Brandt School Universität Erfurt

Goat Breeding Project from Haiti receives the Commitment Award 2017

On Friday, July 7th, 2017, Brandt School students, professors, staff, and their guests celebrated a wonderful Commitment Award ceremony and a hearty farewell for the graduating students of the Class of 2017.

This year, the Brandt School’s annual Commitment Award ceremony took place at the Thuringian Center for Start-ups and Entrepreneurship (ThEx), a building designed to foster entrepreneurial spirit in Thuringia and to support initiatives and projects of young entrepreneurs. Guests and school members gathered at the ThEx in Erfurt to honor the three winning Commitment Award projects and the achievements of the students graduating. Dirk Wegler, director of the ThEx, stated “I really enjoyed the event. Our ThEx has never seen such a diverse audience before!”

The event’s keynote speech was given by Michael Hofmann, executive director of marketing at Welthungerhilfe, a German NGO fighting famine. In his speech, he pointed out that a world without hunger is neither an unrealistic pipedream nor a sure-fire success, but it is a vision worth any effort. “Es reicht!” (“It’s enough!”), was his main message. “There is enough food for everyone - hunger is not a result of the lack of food but a result of the lack of money”. Sound public policies can and must be the main measures to end hunger by 2030. Mr. Hofmann encouraged the graduating students and project applicants to be stubborn and persistent in pursuing their goals and dreams.   

To implement ideas, it is important to receive assistance in terms of expertise, finances and networks. The Commitment Award, a joint project of the Engagementpreis-Stiftung and the Brandt School, aims to support social initiatives and projects by Master of Public Policy students and alumni. Furthermore, the Commitment Award is an opportunity for our students, who are from diverse backgrounds, to work together and to use the theoretical and practical knowledge gained from their studies at the Willy Brandt School. The audience was amazed to listen to last year’s winners’ project reports and to see their videos, as they showed the remarkable success of the projects. The award winners were able to install rainwater reservoirs in dry and mountainous areas in Kyrgyzstan, to conduct computer lessons with Rasperry Pi microcomputers in a rural village in Mozambique, and to educate more than 1,000 children on the risks of child sexual abuse in Tamil Nadu, India. This year’s Commitment Award was given to three new outstanding initiatives that convinced the jury with clear-cut, ambitious and sustainable project ideas.

1st prize winners of 2017 are Master of Public Policy student Johny Hilare and his colleague Margarette Pierre-Louis with their project “Goat Breeding for Entrepreneurship”. They plan to empower young residents of Vialet, Haiti by giving out goats for breeding, which is aimed at reducing poverty. Animal husbandry is the most secured economic activity in Vialet, as residents of this locality rely on the sale of their animals. The initial 50 goats distributed among the residents are expected to reproduce soon and therefore, to ensure the sustainability of the project. The residents themselves would nominate five reputable people amongst them to form a management committee which would oversee the affairs and running scheme and manage the project.

The 2nd prize was awarded to Muhammad Usman Khan for his project “Mera Vote – Mera Mustaquil” (“My Vote – My Future”), which is based on the conclusion that a society cannot progress without the progress and equality of women Mr. Khan’s project seeks to empower women within the village of Gagh of District Khushab, Pakistan by advocating the right for women to vote. Issues of illiteracy, patriarchal norms, as well as the lack of awareness and civic engagement programs seem to be the main reasons for inequality in this area and are therefore to be tackled by his initiative.

The 3rd prize went to Matenjay Sheriff and Abraham Keita for their project “The Ballon Dieu Football Club”. Already in March 2016, they have founded an organization with the purpose of hosting football tournaments and gathering the youth for sports events in Gbanjor, Liberia. The club aspires to foster participation in sports among men and women of all ages and encourage community building and healthy living. The football club aims to boost the moral and community spirit in the community of Gbanjor.

After a nice dinner buffet and enjoyable live music by students from East and Southeast Asia, our second year students were called up to the stage to celebrate their achievements throughout the last two years of studying. Prof. Dr. Heike Grimm, director of the Brandt School, welcomed our new managing director, Lena Kiesewetter, congratulated Junior Prof. Dr. Solveig Richter for a successful interim evaluation, and said farewell and thank-you to Dr. Anja Mihr, who had worked at the school as substitute professor for Public Policy. The student representatives James Harold Birak, Casey McKenzie, and Grigoriy Grigoriyev held moving commencement speeches, before the graduating students presented their favorite moments and experiences in a video. The formal part of the evening closed with a farewell for the Class of 2017 and concluded with music, celebrating and lots of picture taking.

We would like to express our strongest congratulations and thanks to our graduating students that have made the last two years in Brandt School so remarkable and to all Commitment Award applicants for their commitment and great ideas. Special thanks goes to the ThEx team for hosting the event and to the Town & Country Foundation for providing generous financial support.

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