About German-based Letsema Partners and Projects
- The Network of NGOs »Future Life / Zukunft Leben« started in 2007 as a follow up of a preventional program in a smaller place called Ostrhauderfehn
(11 000 inhabitants). The program was funded by European Union in order to support pedagogical programs aimed at learning to deal with racism, violence and drug abuse.
After some interventions of governmental institutions (municipality, local parliament) a group of local people decided to establish an NGO and to be independent from
government. The grassroots NGO started with various exploratory groups to find out the need of the community especially on the field of education and for young people.
Parents organized a workshop about concepts for a »good school«. Others started to screen the situation of young people around our community. After the first year the NGO,
we found a small »shop« in the centre of the village and decided to declare it our community centre for NGOs who needed or were interested to use and share space.
It is now called the »Moin« (which the German or common local way of greeting each other like hello). MOIN centre offers venue for small seminars and sorts of meetings up to 25 persons including serving as small office where volunteers always meet. We currently have two young people serving a full one year voluntary service sponsored by the German government. MOIN proved very necessary to coordinate various community activities between various groups, It is not limited for use by members only, but many more people and organizations often request to share r host their activities within MOIN including parent boards, parties, etc. »Future Life - Zukunft Leben« received an award from the German government for the outstanding preventional work in the »land of ideas«.
- Agency »Freiwilligen Service Ostrhauderfehn« / Volunteer Agency: The agency is run on full time basis by a coordinator with 80% of the salary sponsored by the Federal German Government. The agency also recently has three additional volunteers: two with a 25% job and one with a 50% job. The agency is looking for volunteers in the area for various fields of interest such as sports, culture, education, social questions etc. The volunteers analyzed the needs of NGOs and governmental organizations and created profiles which are published monthly in newspapers and flyers including. Many volunteers respond weekly and the agency promote them to NGOs and different public institutions. Interested applicants mainly get contact to women or senior citizens. Recently the agency started to promote a project on voluntary year in Germany and abroad, especially to those who are coming from the community and later will return there. It has proved meaningful as it exposes volunteers to additional adventures including working in close contact with peer-leaders, who equally proved to offer voluntary work in a special way.
- Educational program »network family«: There is a longer tradition of courses, seminars and lectures for adults like the »folkes schoolen« (something like non-formal learning or adult education) in Scandinavia. MOIN is also a public space for the network family offering non formal learning sessions. The »Volkshochschule« operates on agreeable conditions, sometimes making it restrictive or simply excluding many more interested or potential participants. »MOIN« therefore through the network family offers additional courses as a door to the main courses in the »Volkshochschule«. There are lectures, contacts with politicians, excursions to interesting places anywhere, study circles for interested participants, etc, and these most of the additional ventures are for free and without any restriction concerning the number of participants, etc. This program is published two times every year. Most meetings are held in the »MOIN«.
- MIRANTAO: This NGO worked over 25 years in international cooperation with social initiatives in Brazil and during the past five years also with groups from South Africa including the Golden Youth Club based in Winterveld in Pretoria and the GeBraSa team comprising learners and teachers drawn from schools around Mabopane township also within Pretoria. The NGO started with support of local projects in Brazil (workshops, kindergarden, trainings, networks, congresses), and then organized meetings of multipliers from Germany and Brazil, added meetings of young people of both countries and tries now to influence local, national and international policies of cooperation especially between South and North. They continue to support social projects with donations, but now we are focused more on »education for sustainable development«. MIRANTAO received an award by UNESCO for their work as a »UN-decade-project«.
- Peer-Leader-International: Since 2005 a team of youth volunteers commit to learn from one another as youth leaders and multipliers. They received basic leadership development workshops outside the normal school curriculum which includes a lot of games, role-plays, discussions and different information. After a year they started to identify their own topics, create projects, reflect on the ideas and develop a sense of service for the community or finding roles on how they can motivate other young people. At the moment they are working in three different teams and eight subgroups. They created a theatre about climate change, promote change through singing rock music, offer sports-activities with a mobile equipment, hold workshops on HIV/Aids and sexuality, promote good food with a mobile snack-bar, influence politicians and policies, learn how to use media effectively, have permanent presentations locally and nationally, support students participation, etc. It has always been interesting that these activities and ideas are shared or communicated with local and international partners in both Brazil and South Africa through the Peer-Leader-International project. This project recently also received an award by UNESCO for outstanding work as a »UN-decade-project«. The project also received an award from the German government for the innovative international work in the »land of ideas«. The project is run by the MIRANTAO NGO but mostly led by young volunteers who are assisted by other eight youth volunteers placed in Germany, Brazil and South Africa every year and supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
- Democracy and volunteers: Within our grassroots and international network of NGOs we discuss the question: which role could volunteers play in democracy? We also expand this critical question to explore whether or not volunteers could do and be seen as professionals or simply that they assist professionals, especially in field of education. In our NGO network we have acknowledged that energy is coming from youth volunteers and such must be utilized as the necessary power to change societies, especially the educational approaches, and to contribute towards education for a sustainable development and a shared future. We also believe that local people have to participate and even lead the ongoing debates about »why is learning important?« Not only because disadvantaged learners or pupils must go to school to learn but must explore how their learning contribute to build true democracies elsewhere worldwide in which ALL people participate freely. Therefore, we also link the movements in countries in Europe with those in the South including Africa and South America, because sustainable development cannot exclude the majority of poor countries or ignore their valuable contributions in order to create a common standard of living or sustainable livelihoods. We always encourage our volunteers to unite and work for democracy, and to understand that governments all over needs volunteers as partners to realize a better future for all people.
- As we proved to be a strong grassroots movement operating in small communities and cities to influence what is happening in communities and governments, through locally accessible places such as »MOIN«, recently in Ostrhauderfehn an idea aimed at establishing or formalizing several community initiatives into a formidable local organization was discussed and it's still considered for what kind of future we see for small NGO. Some of the people see our initiatives as a direct way of building democracy locally with a taste of international influence. There is also proof that virtually all our local and international projects somehow impact on public policies and the could be more impact on the direction of educational systems as long as young people continue to take the lead as volunteers in several local and international initiatives.