interview Heike Frömke

door zr Rosaliene Israël

“Being a volunteer in Oudezijds also meant sometimes just to be there”

Heike Frömke was het afgelopen jaar een van de twee diakonaal vrijwilligers op Oudezijds 100. Ze vulde haar ‘gap year’ tussen middelbare school en studententijd met wonen en werken binnen onze gemeenschap in het hart van Amsterdam. Heike was onder meer verantwoordelijk voor de linnenkamer, waar alle gemeenschappelijke was wordt gewassen, gestreken en gevouwen. Daarnaast paste ze op onze ‘kleine’ kinderen, die haar liefkozend ‘Heiker’ noemden.

Who are you?
‘I’m Heike, 18 years old, born and grown up in a small town in southern Germany. 18 years of my life I lived in this rural, safe and secure area together with my parents and my older sister. In my free time I love to spend time with my friends and my family – a spontaneous journey, a daytrip, going for a walk and a talk, taking the guitar for a jam session, philosophizing about life, taking photographs or escaping to the nearby mountains. After my final exams last year I decided for making a “gap year” for challenging myself and giving me new points of view.’

How did you get to know Oudezijds 100?
‘During my research for my gap year I read about the Mission House in Amsterdam - a project connected to Oudezijds100 which I was absolutely fascinated about. But after my application and my interview, Iain, the project leader, offered me a place in Oudezijds 100 because he had the opinion that my personality would fit better in Oudezijds! Finally I decided for going there. Looking back I realize that it was the greatest decision I could make!’

What were your main activities as a volunteer in the community?

‘Mainly I was taking care of the lovely kids in the community, coordinating and working in the laundry room, helping with cleaning the house every week, preparing the guest rooms and working in the office. But apart from these ‘official’ tasks in my schedule, being a volunteer in Oudezijds also meant sometimes just to be there, having an open door, being a good neighbor, connecting with people or having a talk in between.’

What were the most important experiences during your stay here with us?
‘That’s a difficult question… maybe it was: living in a community, getting close to sooo many cultures and types of characters, making real friends and connections for a lifetime, feeling home within a couple of weeks at a completely foreign place, volunteering and therefore giving people your time, sometimes giving without taking, sometimes receiving without giving, living independent of my family for the first time in my life, getting used to bigger city life… I am not sure which have been the most important ones; all together made me change a lot.’

In what sense your time at Oudezijds 100 was 'joyful living'?
‘According to the fact that in Oudezijds sooo many people are together at the same time, you’ll always find someone who had a bad day and always someone who had a good day. The same is for you – the other people around you influence you(r mood) a lot. For me personally it was a great experience to live together as a community, to have people around you every day because I feel like I need people around me. It helps me for not being ‘down’ or standing still. In this sense, the people living with me made up a big part of the ‘joyful living’ – joyful living together.’