In the period from 28.01.2019 until 01.02.2019, fourteen representatives of civil society organizations, grantees in the small grant program "Activate", were on a study visit to Germany.
During the study visit, they had a chance to visit the following organizations and institutions:
- Aktion Mensch, organization from Bonn
- Helping Hands, organization from Cologne
- Landtag North Rhine-Westphalia, state parliament Düsseldorf
- Junge Stadt Junge Stadt, organization from Cologne
- Save me Bonn - a refugee initiative from Cologne
- Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund North Rhine-Westphalia, office in Cologne
- Fairtrade Germany, from Cologne
The 5-day study trip to Germany was the best way for our beneficiaries to gather new information about EU standards and how things are managed in such country by the relevant EU organizations. Almost all target areas were taken into account and we managed visiting interesting organizations. Also it was very important for us to provide them more knowledge about how to get connected with authorities and use their sources and help properly. Our beneficiaries got boost from this trip and many new ideas, practices and information were shared. Also, new knowledge was gained and new ideas for future cooperation were shared.
From our questioner about the 5-day study trip of our beneficiaries had positive comments about the study trip as well as the meetings we had. They are very interested in sharing their knowledge with their colleagues and to introduce the new ideas they have gathered.
When it comes to influencing the decision making processes they have new knowledge of how to organize themselves, to have clear goal, to use proper mechanisms, to have will to succeed in their goal, to know how to lobby etc. General conclusion is that in order to succeed in your goals you have to have good relationship and connections with the relevant entities.
Having heard new approaches and practices how civil organizations contact and connect with local/national bodies, our participants have been encouraged to improve their approach to all of this. Most of them think that nowadays they are on good path to connect and to get help from their local/national bodies.
All of them are willing to share their impressions and what they have learned during this study trip with their colleagues. Not only that they will share all lessons learned from the study visit, but they will try to incorporate their new ideas and practices in their everyday work.
Aktion Mensch, organization from Bonn consists of three major areas that are closely related:
The Social Lottery: More than four million people play regularly. The participants can win money - with their lot they support at the same time social projects.
The promotion: With the money from the lottery, Aktion Mensch promotes projects for people with disabilities, children and young people - up to 1,000 projects a month. Since its inception, Aktion Mensch has given around 4 billion euros to projects.
The Enlightenment: The Aktion Mensch informs with actions and campaigns about inclusion - the natural coexistence of people with and without disabilities.
All three areas work on the common goal of Aktion Mensch to achieve greater inclusion. So that the WE wins.
During their presentation they have presented their activities, their management structure and how they gather funds for realization of their project. Most of the participants were very interested in the lottery and how other people react to their initiatives.
" I liked the visit very much, because of the great concept they are practicing for providing funding for further support of the CSOs in Germany. This model secures huge portion of money needed for their sustainability, but also for the sustainability of the whole sector." – Vesna Avramovska, MATA
The have very strong support from the citizens who are socially aware. Also very positive thing was that they support and help people with disabilities to realize their dreams and to be treated equally in the society.
Helping Hands, organization from Cologne.
This organization helps people in trouble and works exclusively on a voluntary basis. It provides direct help from hand-to-hand. On daily basis they provide food, hygiene products as well as help for the homeless people to get to medical help. Some of them even manage to find their path back to the society with constant and long term work on themselves. It organizes collection campaigns for donation transports to war zones and various relief missions in refugee housing
"Small organization but - Real heroes! Working directly on the terrene with most vulnerable people in need. "– Ana Karamandi, Ganimed
Some of the participants were very interested in how they got their idea to help the homeless people, and they manage their group of people who help them. Another interesting thing about which we had discussion was the process of long-term help for these people and resocialization. We got information that they are helped by medical centres and public institutions, but not many successful stories are behind them.
Landtag North Rhine-Westphalia, state parliament Düsseldorf
The Landtag is the seat of parliament, that is, the people's elected representatives of different parties. The state legislature forms the so-called "Legislative", its main tasks are the legislation, the adoption of the state budget and the control of the government.
During our tour in the state parliament we have been introduced to German history and parliament history. Another interesting thing was the cooperation that state parliament has with civil sector and public sector. Everyone who has interest in participating in one of their meeting as listener, they can have proper approval and actually be there and follow their discussions. It's common thing for civil sector representatives to present their ideas to some of the parties and to influence on their realization and to get the right support. All in all, this state parliamentary is open for different ideas and initiatives which can be good for the society
Junge Stadt Junge Stadt, organization from Cologne
Junge Stadt Junge Stadt is a non-profit association, which focuses on young people and young adults aged 15 to 25 years. Together they want to change, improve, move Cologne. Various projects and actions are behind them and many more are expected to come. Currently their project group frank and free is focused on building 100 ramps for Cologne for more accessibility and gives young more fulfilled and easier life.
On our meeting with Junge Stadt we have the opportunity to see one of their latest innovations lego ramp. It is a custom made ramp made from the popular lego bricks, used for persons in wheelchair. These lego ramps are meant to help them to get on high pavements or to overcome other obstacles. They are easy to make and easy to carry them around. On this project youngster have introduced their ideas in order to help their friends and relatives who have such problems and to make their life easier
"I am impressed, how does a social youth worker through volunteer work manage to motivate young people, to include them from the idea through a plan and action to be realized. A very applicable example is how with enthusiastic and positive approach the doors of the youth are being open and they realize themselves. It also showed how problems and changes are being made through a creative process." – Lence Cicimova, Planetum
Save me Bonn - a refugee initiative from Cologne
Save me Bonn is committed to accepting refugees and integrating them into German society.
Their work includes many people involved as honorary mentors for individual refugees or refugee families. One of their activities is to create strong relationship between the newcomers and the locals they match one local person with newcomer. The match is for the newcomer to learn something new about the society in which they are going to live, to adapt to it and to integrate with the others. This matched pairs communicate and meet on weekly basis, sometimes more often and have shown as good method for adaptation.
"Long years of experience in their work, influential and positive." – Eleonora Veljanoska, Peroska, YFN
Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund North Rhine-Westphalia, office in Cologne
The Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund is one of the largest, nationwide aid organizations.
Over 1.2 million people support him, of which about 170,000 in NRW. The wide range of services includes: medical services, emergency services, first aid course maintenance, civil protection, school medical service, FSJ and BFD wishes cars and more.
"The detailed history, the activities that they realize through the foundation were for greetings, many activities and creative practical projects from which I have most liked the vehicle that fulfills the patient's last wish." – Blagica Koceva, Todorova, Vizija.
Fairtrade Germany, from Cologne
Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. When farmers can sell on Fairtrade terms, it provides them with a better deal and improved terms of trade. This allows them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future. Fairtrade offers consumers a powerful way to reduce poverty through their everyday shopping.
"This non-profit organization was one of the more interesting in which we saw how a partnership is being built up between manufacturers and consumers who meet fairtrade standards" – Tome Krstevski, Global