I grow up in densely populated Kreuzberg. Then as now it’s a melting pot of cultures; a wealth of lifestyle concepts and ways of thinking come together in daily interactions. Here’s where I go to school and train professionally, help set up a carpentry workshop and complete training as a master carpenter. The neighborhood gives a home to so many different life forms, and teaches me how enriching diversity can be. I work actively and passionately with many others to prevent the destruction of the district. And yet it is just this variety and the resulting conflicts that give me the impetus to change.
Most profound insight: “Diversity is demanding. Monotony, however, is dull, even fatal.”
The daily life of many people here is marked by a lack of prospects. As an aid worker, I advocate at their side for a better life, more independent and more self-reliant. I begin training young people as carpenters for the German Development Service (DED). But I quickly learn that they want something else: support in pursuing their very own paths. Jointly with the Salesians of Don Boscos, I establish a center for business start-ups. It offers the people more extensive possibilities to take their lives into their own hands. And assists them in entering the labor market – through the present day.
Strongest impression: “Cada cabeca é um mundo / Everyone needs to follow their own path.”
Back in Berlin, studies in psychology and systemic consultancy prepare the way for me into the world of work as a consultant. I support small companies in projects, for instance in Mozambique and Angola. I stick with vocational education and my craft. For four years, my work keeps leading me back to the Cap Verde Islands. Many small crafts businesses, spread out all over the islands, struggle to survive there. Together with our local colleagues we improve cooperation and communication – first and foremost with each other. Something big develops from cooperation on a small-scale basis.
Most important insight: “You don’t need to share every belief. But respecting it is the first step towards change.”
Potsdam has become home for my family and myself; our sons, who have grown up in the meantime, are welcome guests. Old ideologies, new freedoms, spirit of optimism. Life here helps me grasp anew every day how differently people have been living in the East and West for a long time.
For the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft (CDG), later inWEnt and GIZ, I head up the program for working and studying abroad (ASA). Young people are prepared to understand and shape global interrelations. Learning, participation and responsibility to society are at the center of my work. Temporarily I am responsible for professional training in international management at the Academy for International Cooperation (AIZ). In the Development Policy Forum of the GIZ I organize dialogue events with decision makers in global policy for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Most interesting observation: “Many ministers enter the conference room with the same insecurities as you and I.”
I take over management tasks for GIZ in Cairo and Tunis. Human resources development in public administration is to be optimized in Egypt. In Tunisia and Egypt, I work on strengthening the national human rights institutions. Both countries are deeply divided politically. Integrated into the public structures, I experience the upheaval first hand. Before my eyes, Egypt splits into two camps. Tunisia makes it with difficulty to a minimum consensus.
Most sustainable realization: “Never stop looking for ways that people with extremely divergent positions can work together.”
There are currently 35% internally displaced persons and refugees living in North Iraq, around Dohuk. The economy and the people are suffering strongly from the consequences of armed conflicts. Cultures, individual destinies and difficult living conditions clash in the settlements – fertile breeding ground for conflicts. I consult regularly on behalf of GIZ in the camps for internally displaced persons for better coexistence in society and in the poor surrounding communities on community development. Issues I am also committed to in Germany, as a consultant, citizen and neighbor.
Most encouraging experience: “Even amidst great difficulty, people develop unbelievable strength.”