What constitutes your association?
There are many associations in Hamburg that do outstanding work. SchlauFox is one of them. In just eight years, the association has managed to become one of the biggest educational sponsors in the city. How did SchlauFox master this? The ingredients for it were:
people who could not be more diverse in their personalities
different countries of origin, fields of study and occupational fields
similar ideologies and anthropology views
candor, the keenness to debate, perseverance
a common goal: To use one’s own abilities, to guide young people on their educational journey.
What issues does your association stand for?
SchlauFox promotes education and fights for educational justice and equal opportunities. The association is politically free and religiously unaffiliated. Besides, it is important to us to incite many people to volunteer.
With what aim did you found the company?
SchlauFox was founded because there are still too many children and adolescents in Hamburg who don’t have enough support. As a result of that, they often cannot use their potential and fail to reach their best possible. Aim is, to oppose these injustices within the bounds of possibility and help young people to more academic success.
Which projects are you currently involved in?
Our projects are diverse. Currently six projects are planned at SchlauFox.
With the Plietschen Kinderküche, an awareness for better nutrition is created with cooking classes and other activities.
With JEA! (the german abbreviation for: A degree for everyone), the association accompanies adolescents to their first degree with subject-specific tutoring and coaching.
Within the scope of Ankerlicht, honorary volunteers act as mentors for adolescent refugees and help them make the transition from international preparatory class to mainstream class.
With our school guidance programme STAR, we enable students with behavioral difficulties to master their daily school life.
Varia Kultur is about an intercultural book project. The children and adolescents use means of art to deal with their environment, get to know their neighborhood and discover their family stories. At the end of it, they’ll be publishing their own book with their results.
How many people are working for you, and how can one become part of the team?
Five full-time employees, an honorary employee, trainees and federal volunteers as well as approx. 180 male and female honorary employees are involved. Together, we’re fully committed to helping socioeconomically deprived children and adolescents with worse starting opportunities, to use their potential.
What tasks does the association usually have?
SchlauFox, as an association almost works like a midsize company, the tasks are accordingly. Many single steps take place from the concept of a project to the piloting stage to implementation. The running business is also made up of project-, personnel- and event management. At it, it is necessary to recruit volunteers, find cooperation partners, maintain contacts and acquire subsidies. The association offers regular, advanced trainings for its honorary volunteers, which are planned and must be implemented. We have to sometimes check the quality of our work after our own and sometimes also foreign standards. Schlaufox’s work is all the more complex, because we offer completely diverse educational sponsors. Only like this, can we meet the various needs of the children and adolescents.
Do you organize/participate in events to gain fame?
We don’t organize any big events to gain fame, but we use available means and media to constantly be present or to become more known.
We are active on our own website and on social media. We link up regularly with other Nonprofit organisations, with charities and institutions of the Hamburg/German educational infrastructure. We also participate in events, e.g.: in the past we’ve been active on block parties and also take part in African cultural festivals (e.g., Alafia) etc. We now have a big network, which increases constantly. That’s how we make sure that those, who need support, can find their way to us via schools, their parents, and youth facilities. On the other hand, that’s also our way to incite people to volunteer.
What do you want to accomplish in the future?
Our educational promotion work is very successful. We reach more than 400 children and adolescents per year and are very pleased about it. But we want to guide and benefit more children and adolescents with our work. That’s only possible, if we have enough resources. In addition to that, we’re hoping for more wonderful financial support from charities, private donors, the participation of the authority in the project costs, but also by endowed honorings. On the other hand we need to find many people who want to volunteer with us, want to support a young person or a small group regularly and improve themselves in advanced training and workshops. People, who find joy in supporting a young person or a small group regularly and want to develop themselves in advanced trainings and workshops. And we also need spatial capacities, because our growth is essentially dependent on that. At the moment, we’re in need of cheap office premises, in which a total of seven to nine people have the space to exercise their work. So our specific goal this year, is to find suitable office premises and manage the relocation. In the long run, we’re planning a “SchlauFox-Bau“ :An educational center, where we can offer and coordinate all our projects. But there’s still some time until then.
How do you contribute to a better german-african relation/communication?
I already do this by being a public person. Many citizens have a very short falling view on the African continent and a negative view on African people, who live in Germany. A lot of people still think of us as backward and less gifted. People like me show a different side of Africans. I am proud of my roots and the cultural pieces and values, I learned as a child and I’m still living by. I also emit that in public. I am a role model for young people, above all, for children and youngsters who are from Africa, but were born here. I would like to show them that they can reach ANYTHING, really ANYTHING if THEY only want it and are also ready to absolutely do ANYTHING for it .
Many African people appeal to me in my function as a teacher, if they feel overwhelmed with the school system or if their children are having difficulties at school. These are mainly mothers, but sometimes I’ve also had consultations with fathers. It is partly hard for them to understand, what the schools in Germany/Hamburg require from them. Above all, they do not understand that the schools have difficulties with their children and cannot master this themselves. When I was a child, my parents or grandparents never went to my school to discuss anything. And they definitely were never called to the school, because I had messed up. The school had its duties and had to fulfill it alone. The parents had their duties. Everyone did their job in the best way possible, nobody interfered with the other. In Germany, parents have to go to their child’s school and participate in Parent-Teacher Associations, if their child misbehaves. And even worse: The school does home visits, e.g if the child hasn’t been present in a while. Here the worlds are a little bit more blended. This is done, to foster children in the best way possible and to challenge them. But for parents, who come from a different (upbringing and educational) culture, it is sometimes simply incomprehensible. I can mediate there, because I’m familiar with both.
Besides, I sometimes notice in conversations I have with my compatriots, that we Ghanaians are pretty frugal people. We are enormously pliable, resilient, but also frugal. This leads to us quickly settling for less and not striving for higher things. This is not good for us. We should demand more, from ourselves, from society and from our children. We shouldn’t just accept the first-best job we get, but continue to educate ourselves, focus on learning the language and strive for jobs in higher positions. And our children should notice daily, that it is not enough for them and us, if they bring mediocre marks home.
It is important for us to actively show interest in their school activities, that we are present, if necessary. Only like this, can we get ahead and be of better guidance for our children. I discuss these and other topics, over and over again with other African people.
At what age did you come to Germany? What perceptions did you have about Germany? Were they fulfilled or disappointed?
I came to Germany at the age of 10. The only image I had of the country – because many had warned me about it – was that it is very cold here. I wasn’t disappointed . Even til this day, I still have difficulties with the cold and above all with the darkness, up here in the north. Even after more than 25 years, I still haven’t got used to the climate. If I decide one day, to leave the country, then really only because I cannot stand the climate. But sometimes, I do appreciate the four seasons. When nature comes back to life after winter…that’s quite magical.
Which obstacles did you face during your time at school?
To list the difficulties I encountered at school would break the mold. To be brief, there was something of everything. Starting with big difficulties in language, due to which I was generally attested with a lack of cognitive abilities, in addition to hostility of all kinds because of the way I looked or my skin color. I was called ,,Sonic“ by many of my classmates, do you know that Super Mario character? – Because of my coarse hair which often stuck out. I thought it awful and really suffered from it for years. And I will never forget my first day of secondary school, when we were sitting in the assembly hall for enrollment. In the rows behind me, there were some boys sitting there, who threw stones at me and called „Hey Nigga“. I had tears in my eyes the whole time and would have liked to run out. But I didn’t do that, I didn’t want to give them that much power over me.
And even up to university, I failed to receive the same recognition for equal achievements over and over again – even in form of marks. It is no delusion when I say, that as a black girl, I had to accomplish a lot more with some teachers and professors for the same marks. All these and other forms of discrimination are not a thing of the past. They are experienced every single day by many people.
How did you handle racism?
It is difficult to give a general answer on that. It was varied. Sometimes I defended myself actively. As a 10-year-old child in Germany, I simply went off on my classmates and beat them up, if they insulted me or threw objects at me. Though I was often smaller than them, my strength wasn’t to be underestimated. Of course I already knew at that time, that that wasn’t the best solution, but I could not defend myself with words, because I didn’t speak the language well enough. Later on, I simply stole their thunder by giving a smart remark. However, sometimes one must learn how take it calmly. There are situations in which talking can’t help and where one should also not defend oneself if beaten up e.g, if five strong men attack me and I know, that no matter what I do, I’ll lose against them. Then it is wrong to risk my life and provoke them with smart remarks. I shut up and hoped that their fury – and whatever triggered it– vanished, when they pushed me around.
Last but not least, I also had friends and total strangers, who stood by me if I was treated with hostility. It helped me a lot in such situations, not to be alone.
How do you help children in Ghana, who also want to go to school?
Since 2001, I’ve been accompanying different children in forms of sponsoring. I bear all the costs that incur (like school materials) and support their families, so that they also let their children go to school . When I left Ghana, I wanted to go back someday to build a school. I’ve distanced myself from that in the last few years. There are already many schools in Ghana: state and even more private ones. I don’t know whether the country needs even more schools. And if it does, then really somewhere between several small villages, so that the children don’t have it far to school. More importantly, I want to enable apprenticeships for adolescents, since their educational journey seems to end after graduating school. So potentials are not used any further. That should change. I would like to be more involved in this area.
Which chances did you have here, that you didn’t have in Ghana?
I could go to school for free here. I got to eat several meals a day here. I could do sportive activities in my spare time. That’s what made the difference. It doesn’t seem much, but in the end it was. If all children in this world had these possibilities, they would get very far. Some even further than me. At the end, one must then only motivate individuals to use the opportunities he / she has.
What advice would you give a young immigrant?
„I would like to tell you something: YOU are responsible for YOUR life and no one else. Not your parents, not your teachers, no one else. When you don’t make it, it won’t get you anywhere in the end, to blame it on some other people or on your childhood. Many people in the world didn’t have it easy in their childhood. So what? If you want to achieve something, you have to hit the road. Use everything that is at your disposal, look for two people who believe in you and let them guide you. If you have a goal, don’t lose it out of sight. Obstacles will be put in your way, that’s life. But believe in yourself, believe that you can achieve anything. And then go for it!“