International NVC Workshop
“First call for children — the Power of Dreams”
Ruhpolding, 10th – 21st October 2016


The workshop was filmed by Dani Wolf and Tobias Grill. You can watch the film on youtube. They managed the filming sensitively and with a lot of respect for privacy.


My 5th workshop “First call for children — the power of dreams” in October 2016 in Ruhpolding is over. Although I am exhausted, at the same time I am very satisfied because the work with these people just makes so much sense to me.
This time we worked on the topic mediation, trauma, reconciliation and forgiveness as well as — very pragmatically — on building a small business.
Some of the participants came for the 5th time to Germany, only four were newcomers. For most of them it felt like coming home, already saying hello at the airport, as a big family.
Over the last few years, I had invited around 200 people from whom I chose 30 participants for this particular workshop. I had noticed in them how engaged they were in their specific countries with a strong desire to make a change and take on responsibility in their communities. One way or another they all work with children, often with street children (HIV school, orphanage, dance club for children out of a slum, directly with children who sleep on a piece of card board in the streets, orphan’s day school, youth jail …)
Unfortunately, the participants from Ethiopia were not able to come although they had a visa. This was because the government of Ethiopia had proclaimed a state of emergency the day before the workshop started. I felt very disappointed about this.
The situation in the Philippines deteriorated as well. The number of youth in jails increases continuously. In addition, the »real« street children come on their own to the places of shelter, because life in the streets has become very dangerous and life threatening. Participants of my workshop talk about arbitrary shooting happening often. Later you can read in the press about ´suspicious` people who got killed trying to escape … these are circumstances, which for me are hard even to listen to.
In some of these countries I have experienced politics closely. A non-democratic system spreads fear and leads to unpredictable reactions in many human beings. Sometimes I feel sad that there is only so little I can do. Sometimes I fear my work does hardly count as these governments act so differently. On the other hand I can see the chance some children have through our approach – even if it is just a small one.
This all makes me realize how happy I am to live in Europe, where democracy is still an important value, where everybody can go to school and water, food and medical care are available to anybody.
The main topic of the workshop was mediation. Monika Oboth (D) led this, using a lot of bodywork to get the exercises and learnings across. Dominique Pannke (D), Karin Renner (D), Sebastian Kremser (D), Birgit Goldenbow (D), Christine Gundelach (D) and Elkie Deadman (NL) supported the participants during their exercises in small groups and generally added value with their ideas for role-plays, cooperative games, relaxing exercises, and ideas for the non-talent show.
Again I learned that one of the most important preconditions for any change is the fulfilment of basic needs. When people are hungry, they mostly think about one thing: How can I get food? At that stage, many are not interested in NVC. That is why I thought a lot about the possibility to combine both: NVC and the starting of a small business.
Therefore we worked on the topic in two afternoon sessions called “How to develop a business or project”. An invited economist clearly structured the procedure from first ideas to shaping a project: What is the topic? Who is involved? Who supports the idea? Who are possible opponents? How does the long-term financial situation look like? Is the project really an idea from the people involved – and much more.
Some of the projects from the participants included: an internet cafe for street children, a sewing shop in an orphans home, a chicken farm for widows and their children, a dance club for children from the slums, an NVC conference in their own country…
The implementation of these projects now lies in the hands of the participants who know best about their circumstances at home. We stay in contact to support whenever asked for. The participants learned how to solve a conflict through mediation and how to develop their own projects and businesses. Now they need to take it from here.
To support the participants in their work with children, I invited an improvisation theatre group at the end of the workshop. They showed different ways to engage children in actions and role-play, as many children love role-play and can express themselves more easily that way, especially if they cannot find the words for explanations in a conflict. The actors worked on conflict situations using roleplays which offered alternatives to usual »conflict solutions«. They developed the scenes in slow motion together with the audience and they included further systemic methods.
A therapist of trauma release exercises (based on David Berceli) did some exercises with the participants. They can take this experience home and work with their often traumatized children in a gentle way.
In summary: The feedback of many of the participants was grateful and appreciating. I am deeply happy and am looking forward to further cooperation, whatever they might be.

A giraffe hello to all of you.