My name is Thomas. Since November 2019 I am a volunteer at the Berliner Aids-Hilfe e.V.. Until now, my life has been going quite smoothly, which prompted me to search for a volunteering position in which I could help other people and give them some of my time and energy. There are many people in Berlin whose lives have not always been straightforward for a variety of reasons and who sometimes need help or just some encouragement. Of course, this also applies to people with HIV. For many, HIV still means social stigmatization and exclusion.
That is why I want to help break down prejudices and fear of contact and thus show that people with HIV are no different from anyone else. Nowadays, HIV-positive people who take their medication are no longer infectious, so no one has to be afraid of contact or fear of their own HIV transmission. So, I was sure from the beginning that I had landed in the right place at the Berliner Aids-Hilfe.
I work in the team "Ulrichs - Café, Küche & Kultur", a meeting place for people with HIV, their relatives, and the neighborhood. Before the Corona pandemic, up to 150 people came daily, e.g. for brunch, parties, exhibitions, and much more. The fact that our guests felt comfortable with us was illustrated, among other things, by the fact that some stayed for hours. But there were also those who met only briefly and then continued to stroll through Berlin.
„There are many people in Berlin whose lives have not always been straightforward for a variety of reasons and who sometimes need help or just some encouragement.“
Unfortunately, at the moment, the meetings are no longer possible, which is why the Ulrichs team has decided to offer take-away food in jars. For us, as well as for people with HIV, a healthy, balanced, and varied diet is crucial. Therefore, now we meet three times a week in small, fixed groups and cook a healthy, delicious dish, which we then "preserve" in jars.
From Tuesdays through Thursdays, anyone can take food home or to the office. The price for menu is starting at 2.80 euros plus a glass deposit at Karl-Heinrich-Ulrichs-Str. 11 in Berlin Schöneberg (U. Bahnhof Nollendorfplatz). Of course, needy people living in poverty and homeless HIV-positive people who turn to the Berlin Aids-Hilfe in search of help will continue to receive our dishes free of charge.
As a vegan, I have also been able to integrate purely plant-based dishes into our offering with great pleasure. The initial skepticism as to whether our guests would even accept this quickly proved unfounded. It is great fun for me to use my passion for cooking to prepare meals for guests and our employees.
Our team hopes to welcome guests at Café Ulrichs again soon. And, of course, to be a place for meetings again. Until then, we will continue to serve our food in glass through a hatch outside.