As long as we see the physical and emotional maltreatment of the youngest, weakest and most innocent - the children - in societies around the world we will strive to help them! Our relief assignments offer wounded and sick girls and boys, who cannot be treated in their war-torn or conflict-ridden native countries, a chance of survival. And we offer help for self-help with projects in the homelands of the children.
The Peace Village was founded in 1967 and takes care of over 500 children aged between 2 and 12 every year, flying them to Germany for treatment as they do not have access to adequate medical care in their home country. The regional focus is currently on Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Angola. The sick children are treated in German hospitals and return home when they have been returned to health. In addition to the donations, which are mainly needed for the flights and accommodation of the small patients in the orphanages owned and run by the organisation, hundreds of volunteers all over Germany support the work of the organisation, e.g. by collecting discarded clothes for the children or by looking after the children during their hospitalisation or at the Peace Village where they live before returning home.
The most normal thing in the world
Kunta was born in Banjul, Gambia, with a complicated intestinal malformation requiring paediatric surgery. This malfunction made it impossible for her to have a normal bowel movement.
Unfortunately, there was no treatment for her condition in her home country. Although she had already undergone surgery in Gambia, the little girl had recurring episodes of strong pain and ongoing problems with what is "the most normal thing in the world" for any healthy person. As a result, she felt too ashamed to go to school.
As a "solution", Kunta underwent an ostomy which caused her considerable problems.
In Germany, doctors encounter this condition only very rarely in such a pronounced form. Friedensdorf (Peace Village) organised several surgeries for Kunta in a specialist hospital and all of them were successful. After intensive physiotherapy (toilet training), Kunta can now go to the toilet alone like anybody does. Her greatest desire, being able to go to school with her friends, has finally come true.
In addition, Kunta is very happy that she can now eat whatever she likes. She misses preparing fresh or dried fish together with her mother and little brother.
Friedensdorf (Peace Village) has been actively involved in Gambia since 2012. It is not a war zone suffering from the direct or indirect consequences of a violent conflict, but it is still a troubled region that cannot develop due to a lack of resources.
The favourite game "Oq terak , ko’k terak"
One year before Shaknoza came to the Peace Village (Friedensdorf) in Germany, she had an accident involving hot oil. Her movements were strongly limited due to scar contractures on her throat/neck, shoulders and elbows.
She suffered from strong functional impairment due to her burns and was barely able to eat, wash, dress or go to the toilet on her own. Helping her family with household chores was absolutely impossible since she could hardly move her arms.
Some of her friends shunned her since she was no longer able to play their favourite game of "Oq terak, ko'k terak" due to the fact that her head and arms were more or less immobile. "Oq terak, ko'k terak" is played by a minimum of 10 children: 5 children in one group and 5 children in another group. This is how it is done: The group members hold hands, thereby forming a human chain. One of the players runs against this chain and if he or she breaks it, he or she is the winner.
The family, which lives in rather poor conditions, undertook a voyage of nearly 700 kilometres to go to the capital Tashkent. This is where the headquarters of the Uzbek partner organisation of Friedensdorf (Peace Village) are located. Shaknoza then flew from Tashkent to Germany for treatment.
When a field team of Friedensdorf (Peace Village) visited her in Uzbekistan this year, the little girl proudly showed them how well she can now move her arms and head. "Oq terak, ko'k terak" is once again her favourite game (and she is one of the most skilled players).
A blessing in disguise for Muhidin
Even before he had completed his first year of life, fate treated little Muhidin quite unkindly. The boy suffered a very complicated fracture in his left leg and a persistent inflammation in the knee joint. He underwent three surgeries at home in Tajikistan – with the result that the inflammation was successfully treated. The leg, however, remained stiff.
The child learned to walk using walking aids. Muhidin was not deterred by his disability and even enjoyed going to school in his home town of Kulob in the Pamir mountains approximately 200 kilometres south-east of the capital, Dushanbe. However, he was always in pain and envied his friends when they were playing football and he could only watch from the sidelines.
One fateful day, "Dekadelsol – Derewnja Mira", the Tajik partner organisation of "Peace Village", introduced Muhidin to some German staff members who were on a mission in the Central Asian country. The medical report was taken to Germany where the treatment options in local hospitals were reviewed and, finally, Muhidin's name was added to the "Z" list. Z stands for the German term for acceptance. In August 2013, the child who was nine years old at this time and some other children from Central Asia, Afghanistan and the Caucasus were flown to Germany. He took with him his own and the hope of his entire family that the surgery would be successful and he would finally be able to walk and run properly. The physicians in the hospital in Marl, North Rhine-Westphalia, would make this dream a reality. In October of the same year, they rectified Mudahin's leg and stabilised it with an external brace. The prognosis was positive and the optimistic little boy's trip home was scheduled for the next intervention in February of 2014. But fate again threw a "curve ball". At the end of February, Muhidin caught the "pin pons" – that's what the children in the peace village call the chickenpox.
The scheduled removal of the brace had to be cancelled and the much anticipated trip home had to be postponed by at least six months for the next but one humanitarian mission. That's what they all thought. But this became a blessing in disguise for the plucky little Tajik. When the chickenpox and the leg brace had finally disappeared in March 2014, a Peace Village team was again getting ready for a mission – and the first stop was to be Tajikistan. For Muhidin and two other children, this meant they would be able to go home. A connecting flight cancelled in Istanbul and the long hours of waiting in the airport did not dampen the children's joy. Having arrived in Tajikistan, Muhidin ran into his mother's open arms who just held on to him. From then on, he had only one goal: To finally play football with his pals – being without walking aids for the first time in his life.
A particularly normal girl
Poldi is 10 years old and her favourite game is "Man, don’t get annoyed" (a German board game similar to Ludo). When she plays with other children, she always looks for the yellow counters, because yellow is her favourite colour. She also wins more often that way. "It’s nice to win," she says, "but sometimes you lose, too." That’s just the way it is. "Poldi" – that’s her nickname – has no need to get annoyed about it.
This is not Leopoldina’s first stay at the Peace Village. The charity brought her to Germany for the first time in May 2007, as part of the 40th Angola relief operation. At that time, she was plagued by a bone inflammation (osteomyelitis) in her right arm, which could not be treated in her home country and had already made her arm fairly stiff. Along with about 70 other children, she came to Germany to receive medical help here and - like all the other children - she had to leave her parents and siblings behind. Even though Poldi knows from experience that, after her treatment, she would soon return to her homeland where her family would joyfully await her, the time spent apart is nonetheless painful.
Poldi knows exactly what she wants: that is to see her family again soon. They live in Angola, in the province of Bié to be precise. Angola is located in South West Africa and Poldi is currently in Europe - in Germany - in the Ruhr - Oberhausen - in the Peace Village - in the learning house. This is similar to a school, but really only vaguely similar and certainly quite different from the school in Poldi’s home town.
Poldi seems to have found a good way to deal with the situation away from home. Of course, she already learned German a long time ago. At ten years old and on her third stay abroad, by now Poldi is already a professional. Because of this, she also knows how the smaller children feel when they arrive in this strange country of Germany without mum and dad and at first know only the most necessary sign language for "hungry", "thirsty", "pain" and "wee-wee". Poldi can then act as an intermediary. She interprets and takes care of the children on the long flight and during the acclimatisation period in the village.
When she arrived for her most recent stay, she said that her arm felt good again. It only remained for the metal plate, which was inserted into her arm at the end of 2009 to increase stability and allow the bones that had been severely affected by inflammation to grow again, to be removed. She had no fear of the operation; she already knew very well what happens in the hospital.
Poldi's self-assurance has paid off. The metal plate was successfully removed a few weeks ago and she waltzed through the subsequent physiotherapy with her eyes closed, so to speak. A good role model and motivation for the little ones. Those who truly cooperate get better faster and the shorter is the waiting time until they return to their parents, siblings and friends, who eagerly await them at home.
Poldi is proof of this, because early in November she flew back as part of the 49th Angola aid mission, accompanied by some of "her" little protégés from the Peace Village. As she took her leave, Poldi beamed and waved - a quite normal girl, indeed a very normal girl!
To make you grow big and strong...
When Nematullah arrived at the Peace Village in August 2011, he weighed only five kilograms and that with a size of 86 centimetres. Too small and too light for a boy who was said to be six years old. Nematullah looked much younger. However, his exact birth date remained unknown - like many children from Afghanistan. They have no birth certificates, no passports. Nematullah’s passport was only issued for admission to Germany; his date of birth was estimated. Like many other children at the Peace Village, he can now celebrate his birthday on 31 December.
Nematullah, who lives with his parents and three sisters in Afghanistan's Wardak province, west of Kabul, suffered from a narrowing of the oesophagus, which could not be treated in Afghanistan. The result: he could only eat liquid food, lost weight, his general health deteriorated and his body growth slowed dramatically. The doctors in Germany confirmed that Nematullah was significantly underdeveloped; his biological age did not correspond to his level of growth.
To allow him to again eat normally and stimulate his growth, he received hormones and oesophageal dilatation. In this multiple treatment performed under general anaesthesia, Nematullah’s oesophagus was dilated little by little, so that the little patient was initially able to ingest paste-like food, followed by an increasingly solid diet.
Like the "Very Hungry Caterpillar" from the famous children's book, Nematullah fed himself in the Peace Village kitchen and visibly put on weight. Salad, potatoes and fish fingers - no problem for the little protégé who, with the pounds, also gained in self-assurance and courage. If it was taking too long to distribute lunch, with a raised index finger he would pipe up: "Me nothing yet!!"
Also with regard to his clothes, Nematullah increasingly won his right to a say. It should be the "Bob the Builder" sweater if you please, and no other. No question then, that the said sweater would be seen wandering around inside the blue Peace Village jacket, which the little Afghan packed before he and 67 other returnees, including 43 from Afghanistan, began their journey home.
A jigsaw puzzle also travelled with him, because by now this had become Nematullah’s favourite activity. Without difficulty, he managed a 60-piece puzzle with the "Little Polar Bear" as a motif in no time at all. With outstretched tongue and refusing to be distracted by the other children, quite expertly he would first set the borders, then piece together the inner parts, thus whiling away many an hour as he waited to go home.
Six months passed between his arrival in Germany and the date of his departure. A time during which the little man with the mischievous smile had many new experiences, got to know two hospitals, the Peace Village and many other children from his homeland as well as from other countries, became the "Jigsaw King", lost his baby teeth and still was able to double his weight.
BLZ: 365 500 00
IBAN: DE59 3655 0000 0000 1024 00
KTN: 111 153
BLZ: 352 510 00
IBAN: DE84 3525 1000 0000 1111 53