In November 2023, partner organisations and their German implementing organisations convened in the Philippines at the partner conference for Southeast Asia. A total of 51 people from Indonesia, Cambodia, East Timor, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Germany attended. They regarded the choice of topics discussed, the methods used and the atmosphere of the conference, which was organised by the Karl Kübel Stiftung, as highly successful.
Almost all of the organisations from Southeast Asia had a contact person from their German partner at the conference. This meant that obstacles to cooperation could be discussed in specific terms, approaches to solutions could be developed, agreements could be made and new ideas could be reflected on and implemented, all of which helped to strengthen the international partnerships.
As a relatively high proportion of the attendees had little experience of the programme, various methods were used to convey its fundamental principles and management during the conference. The participants found this very helpful. The interactive format also left space to exchange practical questions regarding areas such as choosing and preparing volunteers and how to educate and mentor them. Regional WhatsApp groups were set up for further dialogue about the practical aspects. A suggestion was made to convey basic information in advance of future conferences so that more time can be dedicated to discussion.
The information about the South-North component was met with great interest. Some stakeholders planned a specific point of entry in collaboration with their partner organisations.
The participants cited rising costs due to inflation and the euro’s loss of value as a big challenge. The declining numbers of volunteers also had an effect on financing. For this reason, the participants proposed an increase in the funding rates in the North-South component. Aside from this, the COVID-19 pandemic led guest families and places of assignment to be more cautious about accepting volunteers, and this has also been the case among organisations in Southeast Asia.
A representative from the German embassy in Manila and two people from the National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency of the Philippines attended the conference. This organisation plays a central role in issuing visas for the Philippines and in volunteers travelling from the Philippines to Germany. Its attendance gave the participants the opportunity to clarify questions relating to visa difficulties.
By the end, the participants seemed highly satisfied with the conference. They were complimentary about the organisation, presentation, variety of methods used and the convivial atmosphere which facilitated in-depth dialogue. The topics discussed fully covered all of their requirements.