Close to people | Stories from Bethel

Betheljahr participant finds her purpose

Myrna Stipic holds the bag between her thumb and index finger and slowly swivels it to the side. There, right next to her, sits Dietmar Bröenhorst. He too is now looking at the contents of the small bag: Two angle brackets and four screws are inside - just as it should be. They both smile with satisfaction.

The Eicheneck workshop in Bielefeld-Bethel employs people, some of whom have significant physical and mental disabilities. Just like Dietmar Bröenhorst. He helps out in production with light packaging and assembly work. It's all about fulfilling orders like the one from an East Westphalian kitchen manufacturer: two brackets and four screws per bag. Dietmar Bröenhorst manages this because he gets support. From Myrna Stipic, among others. The 21-year-old is completing a Bethel year in the workshop - and has clearly found her purpose. "It feels like it was made for me," she says. "What I do here fulfils me."

The Bielefeld native found out about the Bethel Year through friends and acquaintances after graduating from high school. Participants complete it as part of a voluntary social year or the Federal Voluntary Service. The Bethel Year has been running for 20 years and gives them the opportunity to gain their first impressions of the typical professions at Bethel. Many of them go on to start an apprenticeship, for example in nursing, geriatric care or occupational therapy.

This is exactly what Myrna Stipic would now like to do. She wants to endeavour to train as an occupational therapist. It is quite possible that she will go on to study later. For now, however, she has extended her Bethel year by six months. "I did that because I can gain even more experience and I really, really like the work," she says: "I feel like I'm there for people and I feel that I'm part of a team."

Myrna Stipic assists employees like Dietmar Bröenhorst in production, but also supports and accompanies them when they eat and go to the toilet. She goes for walks with some of them, paints with others or reads to them. "It's important," she says, "to keep a close eye on the people we look after, including those who can't work but are still in the workshop to participate in the world of work." It is just as important for her to develop a feel for the condition of the employees; to understand what they can do and what they want. This is not always easy, as it is not possible to talk to everyone. Nevertheless, Myrna Stipic usually finds a way to get through to them: "I'm a very empathetic person and realise what's going on with others."

Myrna Stipic knows what's going on with herself even better. She is happy and satisfied that she decided to do a Betheljahr at the Eicheneck workshop. "I can only recommend the Bethel Year," she says: "It was and is very good for my development. I've grown and learnt to stand up for myself and others."

Text: Philipp Kreutzer | Photos: Thomas Richter

"It feels like the Bethel Year was made for me. What I do here fulfils me."
Myrna Stipic

This story simply told

Myrna Stipic is 21 and works at the Eicheneck workshop in Bethel. She is doing a Bethel Year there. This is voluntary. She supports people with severe physical and mental disabilities. This enables these people to do their work better. This gives Myrna Stipic great pleasure. That is why she has extended her Betheljahr by six months.

Would you like to find out more?


Betheljahr | Volunteer Agency-Bethel
Grete-Reich-Weg 13
33617 Bielefeld

0521 144-3087

To the website of the organisation

Programmes & services

The Betheljahr is an educational and orientation year for young adults aged 17 and over, in exceptional cases also for 16-year-olds with personal suitability and aptitude. It is designed as an orientation year between school and work. The learning and experience areas of personal development and career orientation form the main focus of the Betheljahr.

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