Togo. ‘The nicest place in West Africa’, says Wiki-travel. A country in colonial times first dominated by the Germans, followed by the British and the French (British Togoland later acceded to what came to be named ‘Ghana’) and finally ‘just’ the French. This morning I got an email from Mr. Bassa Massaguesa, founder of the non-governmental organization ADHEC This is all fact stuff. But why I was so excited was caused that I couldn’t remember on what count we were, adding Togo to the list of countries. I still don’t know, I’d like to keep the magic of a wild guess!
What I suddenly realized - I try to keep this sub-conscious most of the time - was that we have grown tremendously in the past 3 years. Anno 2010 Amaidi was ‘volunteering in India’, lead by two staff (my wife Jansi and myself), with a handful of partners in India and a bedroom office. Today, 2013, Amaidi is ‘international’, run by close to a hundred people in 25 or so countries in 4 continents and every second week a new project partner in countries we already work in and every 1-2 months a new country opening up! Mindblowing, if I really let this sink in.
And our Amaidians! All sorts, genders, faiths, backgrounds, professions, ages, colors and designations. I still design the ‘digital signature’ for all newcomers, so I still keep a tab somehow on what’s coming in the front door. Two years ago or so we still had a horrific attrition rate, we’re able to keep most of us on board, many that work with us have been doing so for over a year, which is no mean accomplishment if you consider that I haven’t physically met more than 5% of the people we are working with and almost none of us - unless we are living in the same city - meets up with one another beyond email, Facebook (had some awesome chats!) and - occasionally - Twitter. Our culture, the Amaidian culture if you wish, is so unique that I will write about it in a separate blog post. Later. Enough to say that I feel - even though we haven’t been a commercial success by all measurements - that our community is what all of us appreciate most of all. If that wasn’t there, we wouldn’t be there. For me everyone at Amaidi is the 'foam on the beer' or the 'cream on the cappuccino’, if you like that better. And with everyone who steps in new, such as last week Sheeraz, our new Asia Desk Coordinator and Opi, our new country team coordinator for AMAIDI Indonesia, I feel like a kid in a candy store. Every time again. Aweful, isn’t it? But true. And I love it!
Back to Africa, the continent I learned to love so much. I’ve never been further south than South-Egypt (and that, say some, doesn’t count, that’s Arabia!). Africa where my most active country teams are, the fastest growing ‘new entrants’, a complex continent too. Seems that when I will be finally able to visit the countries I work in, I have to wear the shiniest shoes. Business etiquette. So I heard.
I love Togo even before we have on-boarded Mr. Bassa Massaguesa and I even know which countries border in the East, West and North. South is the ocean, that’s all I need to know. Mr. B, thank you for the thrill you gave me today. Am already looking forward to what is going to happen tomorrow!
Will you join me?
Want to write on Amaidi’s blog? Please do! We are extremely open to guest posts, as long as they are personal (non-commercial) and polite. Amaidi is all about responsible volunteering, travel and social investment. But if your tale is simply about what keeps you busy and engaged, you’re invited too.
Compose, Submit & We will take care of the rest!
Camille van Neer - Founder Amaidi
amaidi: Here’s a short introduction of Naomi Hoefs, our AMAIDI Netherlands coordinator. We’re proud to have Naomi working with us. And it’s great fun too!
My name is Naomi and I am 23 years young. Since 2012 I am part of the
Amaidi team, and as most Amaidians I have been volunteering in India
myself. An experience that I will never forget, and one that I would like
to recommend to anyone.
Instead of writing a whole testimonial about myself I hope the picture
speaks for itself and can give you an idea of who I am.
When you have any questions or would like to get in touch, please feel free
to contact me at email@example.com.
Saturday evening -
I am asking my twins (10) Arjuna and Barati: ‘What are the three most important things in your life right now’. Barati: 1) my mum and dad; 2) my brother; 3) a horse. Arjuna: 1) my dad; 2) my friends; 3) the yummy cheeks of our dog Browny. ‘Imagine a super school’, I ask next. ‘What would it look like?’ My son doesn’t even want to consider. He hates everything that starts or ends with ‘school’. My daughter says: ‘It has grassland with sheep on it and lots of flowers; with kind teachers and not more than 23 students in a class room; only science (no other topics) and classes from Mon-Fri from 8am till 3pm. Ah yes, and a large playground, many things to play with and we must be able to see the sunset.’ That’s my daughter Barati.
What do I learn from this?
First: school life is not in my children’s top three. What is is found in their direct environment (and imagination, as far as the horse goes). Second: what is important in (my) children’s life is: relationship. Third: a super school is super mostly for what it is not: a please to learn; but more for what it is: a place to be (happy and enjoy). And of course with kind teachers!
I’ve been thinking of designing a school for the future. But to be honest: I think we won’t have schools anymore in that future. At least not the schools we call ‘schools’ at present. Schools will (hopefully) be centers in the community (again), where people from all ages and walks of life learn (lifelong).
I hope to wake up one morning and know how to draw a plan. For this not-school-school of the future.
I’ll let you know when I start, so you can consider thinking along.
The future is of all of us.
Do you like chatting with a random stranger after reading the above? And this is nothing compared to other stuff I’ve read (don’t!). What’s da kick?
http://Tommy Sandhu's Best Bits -
http://Tommy Sandhu’s Best Bits
Where you can hear how Tommy and the team celebrate all the ache bache out there, and prepare for the heat wave heading our way!
Entertainment and celebrity chat from the world of Tommy Sandhu and wise words of wisdom from the ‘Muttar of Fact’.