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Heidelberg International Women's Club - Social Cultural Charitable

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  • Mon, April 30, 2018 10:00 | Christine Funke (Administrator)

    The fourth Monthly Meeting of the Heidelberg IWC took place in an April evening and featured the founders of the Heidelberg Women's March, Dr. Kristen Nawrotzki, Melisa Jaenisch and Veronika Froehlich, as our guest speakers.

    Around 20 people joined the Meeting to get updates on Club news, to network and to hear the speakers. Vice President Laura Bobanovic opened and led the Meeting and then handed over the spotlight to the three dynamic women.

    Heidleberg Women's March Melisa, Kristen and Veronkica Heidelberg IWCKristen, Melisa and Veronika each shared their own story of how they got involved with the Women's March. Kristen, for example, talked about her state of shock at Trump's win for the U.S. Presidency, and they all agreed that while they couldn't attend the Women's March in Washington, D.C., they felt that their home country of Germany needed them to stand up, turn feelings in action and organize their own Women's March in Heidelberg.

    Getting going took a lot of work: from getting permission from the city and reaching out to people and marketing the event, to having to change the route due to the large number of people expected to attend.

    So, on January 20th, 2017 they walked with close to 1,000 women, men and children from Friedrich-Ebert-Platz to Marktplatz in Heidelberg. Many attendees expressed their gratitude to be able to express their feelings through the march.

    Heidelberg Women's March Organizers 2017In 2018, they organized the 2nd Heidelberg Women's March with around 500 - 800 people attending. They've also helped organized other demonstrations including "Stand with Standing Rock" and "March for Science." They organize a Huddle once a month to keep in touch with women from various organizations who want to talk and raise awareness about different issues affecting women. You can also join the Huddle online through a medium designed for exchange, mentorship and support among local activists. Look for the "Heidelberg Huddle" group on Facebook and ask to join; curiosity is enough, no commitment or expertise required!

    Additionally, Melisa has started an initiative to remove gender labels from the public libraries in Heidelberg, which you can follow on Facebook on the page "Stop Genderlabeling of Books at the Heidelberg City Library". While those labeled books still exist, their numbers are decreasing.

    After their talk, there was a lively discussion among the guest speakers and the attendees, which concluded around 22:00 that night! 

    We say a big thank you to Kristen, Melisa and Veronika for joining us and inspiring us to speak up and take action when we want to see change.

    Inspired to join the Women's March organizers or just want to stay up to date on their activities? Check out and like their Facebook page @HDWomensMarch or email them at hdwomensmarch@gmail.com

  • Fri, March 23, 2018 11:30 | Christine Funke (Administrator)

    This week, the members of the Heidelberg IWC joined together to make history for the Club.

    On Monday, March 19th, members gathered at the Monthly Meeting where simultaneously an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) was held to vote for the following things:

    • to ratify the HIWC Constitution
    • to elect the Executive Board, comprised of the President, Vice President and Treasurer
    • to join FAWCO

    Heidelberg International Women's Club Members vote at the EGMThe EGM was opened by HIWC Founder and EGM Chairwoman Christine Funke. Attendance was taken with 10 members attending and directly after the voting started. On all three items, the votes were unanimous in support and 2 write-in ballots were also noted. A celebratory feeling filled the room; it was an exciting day for the Club!

    Later on Wednesday, March 21st, 8 members met at a notary’s office in Heidelberg’s Old Town to sign the Constitution as part of the application to become an official association (Verein). The three newly elected Board members, Christine Funke, Laura Bobanovic and Barbara Bellosa, signed the application form, and it’ll be sent to the District Court of Mannheim for processing.

    Heidelberg IWC Members Signing the ConstitutionWith a lot of work done to prepare for this week, the Heidelberg IWC is in a good position to becoming an official charitable association, so that it can operate legally and take care of its members and others in the community.

    Congratulations Heidelberg IWC!

  • Tue, March 20, 2018 10:30 | Christine Funke (Administrator)

    The Monthly Meeting on March 19th was a bit of a special one in the Heidelberg IWC’s (short) history. Along with the usual Meeting agenda (chatting, Club updates and a guest speaker), the Members held an Extraordinary General Meeting to vote on the Constitution, the Executive Board and to join FAWCO. Read more about the EGM and the HIWC making history.

    After the EGM finished, Founder and newly-elected President Christine Funke gave the Club updates, mostly about upcoming events. After that, the group of 14 took a break before guest speaker, Jenny Ciucci, began her talk.

    Heidelberg IWC Members with Guest Speaker Jenny CiucciJenny, a Heidelberg IWC Member, told us a little bit about her and her journey to starting a nonprofit organization in northern Cambodia helping children get an education. She is an Italian American who grew up in Switzerland, and after spending a few years in Thailand, she moved to Cambodia to work with a local NGO supporting women and girls with HIV/AIDS in Battambang, near the Thai border.

    Though she was working with these women and children in the community, there was still a lower class of children she calls the “invisible” children. They are so poor and vulnerable that even many groups don’t want to engage with them at all. After spending two years there, she had to make the decision whether to return back to Europe and find a “normal” job or stay and continue the work she was actively engaged in.

    With her friend, Andrew Wolff, they wanted to set up a nonprofit to support other nonprofits and organizations working in the community. However, after doing research on these groups, they realized they couldn’t in good faith support them with their time, expertise or money. Therefore, they started their own nonprofit, Children’s Future International (CFI), to work with the most vulnerable children and families in their adopted home.

    Jenny Ciucci and girls of Children's Future InternationalJenny told us how the organization supports over 270 children and their families, with not only education, but housing security, agricultural support, and emergency intervention when a child goes missing (most likely trafficked into child labor or prostitution). Their social worker staff works with the children individually, and she shared with us multiple success stories of children who have been brought into their system and are graduating at school and thriving in life. Many of them come back to CFI as interns and want to continue doing work in their community. As for the future, Jenny sees their growing network and influence in the community, region and nationally as the key to sustainable support for the children of Cambodia.

    Thank you Jenny! Your wonderful talk and beautiful photos conveyed the passion you have for your work. We look forward to supporting you and the children you work with!


  • Mon, March 05, 2018 11:00 | Christine Funke (Administrator)

    Braving sub-zero temperatures and high winds, about 15 people gathered for the Heidelberg IWC’s 2nd Monthly Meeting. With about half members and half guests, the atmosphere was friendly and warm and a lot was discussed.

    Founder Christine Funke opened the Meeting with her ideas and hopes for the Club and then gave some important updates and news for the guests and members. Most notably, the Club will be applying for official association (eingetragener Verein) status in the coming weeks. This will legitimize the Club and allow the Board to open a Club bank account and get insurance for member activities. Additionally, the HIWC will be joining FAWCO, an international federation of independent women’s clubs and groups all around the world. There is a lot happening with this Club!

    Heidelberg IWC Members and Juliah Rais-MorresAfter the updates, the guest speaker, Juliah Rais-Morres, gave her talk about her life living abroad, her work and passion for cooking, and her latest venture, Cooking for HOPE. She left Malaysia at 18 to study landscape architecture in the US, and after meeting her now-German husband there (he was an exchange student at the same university) and not feeling the same back at home, she moved to Germany where she has been for over 28 years. She noted her homesickness when first leaving home and the complicated life of living outside your home country, which many HIWC Members can relate to.

    In Germany as a side business, she started catering Malaysian cuisine for events. She opened a successful Malaysian restaurant, Serai, and when she decided to close it she started looking for ways combine her passion for food with helping the refugees who were flooding into Germany. At the same time, her son was on an around-the-world trip and she wondered daily, what is he eating? And does he have enough to eat? These two things encouraged her to start Cooking for HOPE to engage with and look after unaccompanied refugee minors, mostly boys, who have settled in Germany.

    With Cooking for HOPE, she gets the boys involved in cooking for events, teaches them how to cook for themselves, and takes them out for activities or day trips. They celebrate birthdays together, go bowling, cook lunches for refugees, and visit art exhibitions. She wants them to know that there is someone here in Germany who cares about them and is looking out for them. She encourages them to work hard to learn German and try hard in school so that they may be able to earn a residence permit to stay in Germany after they turn 18. Juliah has become like a mother to them, many who don’t have any family back home.

    Heidelberg IWC Monthly Meeting February 2018Through food, drink, money and utensil donations from charities and groups in the community, Juliah plans to continue to work with these young boys and be a guiding force in their lives. Attendees at the Meeting were engaged, asked questions and showed interest in volunteering their own time and resources towards Cooking for HOPE. This seems like the beginning of a new cooperative effort in this region.

    After Juliah’s talk and slide presentation with photos from the events and activities, attendees chatted, enjoyed homemade food and drinks and then wrapped up the Meeting. It was a cozy evening on a cold winter day that brought lots of hope to all who attended.

    Thank you again, Juliah, for coming to speak to us!

  • Thu, January 25, 2018 10:00 | Christine Funke (Administrator)

    The Heidelberg International Women’s Club started off 2018 with a successful first Monthly Meeting, the regular get-together for members and guests interested to learn more about the Club. It’s held monthly, alternating evenings and mornings to appeal to the wide demographics of women who are members of the Heidelberg IWC.

    Heidelberg IWC Members with Miteinander in der VG Freinsheim Guest Speakers

    Taking place at the Peace Church in Handschuhsheim, about 15 attendees gathered to hear from the Club Founder, Christine Funke, and guest speakers, and spend time chatting about the Club and getting to know one another. Christine started off the morning with a short introduction to the Club, her vision for how the Club will grow, and how attendees can become members and get involved.

    Next, guest speakers Silke Stevermüer and Andrea Scheuermann from the nonprofit organization Miteindander in der VG Freinsheim e.V. gave a 40 minute talk about their work over the past 3 years with refugees who are settled in their village on the Weinstrasse.

    Set up in 2015 during the high influx of refugees entering Germany, Andrea and Silke along with volunteers work directly with refugees to help with paperwork, appointments, setting up their apartments, getting children enrolled in school, giving language lessons, and hosting get-togethers for the refugees and members of the community. The refugees come from many different nations and have varied backgrounds of education, job skills and experiences fleeing their homes.

    As a special guest, a Syrian woman named Safa, attended with Silke and Andrea. She spoke in German about her experience in an apprenticeship in a school. She has learned German from scratch since arriving with her husband for four children, and has had to start over with a new skill set so that she can provide for her family. She was warm and friendly and spoke highly of the help she had received from Miteinander.

    Members and attendees at the Heidelberg IWC Monthly MeetingIt was interesting for attendees to learn about the type of activities the group hosts for the refugee community, how they teach them concepts like punctuality and women’s rights, and where their donations and volunteers come from. Silke and Andrea now have an office where people can come to them when they need help and they have various activities and groups to empower women and their families and help integrate the refugees into the education and job system.

    After this informative talk, attendees chatted about ideas for the Club, how to join, and found common ground among experiences abroad and living in Heidelberg and the surrounding region. Overall, it was a success and great start for the Heidelberg International Women’s Club. A big thanks goes out to all the members who helped make it a wonderful event.

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