Close to people | Stories from Bethel

You can kick well in a wheelchair

A girl peers round the corner with big, shining eyes. "Hello, here I am!" shouts Bercem and waves. The eleven-year-old is a whirlwind. She talks like a waterfall, sings with passion and has recently taken up playing football. She knows that this works well in a wheelchair if you fold up the footrests. Especially with her new electric wheelchair, which she is proud of because it can flash, honk and is really fast. "I can feel the wind in my hair," says Bercem cheerfully as she does a few laps around the large rooms at Bethel Children's and Youth Hospice. For the eleven-year-old, her stay at Bethel is like a holiday. "I've been here a lot and I think it's great," she says.

But Bercem has not always been so full of energy. "She often had to go to hospital, mostly because of life-threatening pneumonia," reports her mother Berivan Is. The woman from Bielefeld is constantly worried about her child, who suffers from congenital muscular dystrophy type Ullrich. This is an extremely rare disease that affects less than nine in a million people. It leads to pronounced muscle weakness. Lung function is particularly affected. Bercem therefore has to wear a mask at night to support her breathing. In order to be able to intervene immediately in the event of a crisis, someone is with the 11-year-old day and night. For Bercem's mother, staying at the Bethel children's and young people's hospice is like a little holiday. "Here I can finally let go and give up responsibility completely," says the 31-year-old single mum.

For most parents, the most important thing is actually to finally sleep through the night in the hospice. Because their children are well looked after. By people who are highly qualified to do so. On the lower floor there are rooms for children and young people who have a life-shortening illness. And playrooms. Therapy programmes. A cosy room with a fireplace and a large open kitchen. On the upper floor, parents and siblings stay like in a beautiful hotel. Everything revolves around relieving the burden on families. Because they need to recharge their batteries for their strenuous everyday lives. "I was quite scared of the children's hospice at first," recalls Bercem's mother. "I thought it was like a clinic and it was all about dying. But it's about living. There's a lot of laughter here. And it's nice to get to know the other parents."

Playing. Making fun. Racing against each other. Bercem likes it all. She thinks positively, even though she knows full well that her illness is progressing. Her muscles continue to deteriorate. At some point, she might not even have the strength to operate the wheelchair's electric controls with her fingers. "Oh, the technology is already advanced. Then I'll just use my eye movements," she says. And she has dreams: "I would love to become a rock star. Because I can sing really well." Here we go: karaoke at the children's hospice ...

Text: Heike Lepkojis | Photo: Christian Weische

This story simply told

Bercem is eleven and has a serious illness. She has often been to the Bethel children's and youth hospice. It's like a holiday for her. It's a great place to play and have fun with other children. The parents are looked after like in a hotel. Siblings are allowed to come along. There is a lot of laughter at the hospice. Even if death always plays a role.

Would you like to find out more?

About the organisation

Bethel Children's and Youth Hospice

Remterweg 55
33617 Bielefeld

0521 144-2650

To the website of the centre

Offers & services

The Bethel Children's and Youth Hospice offers children and young people with a life-shortening illness a protected environment in which they can spend time together with their families. In their own way and at their own pace. The aim is to give children and young people with life-shortening illnesses and their families a time worth living.

Close to people

More stories from Bethel

Topics | Hospice, Bielefeld

Horses give courage and joie de vivre

Horses give courage and joie de vivre
Gereon Klein hält Marie-Luise Gerhold im Arm und lächelt sie liebevoll an.

Topics | Disability assistance, Bielefeld

He leads her, and she leads him: together we go

He leads her, and she leads him: together we go

Topics | Hospital, Epilepsy, Berlin

Finally seizure-free after the operation

Finally seizure-free after the operation
Heinz Eis bearbeitet Stahl mit dem Hammer.

Topics | Working at Bethel, Gevelsberg

Creative with steel and stone

Creative with steel and stone
Chantal Schmidt-Lorenz tanzt in der Turnhalle.

Topics | Disability assistance, Bielefeld

Sweating for the most beautiful wedding dress

Sweating for the most beautiful wedding dress

Press contact

Press + Communication

Looking for help?

Are you or a relative dependent on help or assistance and looking for support?

Would you like to help?

There are many ways to help at Bethel. We are happy about any support!