“A special closeness”

Interview with our former interns Sophia Binz and Lorenz Peh

From September to December 2018, you have been working as interns for Root Foundation. What have you specifically been working on?

Lorenz: We were mostly here to do administrative work. In the beginning, we especially helped Cheez and Patrick to draw up a long-term structure for the Root Foundation and to decide on what kind of goals Root Foundation wants to reach.

Sophia: These goals have been set especially considering the organisational structure, meaning: Which kind of positions does Root Foundation want to create in the future? How should the organisation be run? How many employees will it have in total? And what exactly should their tasks be and what their relations to each other? This plan is laid out for the next one to five years.

Lorenz: Apart from the organisational structure, we have worked on different projects, have written down a fundraising strategy and drawn up a concept of how to expand our Umwali Program. Basically, we were just assisting Cheez and Patrick who both of them have a lot of really, really great ideas. But we tried to narrow these ideas down and to formulate them in a way so that they will be realisable. Besides, we also did some minor training for the volunteers. We tried to share the experience we had made in different organisations and to assist wherever we could.

What makes Root Foundation special for you?

Sophia: I think what makes Root Foundation very special is that you see how awesome it works with just the help of a bunch of volunteers, with like six people as the core of the people that work on the everyday matter. Most important, the achievements that are realised with so limited means are incredible and the number of children who are profiting and benefiting from this organisation is very inspiring. I am very grateful that I got to see this effort on the ground in Rwanda.

Lorenz: I agree: the huge amount of time, resources and effort all the volunteers put into the work – “just to see” (in quotation marks) “children smile” and to help others – is amazing. The spirit behind the organisation really got through to us during the work here. What really touched me was that I could actually see the outcome of where we are assisting. Everybody who puts in effort at Root Foun-dation gets so much more in return just to see the Kids dancing and playing, being able to go to school. And that’s probably the most special thing about the work here at Root Foundation: the closeness to the cause we are working on together.

What will you take with you from your stay in Rwanda in general and your work at Root Foundation in special?

Lorenz: I will take with me that the work in an organisation that directly works together with its beneficiaries is never easy. There are always obstacles. Life is always a little bit harder than you imagined it to be. Also, with whatever plan you go into the work, you can assume that you are going to throw it away and that you have to work around the challenges that pop up during that journey. However, there is always a way to achieve your goal. And the work here at Root Foundation, but also the general life style of the Rwandan people has shown me that, if you have a goal and if you work towards it, no matter how harsh the circumstances are, if there is enough willpower behind it, then you are able to achieve what you want.

Sophia: Something entirely different, it is just a thought and it sounds a bit cliché. But being here for three and a half months just gave me another reality check about what I already obviously knew: that as a European I live an extremely privileged life. It is also something that I have been dealing with theoretically in my studies for the past three years. Still, as a person who comes to Africa for the first time, it is just a different feeling to see the life as it is here, especially the big differences to what we are used to from Europe. And I think it is very valuable to go home with this, with these experiences, just to see my own life in another perspective.

What are your future plans?

Sophia: We will try to make the best out of this gap year, hopefully do some more internships, try to learn a lot and either next year or the year after it, continue to study by picking up a master study, probably related to International Development.

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