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A homeless man sleepling on the streets.

German Homelessness Through African Eyes

People can become homeless almost anywhere in the world, but they are differences in the way the rest of society treats them. A visiting young Ghanaian journalist wanted to find out how they fare in Bonn, Germany.

Arne Baier, 34, from Bonn, Germany, speaks confidently of his plans for the future. A heroin addict, he came into conflict with law, was arrested and jailed.

When he came out of prison Arne had nowhere to live. He sought refuge at the Caritas hostel for the homeless in Bonn. They give him regular meals, a place to sleep and help with his rehabilitation. “When I am healthy again, I would like to find an apartment and, of course, a proper job and just start a new life. That is my plan,” he told DW.

Fellow Caritas inmate Jürgen Dürber has been at the home for just six weeks. Jurgen is 50 and has no family. He also became homeless after he could no longer afford to pay the rent of his apartment and was evicted.

He took to drink and it nearly ruined his life. “I already had to stay in a clinic because of my problems, and I attempted suicide,” he told DW.

Facts and figures about Germany’s homeless

Caritas is a charity run by the Catholic Church and is one of the three institutions that provide care for the homeless in Bonn.

Ricarda Miebach, who works for the Bonn hostel, said there are a variety of reasons for homelessness.

“Sometimes it’s just bad luck, family problems or someone loses their job, has debt problems or becomes ill,” she told DW.

In 2013 Caritas came to the assistance of about 1400 homeless people in Bonn, helping them to reintegrate back into society.

They were able to help both people in the hostel and others living rough on the streets. Miebach said about a 100 people a day come to the Caritas center in Bonn to get something to eat. These also include jobless Africans living in the Bonn area.

Although there are no official government statistics, the Federal Association for Assistance to the Homeless said that 284 thousand people were homeless in Germany in 2012. It predicts that figure will rise to 380 thousand by 2016.

Ricarda Miebach says there are many reasons why people can become homeless in Germany

Homelessness in Ghana

In Ghana, data on homelessness is not readily available. But there is an infirmary in place at Bekwai in the Ashanti Region that provides shelter for homeless people, but only after a court issues an order. This was “mostly for people who the state cannot determine where they are coming from,” John Ankrah, a director of Social Welfare in Ghana told DW. He said that due to constraints, the home can only admit 60 people.

Back in Germany Jürgen views the Caritas hostel as a chance for him to get back on his feet. “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s important. I’m really grateful for all the help I can get here,” he said.

Adopted from all AllAfrica

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