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What we do
At the end of October 2008 we, Andreas Drews and Martin Schumacher, will start to a six month bike trip to Africa to shoot a documentary about the self-image of aid to developing countries. In this process the different expectations of the donating and the receiving of aid shall be compared. In the following we will illustrate the motivation, content, aims and a few aspects of the realization of our movie project.

Motivation
The idea of exploring Africa by bike – the continent which the fewest Europeans travel to and which is opened for tourism only in few areas yet – has fascinated us as well as experiencing the changes of culture and landscape on a trip along the degrees of longitude. The landscape there is so varied and wide that you have to take your time to explore it.
This thought has been refined by a couple of influences:
  • During studies of geography the arid areas of the earth, especially Africa, have been subjects of courses as well as the topic aid to developing countries

  • During studies of micro system engineering and while working for the “Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy” certain aspects of regenerative powers and possibilities of their application in areas with lower infrastructural development have been discussed

  • Possibilities for engaging in aid to developing countries as a Geographer or Engineer have been repeatedly mentioned
hese influences initiated the idea of developing an own project on the topic of aid to developing countries. In this context a documentary in which African inhabitants are given a voice seemed to be the best method for attaining an effect; more suitable than collaborating in some project for some weeks with the feeling of not being really needed or even just being European signboard.

The project
By deliberate renouncement of the usual comfort and expensive possibilities of traveling we hope to achieve a closer and more personal contact with the local inhabitants and a more intensive and open communication. We take our time of a couple of months now to get to know the landscapes and people of Eastern Africa and to observe how the involvement of smaller NGOs (Non Government Organizations) and other projects have an effect on today’s Africa. We want to learn about the destinations of aid, the motives of the giving and the requirements and interests of the receiving and illuminate these aspects by the following questions:
  • How and where is aid to developing countries suitable?

  • What do donors of aid expect and what does that aid actually achieve in the country of destination

  • Which expectations and requirements do the receivers have?

  • Which models of aid are there and how do they develop?

  • Where did aid succeed; where did it fail? How did this happen?
In Germany which is an exemplary donor country we will interview collaborators of NGOs and governmental institutions for aid; in Africa we will interview persons who directly benefit from aid or are involved in its organization or financial management. The NGO “Ingenieure ohne Grenzen” (engineers beyond borders) from Freiburg Germany will be in the center of attention of the documentary since the members of this young organization founded in February 2008 are currently facing abovementioned questions. For successful aid to developing countries it is crucial to choose suitable means and ways of communication as well as to find a common level of communication to avoid misunderstandings and make the restricted means of aid as efficient as possible.

We don’t pretend to be able to come up with fundamentally new discoveries, a general solution for problems of development aid or even a magic formula to understand the African mentality. Based on our special circumstances of traveling and our impartiality our aim is rather to develop a new and interesting view upon the topic of aid to development countries.

Aims
The aims of the project are two different aspects:

Firstly we will make a documentary out of the existing film material after our return to Germany. This documentary will be shown to an audience that has no insider information about the problems of aid to developing countries but a certain interest in this topic. The people receiving the aid shall be given a voice to encourage a conscious and purposeful approach to this topic.

Secondly the documentary will be a representation of the NGO “Ingenieure ohne Grenzen” (engineers beyond borders) to give an insight into this organization and their work to interested people. The documentary will be shown in smaller regional circles solely but also embedded in presentations and travelogues. If the documentary gains enough attention we want to make it accessible to a wider audience. We also take into consideration TV broadcast.On the other hand the gathered information and experience by making the documentary will be at the NGO’s disposal to make future projects more efficient in terms of planning and communication with responsible conductors in the developing areas etc. As a result the gathered experience shall be a basis for eventually following projects and further cooperation with the NGO “Ingenieure ohne Grenzen”.