“All of our lives we’re looking for home and if we’re really lucky, we find it in someone’s loving arms. I think that’s what life is – coming home.”
The best feeling in the world: coming home to your family, your friends, your loved ones. Nothing compares. Here, you can truly be you, unwind, relax, settle down. No need to explain yourself, no pressure, just love and hugs and peace of mind. An article about that one place to be, it’s mystical power of healing and about those who miss it most.
Home – known by many as the place where you run around in jogging pants, store empty pizza cartons and do the “Netflix & chill”-thing – is probably the most important location in your life. As a matter of fact it is something like a reflection of you: show me your flat and I tell you who you are!
And whether your home is your castle or just the place where you crash and your dishes are piling up, there is always some magic in finally coming back home – wherever that might be. When was the last time you really felt it? Maybe you have been on vacation or you went away for work or studied abroad, or maybe you have just been enjoying a long night out. No matter what it is that kept you away from this special place the very moment you cross the threshold you are there – where you really belong.
But what is home to you? What is it about your home that makes you forget all about the world? Is it your lover waiting for you? Is it the good smell? Your comfy couch? The gentle touch of your beloved cat meowing softly when you enter? Tell us all about where the magic happens in the comments!
And no matter what it is that makes you feel right at home – one thing is for sure: a life without a home is possible but pointless. (Shout out to all the people out there that are constantly on tour and have to deal with hotelrooms and air bnb-appartements all the time. Stay strong!) Everyone needs a place to feel safe and to recharge. (And charge the phone, of course)
Now we all know: leaving hurts, and leaving for good sometimes even more. Losing your home altogether, running from it, being forced to flee, that’s what nightmares are made of. One could argue that in our heated times the value of home has become even more self-evident. Home is where the heart is? What sounds like a wall-tattoo or a quote from an IKEA-catalogue is really much deeper than it seems.
Where is the love?
There is almost eight billion people on this planet. According to the charity-organization Habitat for Humanity almost 1.6 billion of them do not even have a place they call home – because they live on the streets, in homeless shelters or housing projects for asylum seekers. That’s the population of Germany (around 80 million) times twenty!
Thank god homelessness is not a first world problem, right? Wrong! In Germany the numbers are growing rapidly compared to other industrialized nations. Roughly 650.000 people in Germany today have no adequate housing – and almost half of these people are asylum seekers still living in containers and housing projects. These numbers were published by an association called Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Wohnungslosenhilfe (BAG W) in November 2019. In 2016 the number was even higher at 860.000.
It is estimated that in Germany about 50.000 men and women actually live on the streets permanently, sleeping under bridges, in subway stations and parks and underneath cloudy skies. The dark figure might be higher though because many homeless people are not even registered. Among this homeless population: 9.000 children and young adults that try to get by with no one really taking care of them. Internationally it is 100 million kids spending most of their lifes outside. A third of them is living on the streets permanently without their parents as the NGO Terre des hommes estimates.
Go Home! Say what?
It’s weird: sometimes you start to see the real value of something only when you begin to miss it, don’t you agree? How good does it feel to be home after a long journey? Probably as good as a nice piece of cake tastes after a long low-carb-diet. There is something truly magical (& sweet!) about it.
But home is so much more than just the roof above your head or the interior of your flat – it is your city, your entourage, your neighbourhood, your family, your culture, your country. A study down by the institute Infratest Dimap among Germans in 2015 made clear: to 9 out of 10 “Home” is an important concept. And to them it is not so much a place but much more the people surrounding them who define where home is. A survey done by Statista in 2017 underlines these findings: 45 percent of people felt that there can be no real home without family. It’s feeling safe and being welcome and protected what matters most – no matter where you are.
Fun fact: In Germany right now only 6 percent of people still live where they were born, that’s what a representative survey of ancestry.com found out last year. And no, it’s not like they all moved to Berlin (yet). This brave new world – it turns as all into nomads, more or less. Opportunities and possibilities everywhere, chances you need to take, people you have to follow, love that makes you move – all of these things lead us to define home as the place where the heart is and not so much as a fixed city or region.
Home’s healing forces
But home is not only important in matters of the heart but also in terms of health. Many scientific studies in recent years researched the effects of the environment on healing processes. Things like the acoustic and visual properties of hospitals play a huge role, things like shapes, colours and odors too. In short: the environment is key to a successful therapy or treatment and significantly increases probability and speed of recovery.
This remains true even in your own home where you can do a lot to increase your well-being. Some Tipps for take away: choose warm, earthly colours, minimize stressors like bright lights, noises, disorder, let in fresh air and natural sunlight, surround yourself with plants and stimulate your senses with decorations and good odors.
But what if you are sick – like really sick – and can’t leave the hospital? For many people struggling with a serious illness being forced to stay in hospital can become a great burden. Usually this time goes by and patients can deal with their hardship much better when there is someone visiting frequently. Hospital beds, hospital food, missing home – wouldn’t this make you sick just by itself?
Unfortunately, there are many terminally ill patients in Germany and around the world that must face the harsh reality of never seeing home again. Patients with cancer for example, those that only have weeks and days left, must miss home more than anything.
Valentina’s last wish
When EMERALD BERLIN first heard about the story of Valentina, it inspired us to become active immediately. There was this 12 year old girl. And on the pictures we saw she was smiling so brightly. Still a kid she was diagnosed with a highly aggressive bone tumour. And there she was smiling against all odds. She was granted only 13 years of life and she was forced to stay in hospital because only there she could get the treatment she needed. But you know what? She missed home – so much.
This is why Valentinas parents created the foundation Stiftung Valentina which aims to provide severely and terminally ill children with the highest possible level of homecare at the end of their lives. This means they’ll do everything to make sure that these kids can stay home during their last weeks. Find out more about the project on our website!
Together with Stiftung Valentina, EMERALD BERLIN lights a beacon of love for severely and terminally ill children. With our EMERALD BERLIN x VALENTINA-Collection we want to spread light and joy and fight the pain and suffering of those affected. Do you want to be part of this movement and show terminally ill children that they are not alone and that a strong community has their back and stands by them? Then show your support, donate to Stiftung Valentina and spread awareness among your friends and family and on social-media.
Tell us how important home is to YOU in the comments and share your stories with us on instagram using the hashtag #homesick and mention @emeraldberlin.
The author of this blog-article is Marc Dassen. You want to leave him a comment or ask a question? Send him an e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org.