When we arrived at the Paulihof, we were greeted by a multitude of colourful impressions. In the house we met three dogs that couldn’t be more different in their behaviour. Shy, playful, daring; Each one unique in its own way. These first impressions characterised our entire stay: Each and every resident at the Paulihof is special, unique. This includes the many chickens, sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, and the many other animal residents as well as the children who have found their home on the Paulihof.
Paulihof – Kinderhilfe gGmbH (i.e., children’s aid company) is an educational-therapeutic residential group for traumatised children, which has its approach in curative education with animals. The Paulihof farm was founded over 17 years ago, was formerly part of the child protection agency in Munich, and has been an independent, non-profit company since 2020.
Up to 10 children are accommodated at the Paulihof at the same time. Some of these have had a long history in child protection and youth welfare. Many have had bad experiences, severe fears of attachment, and were “written off” by the system. Nothing of this was noticeable during our visit. At lunch, the children excitedly reported on their school life, discussed upcoming tasks, and exchanged hugs. However, it is obvious how much work and energy has gone into this development. A total of 14 supervisors work in shifts on the farm. Their tasks involve not only intensive childcare work, but also household chores, and, above all, farm work. The children are intensely involved in the animal care process on the farm and they each have a reference animal for which they are responsible. The work being done with the children and animals on this farm is very special and helps them to find the protection, security, and trust to be able to form new relationships. Animal-assisted education promotes physical, emotional, and social development and enables new experiences. The focus of the work being done on Paulihof is on building a relationship between humans and animals and transferring these experiences to dealings with other people.
Just like the children, the animals at the Paulihof have gone through a lot in their lives. They were often neglected, mistreated, and unwanted and in some cases they are severely traumatized. It is precisely this similarity in experience that the children can identify with particularly well. On the informative website of the Paulihof (www.paulihof.eu) you can find the sentence “Here, child and animal welfare come together.” and it couldn’t have been put into words in a more appropriate way. In the middle of this wonderful undertaking stands Ulrike Heigenmooser, who originally set up the project and has since run the Paulihof. During our visit, we immediately felt how much love and strength she puts into dealing with each and every Paulihof resident. Supported by her colleague and co-director of the farm, Sandra Sailer, the remedial teacher is committed to helping her protégés with heart and soul. Not always an easy undertaking, but always an incredibly rewarding one.
We were absolutely delighted after our visit to the Paulihof and are glad to be able to contribute to this great project with our support.
A short video (in German) about the Paulihof can also be found here: https://www.tvingolstadt.de/mediathek/44381/