The partnership – my work, my role,
my experiences 2009-2012
I remember it like today: In 1999, I received a call from my colleague in Düsseldorf – they were looking for five cities in NRW for a pilot project of an Agenda 21-partnership with a partner in the South. Since I had been commissioned to do Agenda 21 work for my employer Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft (CDG) in Aachen in 1995, the contact to Welthaus was quickly established. Here, a North-South partnership with a NGO in Khayelitsha, a township in Cape Town, had already existed since 1998 as part of the Agenda 21 process. The CDG was soon able to convince the Welthaus and the City of Aachen to participate in the CDG pilot project and the exciting time of building up the Agenda 21-partnership Aachen-Cape Town began for all those involved. For me a new field of activity started. I could and should take care of the new partnership; my previous activity (accompanying training guests during their stay in Aachen) was thankfully largely taken over by my colleague.
Looking back, it was a great and fulfilling time with a wide range of tasks: I was now able to accompany guests from Cape Town in Aachen who expanded their professional careers with development cooperation funding or who were invited to our North-South conferences. Conferences were funded for the development of the partnership and had to be organized. A partnership working group consisting of politicians, administrators and NGOs expanded my professional activities – some of the associated contacts still exist today. Various workshops broadened – not only – my horizon. The experiences I was able to make with this work are invaluable.
There were definitely difficult times with conflicts – after all, in our partnership working group we were people from very different fields of work, with different interests, goals and backgrounds. But in the course of the years, there was great cooperation and agreement. We got closer together and built bridges. I think this was a special achievement that we can all be proud of and that I consider my special experiences with the partnership in a very positive way.
In addition to all these experiences, I also look back with gratitude on the financial support of the Agenda 21-partnership from CDG / later InWEnt. The funded South-North conferences helped us to have important and fundamental encounters with our Southern partners. I was able to participate in two delegation trips, which enriched my life – extended by a family trip to Cape Town.
With numerous scholarships for further training, internships and visits from Cape Town to Aachen, we were able to take the Agenda 21-partnership further. Our funding for exchanges and projects enabled the partnership to have invaluable personal encounters. All this work was colorful, exciting and simply instructive – and invaluable.
When InWEnt gGmbH became part of GIZ in 2011, the work for our Agenda 21-partnership could no longer continue. I drew the consequence and realized a dream in 2012 by opening my own wool shop in Eupen/East Belgium. And after only a short time, I linked my passion for wool with development cooperation and supported a knitting project for refugees outside Europe with the help of my (wonderful) clientele. I had to give up the wool business due to various strokes of fate in the family, but I still support the project today.