Long-awaited weltwärts partner conference in Rwanda proves a great success

The partner conference for East African countries in Kigali, Rwanda, finally went ahead in May after having been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It focussed on information about the weltwärts programme, dialogue and networking.

group picture of the 52 participants from Kenia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Germany.

In total, 52 people from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Germany attended the conference. The positive, cordial relations between the East African countries was clear to see. The prevailing atmosphere was highly constructive, with a strong sense of community. The excellent preparations made by the German Red Cross in Hesse Volunta in collaboration with the Rhineland-Palatinate and Rwanda partnership and the professional way in which the conference was presented all helped to make the event a success.

The combination of experienced and new partner organisations provided a stimulating basis for sharing experiences. The attendees are planning to set up an international network to build on this further. Jointly run seminars and mentor training schemes were also discussed,with the attendees mentioning difficulties with acquiring visas in relation to both of these.

Partner conferences intensify the cooperation and networking.

This prompted requests for more information about the role of country-specific contact points for visa and security matters within the weltwärts programme. Since the Programme Steering Committee was well-represented, with four people in attendance, all questions could be answered directly and it became clear that the country-specific contact points are geared towards the sending and host organisations rather than the volunteers. Further difficulties that the partner organisations are having to deal with include the rising cost of living in their countries, which is making it harder to provide volunteers with accommodation, food and mentoring. The importance of being well prepared was also repeatedly raised.

Mrs. Said (BMZ) thanked Mrs. Barbara Kerime (Agiamondo)

The discussions were not limited to weltwärts, however. For example, Rwanda is a leader in the fields of environmental protection and reducing plastic waste. Certain plastic products such as plastic bags and cups have been banned there since 2007. Attendees from other countries were hard pressed to find any litter on the streets, which impressed them greatly.

One moment that the conference attendees found particularly moving was the visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, which uses poignant words and images to commemorate the genocide of the Tutsis in 1994. The attendees laid a wreath in memory of the victims.

Partner conferences intensify the cooperation and networking between partner organisations from the countries of the Global South (PO) and German implementing organisations (IO). They also offer a good opportunity to discuss programme-related issues with representatives of the PO and PSC.

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