“It feels good to give back to the community”

“It feels good to give back to the community”

A room of one’s own

13-03-2023 · Interview

Mirthe Bosch (18, Dutch), a first-year bachelor’s student of Biomedical Sciences, pays 630 euros per month for a 28 m2 studio apartment in the neighbourhood Statenkwartier.

It was pure luck that Mirthe Bosch was able to move into this studio apartment last summer. She knew a student in Maastricht, a casual acquaintance. “My parents told me to text her – you never know, she might have valuable information.” But it was even better than that. “She was moving out in August. I could take over her apartment.”

So she didn’t end up living “in a student house with a few other girls”, as she had thought she would. “I don’t mind, though. I like to keep a clean house, which is more difficult in a shared home. And living together is fun, but I also like to be alone to unwind after a busy day. Although it did take some getting used to – my parents’ house in Uden, Noord-Brabant, is always full of people. I have two older sisters and we often have people over.”

On the fringes

Her apartment is part of The Masters, an initiative that focuses on young people who live “on the fringes of society” and are not (or not yet) ready or able to live independently. They live in the building among students. “We support them if they need it. They can stop by if they’ve forgotten something from the supermarket or if they need to borrow something. We also have a group chat and there’s a monthly meeting to discuss any concerns.”

According to Bosch, it’s not much different from living in other types of accommodation. “Healthcare providers do most of the work. Us students have few obligations; the main thing expected of us is that we are open to contact. But we don’t actually have much interaction, apart from the occasional chat in the corridor. Maybe that’s a good thing, though. It’s important that we don’t see these young people as somehow less-than. This isn’t an assisted living facility. Forcing interaction could backfire.”

Giving back

There is another social initiative located on the ground floor of the building. At Vorkje Prikken, residents of Maastricht who are struggling with costs can enjoy a three-course meal, organised by volunteers, for just a few euros. Bosch recently volunteered there, helping to cook, serve and wash up, together with her fellow student Frederique Vossen and medical student Sophia Jonkheid. “It was prompted by Femmes-Tastiques, the independent sorority we joined in January. Doing something for a good cause was one of the things we had to do as aspiring members. I walk by here all the time and even get to join for dinner, so this felt like the right initiative to support.”

The students enjoyed their evening of volunteering. “We might do it more often in the future. You meet a lot of people from other generations that you wouldn’t normally get to meet. You learn quite a lot from them; they’re interesting people. All three of us are new to Maastricht, and this is a nice way to give back to the community. Honestly, it’s something more students should be doing.”

Dementia

The building used to be a school. Bosch’s apartment was a classroom, as evidenced by its high ceilings and windows. “It’s nice, as there’s a lot of natural light.” She also has a great view of the Sint Jan Church and the Sint-Servaas Basilica. And of her place of work – a nursing home just down the street, where she works with older people with dementia once per week. “We try to offer them meaningful activities. I enjoy it. It’s rewarding work and no two days are the same.”

She does the same on weekends, at a nursing home near her parents’ house. “I started working there when I was in secondary school. I wanted to earn some extra money, so I approached them to see if I could help out by doing some cleaning. The answer was no, but they were looking for someone to help out in the common living room.” Working there eventually inspired her choice of degree. “I would see people do strange things and wonder what exactly was happening in their bodies. It led me to biomedical sciences, which aims to better understand diseases.”

The gemstones displayed on her bookshelf are slightly less scientific. “It might be a bit woo woo”, laughs Bosch. “I’ve been collecting them for a while. Not just because they’re pretty, but also because I’m interested in the spiritual meaning. I always have a few gemstones on me.”

Photo: Ellen Oosterhof

Categories: news_top, People
Tags: aroomofone'sown,volunteering,femmes-tastiques,the masters,dementia,care,students,instagram

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