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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.

Josefine Ebel

Something was always on the move with me – either through external circumstances or through myself. Born in Berlin, raised in the North of Germany, my curiosity for new things led me to the Rhineland. That’s where I got stuck, that’s where – or rather in East Belgium – I feel very comfortable, finally put down roots and spent the longest time of my life.

The border country here is exciting. As soon as you cross the border, you really are in a completely different country – with different habits, mentalities, pleasures. It was always fun for me to go on my self-devised „Little Belgium Tour“ with all guests – including those from our Agenda 21-partnership. I believe it has remained positively in the memory of many and has been able to present what is special about our border triangle region.

My path to development cooperation: it wasn’t planned. Not at all!
First, I trained to become a teacher for art and Protestant religious education (unloved, but quite instructive) – because I was not allowed to do „free art“ by my parents. I had the naïve idea of serving as a teacher in the morning and painting in the afternoon. I quickly realised that I could not justify this (especially to children). So I had to find a „bread and butter“ job that would allow me to continue to devote myself to art and exhibitions. So I came to the Carl Duisberg Society more by chance than by design.
And I enjoyed the work – soon I was involved with great commitment. When a baby was on the horizon, I concentrated only on family and development cooperation and replaced art with crafts.
The Agenda 21-partnership Aachen-Cape Town was a special job within my work. I was particularly fascinated by the Agenda 21 idea of the indiscriminate cooperation of all actors, the participation of all on an equal footing. It was always my goal to accompany and promote this difficult process. I very much hope that this has been somewhat successful.
Often there was little distinction between work and private life in the partnership – and in the end, I also left somewhat sadly in 2012 after 25 years in development cooperation. But the decision was absolutely right: I wanted to stand fully behind my work. It also allowed me to fulfil another small dream: my own wool shop in Eupen. Here, too, development cooperation did not let me go: I was (and still am) involved in the Aachen project „Knitting against the Cold“ and also knit warm clothes for homeless people in Aachen.
I remain connected to the Agenda 21-partnership between Aachen and Cape Town, albeit without professional commitment.