Successfully applying the things learned during volunteer service.

Kossi Paul Enyan Klu

Location: Berlin, Deutschland

Organisation: IJGD

Since 2013 I have been involved with the Togolese volunteer organisation Association Togolaise des Volontaires au Travail (ASTOVOT). The experiences acquired from this involvement as well as a very exciting ASTOVOT workcamp gave my friend Komla Edoh Satchivi and me the idea of helping needy children and young people in our area and offer them prospects for the future. Armed with these intentions we founded SEDO-Togo, now a successful and recognised organisation in this country. But first things first...

...first, off to Germany.

When I discovered that I could do a volunteer service assignment in Germany with ASTOVOT and the International Youth Services (ijgd), I was thrilled and applied straight away. Without hesitating, I decided to go for the bilingual day-care centre “Kinderinsel / L'île aux enfants” in Berlin. I helped the daycare centre supervisors and as a result was able to see and experience the development of the children throughout the whole year. My previous experiences helped me quickly become a real support to the team – eventually the kids even referred to me as “Papa Paul”.

I realised that children in day care are not just given theory-based explanations about what the supervisors want to teach them, but also receive practical demonstrations. Apart from this, they are read to a lot. Most institutions in Togo lack the money to acquire learning material – and they often also lack an educational methodology.

Paul is standing in front of a group of children.
Paul is talking to children in Agové

This led me to reflect more about myself and my home country and to think about how we could improve our support for children at home with our organisation in the future.

Big plans for SEDO-Togo!

During my volunteer service I had many interesting conversations with people from all over the world, and I experienced intensively how children in Germany are brought up and taught. This led me to reflect more about myself and my home country and to think about how we could improve our support for children at home with our organisation in the future.

One of my biggest goals is to acquire the financing for at least one well-equipped nursery school. Only the Togolese upper class can put their children in the few private crèches and day-care facilities. Otherwise, children must be looked after elsewhere. That’s why I was sent to preschool early and to elementary school after just one year.

Paul and his friend Komla are standing next to a child.
Paul and Komla at their project in Agové

...from an initiative to an approved organisation.

Back in Togo: My experiences in the Berlin day-care centre have engendered much more respect for myself and my work with SEDO-Togo. And the work is carrying on: I have taken the steps required to register SEDO-Togo as an association. At the moment we are working mainly in the village of Agové, where we are looking to improve access to primary education. We have already found sponsors for some children to finance school fees. Currently a pen friendship is developing between a class in a Berlin school and a school class in Agové.

Thanks to a donation from the Berlin pupils, we have already completed a hygiene project.But we have many other ideas too: We would like to build more classrooms and a library, as well as fund the process of getting birth certificates for as many children as possible where these are required for official school-leaving certificates. In any case, I have my weltwärts volunteer service to thank for SEDO-Togo having grown from what was just an initiative among friends into a well-recognised national organisation.