“If a lot of little people in a lot of little places do a lot of little things, they can change the face of the Earth.” The little association Paul e.V. has adopted this African proverb – and achieved a great deal. In 2017, the founder, Gertrud Schauber, was awarded the Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
In 2000, she travelled to Ghana for the second time to visit her daughter, Almuth. At that time, Almuth Schauber, a political scientist, was working for the DED (German Development Service) as a consultant to local organisations in the north of Ghana. Once again, as had happened four years earlier, the contrasts, the poverty, the social problems of marginalised groups, and the initiatives of people who were committed to education, justice, and the strengthening of women's rights and human rights made a huge impression on Gertrud Schauber. She wanted to get involved, to tell other people all about it, and to give her support.
That same year she founded Paul e.V. – Partnership for Fostering Life Journeys. The project partnerships that were then formed with three organisations in Ghana are still going today. The connections have grown and developed - at the personal level as well. This has benefited a lot of people, especially in three target groups: street children in Accra, a city of three million inhabitants; widows and their families, and thousands of other people in the poorly-educated north of the country; and people in the small community of Kreuzwertheim, who have learned a lot. Paul e.V. has succeeded in establishing “Ghana Day” as an annual event in Kreuzwertheim. A lot of people take part: schoolchildren, the mayor, church congregations, choirs and musicians, donors ... all on a voluntary basis. The proceeds go directly to the project partners in Ghana.
On behalf of transfer, Gabi Waibel spoke to Gertrud Schauber about her voluntary work.
You always made a point of bringing something back from Ghana to Kreuzwertheim. How did you go about doing that? What was your greatest success?
I have always wanted to foster understanding of other realities and ways of life. A lot of people are fearful, at least initially, of anything that is new or strange, including different cultures – and I always wanted to be a bridge between people. I wanted to show people in Kreuzwertheim that, in Ghana, the people are very likeable/lovable, even though a lot of things there are altogether unfamiliar to us.
If you want to reduce prejudice, you need a great deal of sensitivity, patience, and perseverance. So we started small - by playing some African music during a church service, for example. And we provided African food at the Ghana Days. This couldn’t be too exotic at first; otherwise no one would want to try it. As time went on, we discovered three dishes which have become real favourites here and are greeted with enthusiasm:
African chicken curry, a peanut hotpot with pork, and red red, a vegetarian bean stew with African spices. In this way, people grow increasingly curious and become more open and eventually develop understanding for other things/people/places. At our 2019 Ghana Day, we were able to make a live video call to Ghana for the first time, thanks to Internet technology. My daughter, Almuth, interpreted for us. Richard Alandu from FISTRAD was able to speak directly to our visitors in Kreuzwertheim and tell them that, according to the latest count, several thousand young people have been able to successfully complete vocational training with the support of Paul e.V. Incidentally, I was especially moved by Richard Alandu that day. When he recognised me on the screen, he spontaneously called me "Mum". I was a bit irritated at first, but then I was very pleased, because it shows how close we have become through working together on our project. And that makes me very happy.
The association is inseparable from you and your family and evidently means a lot to you. What do you think the future holds for Paul e.V.?
I gave up being the president recently. We have found a very good new and younger team to continue our work. I am very happy about that. And our partner organisations are on a stable footing too. In some cases, successors of the founders have now assumed responsibility there as well. We are extremely lucky to have a second generation of good and reliable partners in Ghana. This is so important, and it makes me feel confident that the projects are sustainable and will continue to operate successfully in the future.
This articel is published in transfer volume 02/2021.Further information on the partner organisations WOMGhana, FISTRAD, and CAS can be found at: www.paul-ev.com