Many of the participants who travelled to Guadalajara in Mexico for the partner conference between 28 March and 1 April probably rejoiced at finally being able to meet in person again. Two years of the pandemic meant that this was the first weltwärts partner conference that could be held since – in compliance with hygiene measures, of course.
65 participants from Central American countries, the Caribbean and Germany used this time to network with other partners and implementers, and to continue to jointly develop the weltwärts programme.
The conference was arranged by the organisations IB VAP Franken and Kiekare México. They showed a lot of engagement and tireless dedication to guarantee a problem free event and to ensure that all the participants felt completely at ease – including with regard to the coronavirus rules.
The conference was run by the extremely competent moderating duo Eduardo Arevalo from Mexico and former South-North volunteer Exalta Gabriela De La Barra Barra from Bolivia.
A full programme including many different topics awaited the participants: it started off with presentations and lots of input from the programme. The second day saw the participating organisations exchanging ideas, networking and talking about their experiences. The programme stakeholders mostly occupied themselves with challenges resulting from the pandemic, funding opportunities for engagement with voluntary returnees, finding new opportunities to expand work areas in sustainable and “green” places of assignment, the programme’s funding structure, and the design of community work.
There was also plenty of time to socialise. A joint excursion to Tlaquepaque and a spontaneous morning yoga session also enabled participants to get to know each other better outside of work groups and plenary discussions. The last evening of the conference was rounded off with a self-organised Fiesta Latina and a typical Mexican Mariachi band, equipped with guitar, violin, trumpets, harps and the Mexican stringed instrument the vihuela. This ensemble resulted in a dance or two.
Partner conferences reinforce the collaboration and networking between partner organisations from the countries of the Global South and the German implementing organisations. They also provide an excellent opportunity to discuss programme-related issues with representatives from partner organisations and the Programme Steering Committee. A regional partner conference enables the partner organisations in the weltwärts programme to exchange ideas, to network and to meet once again in person. The support and further development of the weltwärts programme in times of a pandemic raise many questions and challenges. The concerns of participants and current developments within weltwärts are therefore the primary focus.