The team of helpers are the Schunk apprentices Tom Ackermann, Erik Bender, Valentino Bonello, Mats Bormet, Silas Förster, Marvin Lemke, Joris Lotz and Nicklas Wagner, their instructors Jens Crombach and Florian Peter, as well as Mario Theiss, Jan-Simon Schmidt, Leon Schmidt and Claus Wagner.
"The people there don't know how to help themselves anymore. Some of them live in shell buildings, and there's no way to get ahead."
Valentino Bonello - Apprentice at Schunk
Impressions like these not only occupy the young trainee, but also the entire Schunk team of helpers, who were in the German Ahr Valley in April to help those affected by the flood disaster of 2021. In their luggage: electrical installation material worth 20,000 euros, tools and lots of motivation.
Help is decided by lot
Once they had arrived in the Ahr Valley, the team set off each morning from the youth hostel in Ahrweiler to visit victims who had at least a little bit of luck: they were drawn from the lottery pot. This is the only way for the volunteers in the region to organize who will get support from voluntary helping hands. "There are not many helpers left on site," says Mario Theiss. Together with Jan-Simon Schmidt and other Schunk helpers, Theiss has already been on two missions in the Ahr Valley. (⇒ Read also: Five men, six days of help)
The advantage: Theiss not only has experience on site, but as a part-time self-employed electrician, he also has the necessary tools. "People have no chance of getting tradesmen - the demand is far too great for that." No wonder, because the destruction in the Ahr Valley is still immense. "At one construction site, a family of five was living in the top floor of the house because the rest is not habitable," Jens Crombach recounts.
Relief that things are finally moving forward
The relief at the support from the young Schunk team was all the greater. "One woman hugged us tightly because she was so happy that things were finally moving forward," recalls Joris Lotz. On a total of five construction sites in Ahrweiler, Sinzig, Rech, the team of helpers has pulled new lines, laid cables, commissioned distribution boxes and connected meter cabinets. Now the walls can finally be plastered. "It's so bad that so much is still broken, even though the flood was two years ago," says Marvin Lemke. And Silas Förster adds, "The longer we were there, the more often I thought: we should have come much earlier."
"Without the boys, the project wouldn't have been able to run."
From the apprentice workshop "into the wild" - a huge challenge for the budding electricians and mechatronics engineers. "I was worried at first whether the boys would be able to keep it up," admits Theiss. "But I was proven wrong. To pull off five construction sites in five days - and that despite the fact that the trainees were doing electrical installations for the first time - is a huge achievement! That's only possible if nothing is too much for anyone and everyone pulls together." Trainer Crombach is also proud of the voluntary commitment of his protégés: "A great achievement - from the guys who pulled it off and from the team colleagues who organized the project."
And the commitment of Schunk's junior staff is clearly not yet exhausted: "It was great to be able to help people. Hopefully the project will continue so that we can go to the Ahr Valley again," says Lemke.