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Voluntary commitment: Organization from Bonn sends seniors around the world

Voluntary commitment : Organization from Bonn sends seniors around the world

The Senior Expert Service draws a positive conclusion in the annual report 2018. Around 13,000 experts are involved. More and more senior citizens are „in action“ worldwide.

In a hotel in Mongolia, 7000 kilometres away, the employees in the kitchen now wear Kölsch aprons. "The hotel had serious management problems. Among other things, we created menus, set up a pizza service and provided the right equipment," reported Eckhard Horstmann, tourism merchant from Bad Honnef, on Tuesday in Bonn. He is involved with the Senior Expert Service (SES), the largest German organisation for sending volunteer professionals in retirement or during a professional break.

Last year, SES was able to increase its deployment figures and expand its expert register, according to Managing Director Susanne Nonnen. "Last year we were able to recruit a total of 1524 volunteers for SES," said Nonnen on Tuesday at the presentation of the annual report for 2018. At the end of the year, almost 13,000 experts had been registered with SES. They use their professional experience in assignments abroad as well as in projects in Germany. "We help people to help themselves," explained press spokeswoman Heike Nasdala.

SES was also able to show a positive development in its missions: According to the managing director, the experts were active in 7865 activities at home and abroad. This corresponds to an increase of more than 16 percent compared to the previous year. "For the first time, we exceeded the 2000 mark in our international operations," said Nonnen. The SES was used in 93 countries with a stable security situation, particularly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. According to Nonnen, Iran, Sudan or Venezuela belong to the "no-go areas" due to the precarious security situation.

Gynaecologist travels to Tanzania

Georgia Harder-Faigle, a retired gynaecologist and obstetrician from Bonn, travelled to South West Tanzania to a "place that is not on the map". In the Mavanga Health Center she supported the staff. "Antibiotics were used far too often, even though it was not necessary, and there was a lack of patient documentation," the 67-year-old reported. For example, blood groups of patients had to be determined again and again because they were not documented. Harder-Faigle also explained protection against sexually transmitted diseases: 21 percent of pregnant patients suffered from HIV. "It was an incomparable experience. The mission opened my eyes to the state of medicine in other countries," the doctor said.

In addition to Mongolia, Horstmann was also on duty in Kazakhstan and Georgia, providing assistance in hotels and training specialists. The former hotel owner works for the Archdiocese of Cologne as a consultant for conference hotels. He no longer wanted to take on the daily stress of being a hotel owner. "But I would like to pass my knowledge on still, said the 58-year-old. He takes part in the "Weltdienst 30+" offer of the SES, which has been in existence for two years. There, professionals can also share their experiences. In 2018, according to Nonnen, the service counted 241 assignments under this program, twice as many as in the previous year.

SES experts are also active in Germany. In 5826 assignments, experts were involved in the "New Impulses for Pupils" school programme and the "VerA" initiative to prevent drop-outs from vocational training. Jochen Gerhards, a former banker from Siegburg, works voluntarily for SES at the Windeck Comprehensive School. There he helps a school cooperative to check account statements, make bank transfers or write invoices. "The children learnskills for their lives through this school enterprise. The commitment is also good for their curriculum vitae later on," explained the 63-year-old.

The next projects are already being planned. "I will soon be helping in a women's shelter in the Moroccan desert and I am already very excited," said Harder-Faigle.

(Original text: Marie Schneider, Translation: Mareike Graepel)