4u2 - For you too - Roland Brunner

A Visit to our Bonn Office ,  March 2001

by  Helga Tempel – forumZiviler Friedensdienst/Civil Peace Services

Looking through the last report of October 2000 I found out that not too much new has happened around the ZFD in Germany.

May be it would be boaring for  some of you to read again of some small steps forward the Civil Peace Service has done during last months. So I prefer to invite you for a short visit to the office of the forumZFD to meet people working there.

Imagine a bit ldold and  slim house in the center of the city of Bonn, only two minutes from the mainstation. In the ground floor you will find a travel agency, which of course is n o t (yet!!) working for the forumZFD. Then you follow up steep and narrow steps: In the third floor you will discover our office  with only three rather small rooms plus a kitchenette and a tiny bath-room.

Here you will meet Stefan, our fulltime Head of Office,  who is trying to keep up with lots of papers, mails and telephone calls. Since some months he is mainly engaged in finding new sources for financing our work and to win new sponsors.

His part time Assistant, Martina, is busy in dealing with all the more technical work, keeping connections to normal members, member organisations  and Members of the Board and answering questions of interested people and requests for material to be sent out for PR-work..

The person caring directly for the budget – which always appears to be too low – is Birgit, the part time book-keeper. She is engaged to keep the Board  updated with our finances and to write kind and thankful letters to donors.

If you are lucky you will also meet Maria who is caring for the practical work in our ZFD-projects and keeping contacts to the field-workers. Therefore she rather often is “on tour” visiting our teams in the South Balkans. She is rather busy  for we have twelve Peace Professionals meanwhile working in and around former Yugoslavia as volunteers of the  governmental program “ZFD within the Development Work” in a sort of public-private partership with the forumZFD.

May be you will also drop into Thomas who is helping Maria in building up contacts  between the teams and setting up a supporting network for South East Europe;  for this special  task  he is employed  for only six months.

And sometimes you might also meet one or two volunteers looking for an empty table to send out letters or do any other sort of supporting activity.

But your visit will not be completed before climbing up to the next  floor, just under the roof, to find there the “Joint Working Group/Arbeitsgemeinschaft Qualification” (“for conflict transformation / CPS), which is responsible for  the Training Course that is running for four months two times the year and in which the forum is actively involved.

Here under the roof the rooms are even smaller, but nevertheless big enough to give space for three staff-people: the General Secretary, named Martin, who is organising the Training Courses, his assistant Angelika and a special book-keeping person, Birgitta. There are two more persons, Kurt and Anthea,  as “chiefs” of the joint working group actively involved in the organisation of the training program, which means collecting applicants for the course, meeting and interviewing these people, discussing their admittance and deciding everything to make the courses run including selection of the trainers, finding the places for the course and the  facilities for the practical phase of the Training. But these people normally work at home.

You perhaps may guess already that such a sort of pilot program also needs a sort of pedagogical advice or supervision – but this is done by experienced people specially engaged for that purpose. They keep contact with the trainers, discuss the programm in advance and during the training and pay visits to the running course.

I need not explain how difficult it is to ensure the financial base for this bunch of work without which the program could  not be kept running. While most – not all -of the staff for the Training Course is paid by the government we don´t get any institutional support for the general ZFD office downstairs besides of a small percentage of the project funding that does not at all cover the administrative costs. Therefore again  and again our main problem is how to raise the necessary money and to cover the tremendous financial gap we ended up  with last year.

This is where each single member of the Board is asked for creative and inspiring ideas urgently. I will let you know about this part of our work in my next report.



4your questions and contacts: rbr(at)4u2.ch