EPCOS and TDK Europe this year donated EUR 25,000 in support of the German Multiple Sclerosis Society (DMSG). DMSG is one of the oldest relief organizations for MS sufferers in Germany. One key project is the MS bazaar in Munich, which, since its inception 45 years ago, has grown to become one of the country's largest charity bazaars to be run on a purely voluntary basis.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disorder of the central nervous system. The disease damages the nerve fibers that carry signals from the brain via the spinal cord to the rest of the body. Similar to electric cables, these fibers are surrounded by an insulating layer. However, if inflammation occurs inside this protective cover, the transmission of signals from the brain can be disrupted. Patients may find themselves stumbling more often or experience impaired vision, for example.
More than 200,000 MS patients live in Germany, according to figures from the country's Federal Social Insurance Authority (BVA). The global figure is estimated at around 2.5 million people. At the present time, there is no cure for the disease, but it is possible to positively influence its progression. Multiple sclerosis still raises many unanswered questions: The form it takes, the symptoms suffered and the success of therapeutic measures vary very considerably. One thing is for sure, though: Being diagnosed with MS always comes as a shock – and brings with it many far-reaching changes. As time goes on and the disease develops, many patients find themselves unable to hold a job and become dependent on assistance.
Purely voluntary commitment
This is where the MS bazaar comes in. Organized by 140 helpers from the Bavarian chapter of the DMSG on a purely voluntary basis, the bazaar is unique in the whole of Germany. It is an important source of funds for the organization. Five times a year, the bazaar sells a selection of shoes and clothing, linen, household goods, jewelry and accessories, books and CDs. Each individual bazaar fills several hundred square meters and draws thousands of visitors. All the proceeds are used to help MS patients.
"Especially when young people are affected, the disease can very quickly threaten financial ruin," says Margot Kraft, who runs the MS bazaar. She herself was diagnosed with the illness about 20 years ago. "Having to pay your rent, the doctor's bills, maybe buy a wheelchair – it quickly adds up. In many cases, it is real help just to stock someone's refrigerator with food." Or to organize an excursion: "There are people who would otherwise never get out any more," Kraft explains. "They have tears in their eyes when they see the sea or the mountains. And that makes the effort more than worthwhile!"