The vostel Blog – News, Opinions and Best Practice about Volunteering

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Our vostel-volunteer Fred in portrait

Fred is holding a sign that says #5vostelquestions

We want to give different people from our community the opportunity to speak under the hashtag #5vostelquestions and to share their experiences and knowledge in the field of volunteering. For us the central question is what each of us can do in our daily lives to make the world a little bit better and more sustainable. This week we want to talk with Fred.

Question 1: Who are you and what is your connection to vostel.de?

Hello, I’m Fred Obermann. I came to Berlin 5 years ago. I was working as a software engineer but I am currently retired and participate in two volunteer activities, one is at the repair cafe in Alt-Treptow and in the other I work as an english tutor at the refugee camp in Lichtenberg.

Question 2: What is the purpose behind what you do?

I enjoy it! It’s completely different from spending ten hours a day starring at a computer monitor and building software systems with impossible deadlines.

Question 3: How do you contribute to a better & more sustainable future?

I think it’s what I don’t do and what I haven’t done that contributes to a more sustainable future. Number one, I don’t have any children. Children consume enormous amounts of ressources. And number two, I decided to retire in Berlin, where I don’t need a car. If I would have retired in the United States, I would have to have a car and drive all over the place. Here I have a much lighter footprint.

Fred is holding a sign that says #5vostelquestions

Question 4: What would you do if time & money didn’t matter?

I think the key to a more sustainable future lies in a population, that thinks critically and dispassionately about the problems of global warming and it’s follow-up problems. And furthermore in a population, that is willing to think in terms of what is good for the species as a whole as opposed to personal wealth, personal comfort, race, religion and nationality. And given an unlimited amount of time and an unlimited amount of money, I still wouldn’t know how to accomplish these goals.

Question 5: If the whole world listened to you, what would you say?

The internal combustion engine is a tool of the devil and coal and oil are the fuels of the devil. Current economic theory does not take in account the consequences of global warming and the decline of liberal political governance is a disaster in the making. Meanwhile, Our glaciers are retreating and the rivers a drying up, which is we need to learn how to live with much less water in the future. In addition, a populations willful ignorance is a road to disaster. And lastly, we have a worldwide infrastructure devoted to the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. Left to it’s own devices to continue business as usual, it will kill us all.


If you would like to get involved like Fred, have a look at our website vostel.de. Here we provide concrete possibilities for individuals to become socially engaged and help create a better world.

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