Influenced by war since birth, Hanna Jansen has devoted her life to healing and restoring the human spirit.
Hanna Schötker (maiden name) grew up in Osnabrück, Germany, in the years following World War II. Though her childhood was a time of great depravation, she has many positive memories of it. "We children were free-spirited and loved the outdoors," she says. "To us, the ruins [of the war] were a world where there was adventure to experience. lt was a time that challenged my imagination." Hanna was a very serious yet often dreamy child, whose father, an art teacher and painter, supported her interest in theater and books.
After attending the University of Osnabrück from 1966–1969, Hanna went to Cologne for teacher training. She taught at various schools in Cologne, and in 1980 she began to train other teachers. In 1984 she became the moderator of in-service training of teachers and worked as an organizer for the City Government of Cologne. From 1985–1988 she was headmistress at the Comprehensive School of Cologne. Then, in 1988, marriage and the start of her family took her away from teaching, and she spent the next ten years writing lesson units and texts in literature and German language instruction for a large textbook publisher. She also spent time as an actress in the City Theatre of Osnabrück.
Marrying later and life, Hanna and Reinhold Jansen, a pediatrician, shared a dream of giving a home to children who did not have one. In 1987, they adopted their first child, a four-year-old son from Africa. Since then, the Jansen's have taken in twelve children, most of them refugees from war-torn countries.
In 2000, Hanna began writing again, and has since published four children's books. She is currently working on her first novel for adults. Her projects deal with themes of prejudice, racism, and exclusion and raise readers' empathy for victims of cruelty. Her book Über tausend Hügel wandere ich mit Dir (Over a Thousand Hills I Walk with You), a young adult novel based on the real-life experiences of her adopted daughter Jeanne d'Arc Umubyeyi, won Germany's prestigious Buxtehuder Bulle Literary Award in 2003. Translated into English by Elizabeth D. Crawford, Over a Thousand Hills I Walk with You is being published by Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, in 2006.