When the Kolping Diocesan Association Hamburg was established in 1995, we followed the suggestion of the former Social and Development Aid of the Kolping Society reg. Association (SEK) and chose Tanzania as our partner country. At the time, both the Diocesan Association Hamburg and the Kolping Society of Tanzania had some 2,000 members each. Now the Diocesan Association Hamburg has some 1,400 and the Kolping Society of Tanzania has more than 13,000 members.
There are people who keep saying that the money spent on visits should be spent better on projects. However, it is essential for our partners in Tanzania to maintain personal contact and they consider these visits as an appreciation of their work. Many friendly relations have developed.
Those visits and the information we received from SEK made us realize more and more the high-quality work that is being done by the Kolping Society of Tanzania. This work is not only recognized in the country itself but also in many other African countries.
I have recently become increasingly aware of the fact that many things in the context of development aid policy need to be questioned. This starts with the terms used by the main industrialized countries and by African elites (not the corrupt exploiters in some governments) and which have often an entirely different meaning. This becomes evident when using terms such as “development“ which is often one-sided, bearing the stamp of economic liberalism but should take more account of the cultural and spiritual resources of Africa. In this regard, we benefit from the structures of Kolping Societies since local members can develop their visions and projects against the background of the concrete situation they are facing. This should be a major aspect in our partnership work.
Walter Mahr, President of the Kolping Diocesan Association Hamburg and Representative for international partnership work