What makes someone a “good person”?

What makes someone a "good person"? There are many possibilities, but one we can all agree on is empathy! The ability to feel for and support others, no matter who they are or where they come from. Volunteering itself is an expression of empathy, as volunteers go abroad to help and learn from different people all around the world. Learn, how international friendship can change the lives of many.

Today we are having an interview with Messan from AGERTO (Association Germano-Togolaise). He explains, how international friendship, dedicated volunteers and the good hearts of people all around the world, help creating a better life for many people in Togo.

Hi Messan. On your website, you show an article and pictures of the visit of the german ambassador with AGERTO. That is amazing. What is the history of german-togolese friendship and AGERTO?

The funder of AGERTO is a Togolese but he received the german citizenship and lived in Germany for as long as 15 years. There, he worked for the german legal system as a translator. German-Togolese history goes way back though.

Togo was colonised by Imperial Germany over 100 years ago and still now we do have and use the original Deutsche Eisenbahn (german-style railway system), the planted mangoes trees and the sturdy roads constructed by germans. We even have a german graveyard (Deutscher Friedhof).

AGERTO is fairly connected with germans and we work directly with the higher levels of the government and NGOs in Germany.

Some of our friends are for example churches, the german parliamentary system and with german newspapers like “Mainpost Würzburg”. We are also well-known and connected with many cities in Germany

So you’re definitely well-connected. Sure helps with your foremost goal, the education and fostering of disadvantaged youth, to secure a future for them. How exactly do you undertake this?

To that end we’ve created the learning centers where those without possibility can learn a profession without fee and after three years, take their exams. If and when they pass, they receive free machinery to start their own working place where other poor and underprivileged people can also learn from them for free.

It is a revolution.

Because those who learned free from us, must offer also give free education and teachings to those who are coming to lern from them.

AGERTO (Association Germano-Togolaise)

AGERTO-signé-minAGERTO is an non-governmental organization, founded in 1999 by the Togolese Messan Amegniho. There are four education centers in Togo (Kpalimé, Sokodé, Notsé, Kara), the biggest one in Kpalimé. We offer disadvantaged young people a free training in a profession of their choice, such as cutter, carpenter, hairdresser, welder, metal worker, wood carver or weaver. Besides, IT courses for apprentices take place in our cyber room and volunteers can offer German, French or English lessons. We have set ourselves the goal of eradicating extreme poverty in Togo, with the motto : “Success through education and practice!”

Social Impact

We get the children off the streets, give them free accommodation and education. So we are helping to counteract crime, unemployment and prostitution in Togo and we give disadvantaged young people through a high-quality training a chance in life. Hold and hope and therefore a perspective for their future is offered to them, until they can file the state certificate and master independently their life.

Sounds like the very definition of empathy: Making waves by creating the first impact. You already operate 4 education centers throughout Togo today. What are AGERTO’s goals for their future developement?

In general, our future goal is to reduce the extreme poverty. We want to stabilize and improve the lives of the poor and band them together. We achieve this by teaching them to help themselves and others.

It’s really quite a simple, yet perfectly working system

If we teach some people for free and our apprentices teach others for free in return, we are sure that in very near future there will be no one who can say I have no possibility to learn a profession or get a job, because my parents are poor. We want to reach out to many cities and communities in Togo.

There must be many people who are inspired by this vision. AGERTO is a NGO with strong international friendships. How important is the work of international volunteers for you and what do volunteers learn from working with you?

We highly appreciate international volunteers, because we challenge and improve each other’s mentality, understanding and know how. Our apprentices also learn about different cultures and what’s happening in other countries, while volunteers learn from our own culture, our hard and serious engagement, our fairness and transparence.

We integrate them into our community, which gives them the chance to greatly increase their understanding and experience.

Your Opinion: Change and improvements in life are often very hard to achieve, a country even harder to change. What would you to tell people, who are unsure if their work as volunteers can help others?

In Togo we integrate our volunteers directly into the villages, cities and our centers. We let them see the truth and put them in direct contact and cooperation with our apprentices. The volunteer are encouraged to be in contact with those who need their help.

And after a little while with us, they see how wonderful and appreciated their work, to help us save and support many other people, truly is.

There are people from everywhere in the world sending money to help countless project. This isn’t a bad thing, empathy never is, but they never go themselves and in the end they do not know what they are financing. If they come to our place, they’ll see everyday how their work and support is needed and appreciated. We are even recommended from Togo-Hilfe-Rheinbach who give us an Honor certificate.

Thank you Messan, for this honest and thought-provoking interview.

Apply Now!

So you want to learn more about AGERTO and their great volunteering opportunities? Click here for great volunteering opportunities in Togo and apply!

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