First Call for Children 2012

This is a report by Gitta Zimmermann, a CNVC Certified Trainer, after returning from Ethiopia in January, 2012

I believe some people in Ethiopia got the NVC Virus.

For a bit more than a week I have been back home from our training in Ethiopia “First call for children 2012” with young people who live on streets. Please go on reading if you want some information about this time.

This training is a follow-up projects of the training “First call for children 2010” Ruhpolding, Germany. One of the participants asked me if we could come to Ethiopia to give a training in Addis Abeba.

After preparing the project for six month we met in Addis with 6 trainers and assistants: Mair Alight, USA, Adam Michaelides, USA, Jean Baptiste Ndikuriyo, Burundi, Joe Besojoe, Uganda, Samuel Korallus, Sinnstiftung, Germany and Gitta Zimmermann, Germany. Bekele Debalke is the man in Addis who invited and prepared the workshop there in Ethiopia and who has been working with street children and young homeless for years, he has his own organization.

After the crowded opening day we worked in three groups, each had about 30 participants. In the afternoons we were invited to different organisations to hold a training like Rotary club, oldest School of Addis, German church with its school, a doctor wanted a training for his employees, so that a training on a week-end will be scheduled for him and his people, also further schools invited us to work with the teachers, additionally NGOs, one from the GIZ (German society for international cooperation), the YMCA. I was there for only one week, the others stay on for 2-5 weeks.

I was working with the young people. At the beginning I asked them what they would wish for if a miracle woman came to them: one wanted to become a musician, one a business man, all the others wanted to learn in order to share it with their families, neighbours and friends, to gain inner freedom and to get out of their current situation.

Many of them seemed to be obedient: on my question in between how they felt they often answered: I am happy because my father wants it, … because my father said so…

Only slowly - initiated by many role plays - they started to sense their own feelings and needs. At the end they said that they wanted to start a group on their own with their peers and said I will be astonished about NVC in Addis when we will come back next year. One said “You are my mother”. I was so deeply touched how these young people absorbed our experience with NVC. Joe from Uganda was collaborating with me and he got an invitation to coffee and friendship already after the first break. He will continue working with this group the next two weeks and will be able to plant so many seeds. I am confident that Joe will build even more bridges.

On my final day I gave all my gifts to the street children, like football shoes and footballs. Some men from outside came in, in former times I would call them a gang. They had a “different” look and Bekele told me that they were not “harmless”. We talked with them and all they wanted was a similar ball I gave to the children, because they belong to the community as well. When I think at them I get sad, because all they want is a white leather football with little blue starts on. In the meantime I sent a ball to Addis and I want to work with them the next year, when we come back.

In a big school (3000 students) we worked with some of the teachers and the topic in a role play was: I am hungry therefore I cannot concentrate. The questions of the teachers gave me the impression that they got infected by the virus, although we heard one teacher saying: “This is nice, but in our third world it is not applicable”. I regret that I did not answer to the word “third”, because I am so much longing for equality. I am confident, I will have another chance.

One evening, at a cultural event, we met the CEO of the world families organization. We will contact her for cooperation.

Last Friday we celebrated Epiphanias, the biggest church event in Ethiopia. A lot of military was present, more than in the other years as Bekele said and only a few tourists which was due to the “accident” at the border to Erithrea, where some tourists were killed. Besides watching the wonderful colours of the traditionel costumes and dresses we took the chance and talked to a journalist (he will be in the training as well) and two TV reporters. Almost all of us trainers got the chance to answer questions about our intention of being in Addis and what NVC is about. I could include and repeat some of the ideas the patriarch said in his official speech some minutes before in my own NVC wording like “living in the now and no discrimination and transforming conflicts”. I could include my work with the street children. I was very much speaking out of my heart, I am happy about my authenticity. We were on TV the very same day.

We will go on working there with a microcredit group, may be a little NVC book will be published, the present trainers are working on it. And I will invite 3 of these people to Germany “First call for children 2012 in Ruhpolding”, in Oktober 2012. We plan to do a further training in Addis next year.

Which of my needs are satisfied during and after this stay? I do not know where to start: Cooperation between the trainers: already after 3days we had the impression of knowing each other for a long long time and cooperate in harmony. Further: I can give, I can learn, feel adventure (our old squeaking car was once not running and we pushed it to get it started, I had animals in my bed and Mair no toilet seat, the shower was to count the drips, our “fridge” was an old chair…), deep contact, gratitude… what a great time we had.

I thank all of those who supported me in any way, first of all the engagement of all trainers working there voluntarily. I had the impression that we were just one, working on the same aim, in joy and laughter and tears and as a net. And then your input, the trainers group, I appreciate, even before we left with your connecting energy. And thanks to those who offered me woodworking tools, books (merci to paddle dance), shoes and balls; I believe I could create a playful and joyful and respectful atmosphere. For the willingness to let me take and enjoy this adventure I want to say thanks to my family. It has been a wonderful week and an enriching experience for me, I feel deeply touched.