Every Wednesday, Hope for Zurich organizes a 'Kids Treff': a children’s get-together at a church in the northern district of Zurich. “We like to meet children — and their parents,“ says Debi, one of the staff members at HfZ. ”We use the children’s book 'Josi at the King's Castle'. It is accompanied by a audiobook.“
Last Wednesday, HfZ invited some of the children’s parents to the church-run café across the street. ”We arranged for a woman and her son to be there at four o'clock. Exactly on time, the mom stepped into the café with her son. They had dressed formally. They addressed me with the polite 'Sie'-form, normally used with strangers. She had even made the effort to find out my family name that accompanies this formal address...“ It looked like as if she believed that the reason for this meeting was that her son had committed some kind of misdeed. But the staff of HfZ just wanted to get to know the parents of 'their' kids, the children attending ’Kids Treff'. They were sitting in the shade under the trees in front of the coffee shop.
“Slowly, the ice seemed to break as we explained to her why we were here,” Debi continues. But the atmosphere was still tense and every time Tom*, her son, coughed, his mom, Elena*, instructed him: “Behave yourself!”
During the conversation, Elena recounted that she had been suffering from depression. She was telling, in fairly good German, that her parents were Tamils, but that she wanted to integrate into the Swiss culture. Since she wanted to be accepted by the Swiss people, she made an extra effort to speak German properly. Elena is married and has one child. Her husband is away a lot, so she spends much time home alone with Tom.
Then, Elena told her story: “It was a cold evening in November. I felt really bad; I felt forsaken. I took Tom and left the house. I had not taken time to dress him properly for the cold, and so he walked beside me in his rubber boots, without any protection against the cold. I did not know where I was going, but ended up at the church. However, on a Sunday evening, nobody was there... Everything was wet, the rain had just stopped falling, but my tears kept running down my face.”
Debi offered her the children’s book 'Josi at the King's Castle', the book Elena’s son Tom knew already from the ‘Kids Treff’. The story goes like this: A boy, accepted nowhere, flees into the king’s castle. He is invited to stay there. He accepts the offer, but hides his bleeding, hurting heart. But the king knows! He heals the bleeding heart. Elena accepted the booklet with the comment that she would love to have it, as it might help her to learn German properly.
Just then, Emil* arrived at their table. Emil has a mental disability and is often a guest at this café. During his frequent visits, he joins guests at their table and talks to them. Debi thought that this might not be the right time for a visit and said: “Emil, we are right in the middle of an important conversation...” Emil answered: „No problem, I will not disturb you!” and began to talk....
“He started to talk exactly where we had left off — it was so cool!” relates Debi. Emil talked of hurting, injured hearts. This caused Elena to open up, and tell them more about herself. “We saw once more how God uses people that not we, but He Himself, had chosen to do a given job,” said Debi.
The following week, Elena came to the coffee shop again. “I have read the whole book and have learned a lot of German while doing it!” she told us excitedly. But the following conversation showed that the book had reached her feelings, her emotions! Elena recognized herself in Josi’s story, and identified herself with him! “It is amazing how a story, written for children, speaks to the needs of adults just as well,” marvels Debi. “Now we are all curious how Elena’s story will keep on enfolding,” she finished.