Local encounters: Partner conference in Colombia
The mentoring of volunteers remains a vital topic
In September, the weltwärts partner organisation in the countries of the Andes met with their German implementing organisations and members of the Programme Steering Committee in Villa de Leyva (Colombia). The focus of the five-day conference was on the mentoring of volunteers and how to act in crisis situations.
Finally, they are taking place again: the partner conferences in the weltwärts programme. They allow the participating organisations to engage in dialogue, to network and discuss important topics. The focus of the conference in Colombia was on topics that concern the partner organisations on site in actual practice and less on overriding subjects. The main subject of the conference, the mentoring of volunteers, was carried forward by various activities.
An enriching exchange and exciting discussions evolved through a special method: Controversial statements were put on the scale, and participants could put corn kernels on one of the two weighing trays and give reasons. For example, participants discussed whether projects should be given more or less support by a volunteer service; or whether volunteers work in a project more for learning or more for giving guidance.
Against the backdrop of what everybody underwent during the COVID-19 pandemic, other lively topics that were discussed related to questions of more guidance as to how to act in a crisis situation, how to support volunteers in a crisis and other challenges, e.g. long waiting times for necessary visits to the authorities. In addition, participants were given the opportunity to introduce their own topics in the Open Space. The network of partner organisations in the Andes “Unidos por la montaña” was showcased here, and new members were found.
In closing, Marvin Schmelzer-Pauschinger, representing the Programme Steering Committee in the weltwärts programme, paid tribute to the achievements those present had accomplished during the pandemic and the strength with which they continue to engage with the North-South and the South-North components and many other aspects of the weltwärts programme in such difficult times.
Impressions of the Partner conference in Colombia
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.
This partner conference was arranged by the German Red Cross in Hessen Volunta with the partners Fundación 180 Ramos de Buitrago and Hostelling International Bolivia. In total, 55 people from Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Germany took part in the conference.