philosophy that makes anthroposophic living communities such unique places.
Obviously, living and working with people from many different backgrounds is not without its difficulties. When social conflicts arise, they nevertheless provide opportunities for learning to compromise and find solutions for the good of everyone in the group. An extended period of time living in these communities is clearly a very special experience.

Working with persons with special needs – regardless of their age and kind of disability – is a considerable physical as well as psychological challenge. Volunteers who would like to spend time living, helping and learning in such institutions must be conscious of this fact. This is not a decision that should be made lightly.

Testimonial: Social therapy

Waldorf education

In the institutions for curative education and in Waldorf schools, a good to excellent knowledge of German is absolutely necessary, and the youngest volunteers are typically at least 20 years old. Waldorf schools and curative education centres often accept only applicants with a broad teaching background and who are former Waldorf school students. Although only a few volunteer places are available, each year we receive a large number of applications for educational positions. For this reason, please let us know if you are also willing to volunteer in another area of service. We especially recommend this in the event your profile does not match an institution’s specific requirements or if all educational positions have already been filled.

Homes for the elderly

A further field of work in our volunteer service is the anthroposophy-based care for the elderly. Here the volunteers assist alongside other workers in a home for the elderly. These homes are institutions in which older people live who require differing levels of care and assistance managing their everyday lives. The roles of the volunteers here can be quite varied, ranging from helping with personal hygiene to planning leisure activities. A great amount of patience and gentle empathy are necessary in this vital work, accompanying these “senior citizens” in the final phase of their life journey.

A home for the elderly in the anthroposophic sense is a community of care. The caregivers are sensitive to the importance of providing treatment and care holistically; that is to say, they not only tend to the physical health of the residents, but also see to it that they feel well in their surroundings. An atmosphere of well-being and security is created in which the older people are encouraged to take initiative in their lives. Social contact and new encounters play an important role in this context. Together festivals and holidays are celebrated, as well as cultural events, concerts and other activities.

Testimonial: Care for the elderly

Biodynamic agriculture

Yet another area of volunteer work is biodynamic agriculture. This agricultural movement, founded in 1924, has its roots in the “Agriculture Course” of Rudolf Steiner. Today there are 1400 private farmers in Germany working about 50,000 hectares of biodynamically managed farmland.

Those working in this field of agriculture see their farms as circles of life. Thus the crop yield or production levels are not their primary goal, but rather responsible treatment of the earth and their livestock. Instead of artificial chemicals and pesticides, special plant, quartz or manure-based preparations are used for fertilising, composting or pest control. As biodynamic agriculture represents a holistic view of nature, its practitioners seek to achieve a continual balance with their environment. A healthy and sustainable agriculture is possible only when the earth’s energy is not only taken in the form of crops, but is also replenished by periods of rest and the use of enriching natural preparations.

Volunteers interested in biodynamic agriculture will naturally spend a great deal of time outdoors – in summer as well as winter! A typical day begins very early, usually with tending the animals. The type of work is determined largely by the season and is quite physically demanding. It is possible, however, to combine agriculture with a second area of work. Since most of the social therapy institutions maintain gardens and/or farmland, volunteers have the chance to share in agricultural work as well as caring for the residents of the living community.

Testimonial: Biodynamic agriculture

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