History

After its foundation in 2001 and a time of collecting first experiences of intercultural exchange with indigenous communities in the Amazon region in Ecuador, the organization steadily developed itself from an initiative of young people and their interest in contexts of development cooperation. It all began with an indigenous Shuar community in the "Oriente" (the East) of the country, which has converted its economy on ecotourism and sustainable agriculture, and welcomes volunteers who want to actively participate and learn about their specific way of life.

We were able to gain many partner communities, organizations and initiatives over the years. The cooperation with the first partner community Arutam has now been completed, since it has successfully established ecotourism as an independent economic sector and is independently managing it on their territory. In particular, the establishment of the “Anderer Dienst im Ausland” (Alternative Civilian Service Abroad) in two communities in 2003 opened up new opportunities of cooperation. Furthermore, many dedicated young people have visited the partner communities in the context of several weeks to several months-long “unregulated” visits and such has given major impetus for the association’s work. The participation in the “weltwärts”-program by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) since 2008 has gone along with considerable professionalization and a significant expansion of our local capacities – for us one more important qualitative change.

The entry into the South-North program in 2016 was also of great importance to us in terms of mutual cultural exchange and cooperation based on partnership. In the summer of 2018, 2 young people from the project areas were able to begin their federal voluntary service in Germany for the first time.

In addition to the continuous presence of several volunteers in our partner communities, we were able to increase the number of our active members significantly and put our work on a broader basis. In the meantime, 20-30 people are working as active members besides the volunteers for the organization and assume fixed tasks. Our circle of supporters has grown to over 150 people. In semi-annual meetings of the active members we determine the strategic direction of the association’s work. Small groups work throughout the year as a team on their tasks, such as taking care of the local volunteers, coordination work with the partners and establishing cooperation with universities. In that way, we have managed to create a dense network of communities, cooperation partners and supporters to ensure the continued successful cooperation with our local partners, and by those means, we are able to offer the opportunity to interested young people to collect important experiences in the cultural exchange and the development policy work.