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Sport for development
Vijana amani pamoja – Together for Peace

... that's what the abbreviation "VAP" stands for. It's the name of a football club in Kiambiu, a slum in eastern Nairobi. 22-year-old Kenneth Otieno, captain of a football team, coaches young football players here – young people whose opportunities and choices are otherwise nil –, helping them to get a new perspective on life.

At VAP, they have the chance to interact and socialise with one another, and they learn about non-violent conflict resolution – the same as Kenneth Otieno did.

Since it was founded in 2002, VAP has become a successful club with numerous activities going far beyond the football pitch. The BMZ is supporting VAP through its Youth De­vel­op­ment through Football programme. VAP's work covers a vast range of issues, from HIV prevention and efforts against crime and corruption all the way to helping its members go to school and get some vocational training.

Kenneth Otieno hopes that sport will help the youngsters who he works with to find out what they want to do with their lives, and to start believing in themselves. Some of his good friends turned to crime – and they paid for it with their lives. For Kenneth, their memory is an incentive to continue his work.

 

Helping people to help themselves
Dalit women in Rajasthan

Which children still need their vaccinations? Which women are pregnant? Which family needs more food? Here we see women looking closely at a chart showing the social situation in their village.

"The women drew the chart themselves, they came up with the symbols themselves, because their reading and writing skills are minimal," reports BMZ staff member Dr. Antje Göllner-Scholz, who took this picture in spring 2011 in the Indian State of Rajasthan. Every three months, the women use the chart to analyse what has changed for their families.

The picture was taken in a Dalit village in the Thar Desert. The Dalit, descendants of India's indigenous people, are at the bottom of the caste system and suffer massive social discrimination. Dalit families often live in great poverty, far away from schools and health posts. They are not allowed to use public wells or to take part in village meetings.

In Rajasthan, the Malteser International aid agency is helping Dalit families in 50 villages to improve their lives, with a special focus on empowering girls and women. The project is supported by the BMZ. As many as 100 village women, for instance, have already been trained as health assistants, and children's vaccination rate has risen from 40 to 73 per cent.

"I think this picture is a powerful illustration of how Dalit women are able to help themselves if they are given the chance and just a tiny bit of outside assistance," says Dr. Göllner-Scholz.

 

Rural development and food security
Soap bubble magic

The January sun is very hot in the Danakil valley, deep below sea level, in northern Ethiopia. The outlines of the village seem to disappear in the shimmering air. But the kids still whirl about, just as boisterous as kids everywhere. They don't care about the heat. Their home is said to be the hottest place on earth.

The landscape is breathtaking with its glistening salt lakes, boiling sulphur springs and active volcanos. But this little village of the Afar people is far away from the tourist track. The region remains unsafe because of the ongoing conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

"Conditions are really extreme," says Anna Kollmann, as she talks about her study trip to this inhospitable part of East Africa. "Humans apart, there are hardly any living creatures. In the desert you feel like you're back in the 15th century. People dig chunks of salt out of the ground using wooden poles and spades and then carry them off on their camels."

The village on the edge of the desert has no running water. No toilets. And of course no liquid soap for washing. Or for blowing soap bubbles. So there is much curiosity and excitement about the little gift the German guests have brought. It is not long until the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas feast.

Anna Kollmann has brought some balls and Frisbees too. But these kids have never seen such things. At first they struggle to throw and catch them. But making soap bubbles is instant fun. Anna Kollmann smiles and says: "For me, the beauty is this: wherever you go, children's laughter is just the same."

 

Education as a human right
Little fighters

Kids are sitting quietly at their desks and concentrating on the day's lesson. No romping about, no noise or giggling, even though there is no teacher around. Only a soft murmur fills the small classroom in the convent near Kalaw, Myanmar. Nothing can distract the children. Definitely not the foreign-looking woman who enters, watches for a while and takes a picture.

The classroom is small and dark. The kids are sitting close to the door so they can catch what little daylight there is. Light-coloured Thanaka paste, a traditional salve made from tree bark, is meant to protect them from UV rays.

"Many parents just don't have the means to support all of their children. So they send the girls to a convent, where they are cared for and get a good education," says Katja Hummel, who took the picture.

The children she meets on her travels never cease to fascinate Hummel, the BMZ desk officer in charge of Myanmar. She was posted in Afghanistan for a while. Her last trip to Myanmar was a private one. "What really interests me is seeing coun­tries in transition. I want to see the reality on the ground. I want to know the people we talk about in our work."

When Katja Hummel tells us about the children in Myanmar, there is admiration in her voice. "In every child, there is something of a little fighter. They have an uncompromising will to learn, to evolve. As if they sense that learning is a way out of their current lives."

Katja Hummel may never know what the children in the little convent classroom will become. "Realistically, there is little chance they will go to secondary school." But who knows. Perhaps the nuns have given these three little fighters just what they need to go even further.

 

Economic development
Made in Benin

"Watching people work can tell you so much. But taking pictures is hard. Especially if you're part of a visiting delegation, they see you as an 'important person'." Franziska Tröger describes the traveller's dilemma: You want to capture the experience. But you don't want to intrude. So this picture is taken through a veil of threads. It shows a cotton factory in Parakou, Benin.

Cotton is Benin's most im­por­tant export staple. Franziska Tröger visited Benin in February 2011 to see the entire production process: picking, stone removal, thread processing. "Africa exports most of its cotton raw. So the factory in my picture is really the exception. It processes cotton to make workwear and towels – some for export and some to be sold locally," Franziska Tröger explains. "When you talk to the workers, you see the pride they take in their product. The factory's blue-green work uniform is even seen as some kind of status symbol."

But Franziska Tröger leaves the premises with mixed feelings. "This operation is heavily subsidised by the Benin gov­ern­ment. Right now it would not be able to survive in a market en­vi­ron­ment." But this is the foreigner's view. The workers see things very differently. The machines may be fifty years old. But they still work fine. And every pair of trousers leaving this factory is made in Benin, using cotton grown in their own coun­try.

It is this local view Franziska Tröger wants to convey. "I feel it puts our role into perspective. So it's more meaningful than a posed photo of some official delegation." This picture is about people at work. But it's also a glimpse into a possible future when people in Europe and America will be able to buy trousers with the label "Made in Benin".

 

Protecting the environment
Waiting for the day's catch

Local women sit in the shadow of the large boat pulled up on a beach outside Dakar. The boat shelters them from the searing heat of the mid-day sun. Soon the men will return and land their boats, perhaps heavy with the day's catch. Every one of these boats is a piece of folk art, each sporting its own pattern of vibrant colour.

What will the men bring today? Will they have large crates on board, brimming with fish? Or will today's catch barely fill our buckets? The waters all along West Africa's coasts are overfished. "Fishermen are finding it harder to make a living," says Camilla Gendolla, BMZ coun­try officer in charge of Senegal. "Watching the people at the beach you see that very many have to get by on very little."

Many fishermen come from rural Senegal. They have left their homes to find a job. The competition is intense. Registration has shown that there are more than 16,000 fishing boats in Senegal. So there is little to be had for the fishermen. But little is better than nothing.

Germany supports the efforts of Senegal and its neighbours to improve their fishery sectors. The objective is sus­tain­able use of marine resources. Boats are controlled by a satellite-based system. "Fishermen are just not comfortable having an electronic chip on their boat," says Camilla Gendolla. "They feel controlled and they believe it's foreign fishing fleets that are really responsible for overfishing. They don't see that no one can make a decent living if too many are competing for a limited resource."

Perhaps, a couple of years from now, women will still be sitting in the shadow of a boat and worrying about what the men will bring back. But maybe fishing families will then be able to process their fish and bring it to market themselves. And make a good living from what the men bring in with their colourful boats.