Tanzania 2019


NVC workshop in Tanzania
Arusha, 25th September – 4th October 2019


The workshop was filmed by Dani Wolf and Tobias Grill. You can watch the film on youtube. It’s called “NVC Tanzania 2019 — First call for children — empower children empower communities”.


With five of my Ruhpolding participants from Tanzania, I discussed and organized over 1.5 years a three-day NVC training in Arusha, Tanzania, including several half-days offers in different organizations who work especially with children and youth.
In the run-up to the actual training, an introduction about NVC was given to each organization by the local team.
For the three-day workshop, we expected 100 participants. Later, 120 wanted to come, and in the end, we had 140 participants from 8 different countries. They did not get sitting allowance, a fee to compensate any loss of their daily income.
They all got the workshop, Marshall´s basic book, a handout, food, and water. They came from NGO´s, schools, including Montessori education, were nuns, businessmen, judges, reporters…

I value the local team’s preparation and handling of the workshop to a great extent. They put lots of their time, money and energy into it, to get this going in such a fruitful way.

Those organizations, who were first hesitating about an NVC presentation, asked to get a further training after they knew more, and invited us to come again, with more time and start a training in their house. The virus is spread. A TV show about the workshop was on.

I want to thank especially the other trainers, Esther Gerdts (G) and Jaqueline Muller (USA) for their dedication, not knowing much about NVC in Eastern Africa. Our togetherness was smooth, warm, in a flow, and we just handed over to the next one if we wanted to add or support. Our collaboration was fitting, very satisfying, made a lot of sense. Sam Odinga (KE), some Kenyans in the certification process and the local team supported, especially in the smaller group work.

After the three days, sentences like this were part of the feedback: …changed my life… opened a new world to me… please come more often… a new way of facilitation and a new way of living… recruit other younger (!) NVC trainers to join their workforce and carry the flame and the spirit of NVC… I see the move within me… NVC is the proof that for only three days you can change the entire life… taught me to empower children…

I was fascinated by students from an organization (secondary and university level) who failed their exams or were dropped out of school. These students got their second chance in this organization with a place in the library and access to a computer.
Although most of them had an exam the next day after our NVC training, they came back to our workshop after the break and shared their personal stories. I love to work with young people like them, they want to develop, learn and take their second chance, an atmosphere for me with deep connection.


One participant said: “We in Tanzania have no watches, we have time.”
When I hear this sentence, I get extremely triggered. If we would not have a watch, we could start the workshop any time in the morning instead of 8:30. I love reliability and structure and appreciation for what we bring in. This statement does not at all mirror the complex situation in this African country. I prefer everybody living on its own account, with self-responsibility and at the same time I like to give them my full power to know more about NVC and its applicability in this country.


The power of the church to me was incredible. About 60% of the Tanzanians are Christians and go to church almost every Sunday for 2-3 hours. I visited three of them. The priests were preaching about people being evil and sinners, and search for a better world beyond live on earth. Their voice was lifted to a very high volume, almost screaming.
I was helpless: What am I doing here? Fortunately, one member of the local team informed me that some priests change and do not “indoctrinate” in this way anymore.


During our offerings in the different organizations I realized the power of tradition:
In about 7 African countries as well as in Tanzania I realized the importance of clans and tribes. This is their social system, and they accept many “disadvantages” in order to belong.

Some examples for present tradition:

  • In some rural areas, it is still common that women do not look into the eyes of men and even bend down on their knees and clap their hands towards a man, and if a further man enters, they get up and bend down again and clap again. I was voiceless and shocked! My desire is dignity for all humans.
    “Women are beaten often. Men are scorned if they do not beat their wives” — a quote from a Tanzanian man of about 40 years, far away from my longing for equality.
  • Even today when man and woman marry, often the man has to pay cows for the wife. So many start their marriage in debts.
  • Children are beaten regularly. This was another shocking moment for me. Independent of gender or age in all (!) organizations we visited, this was a topic. One younger teacher shared to be in a corporal punishment committee in his school. Now after the workshop, he said: “This is over, I will change this in the committee!”
  • Right now, we heard about several situations in which the pressure of some young humans revealed in burning of a dormitory or a library, which is so much needed.
  • 10% of the young girls are circumcised, although it is prohibited by the government. In rural areas in special cultures, 50% are circumcised. I am suffering, what a pain, and I am looking for any sense behind it.


We celebrate the birthday of one young orphan teacher from Uganda: only one year ago he was hugged the first time in his life. He never got a physical present. So, we gave him a love shower, some little gifts and asked for the allowance to hug him, which he liked in full. He was proud and smiling, realizing the gift of touching and opening up to someone even bodily.


My learnings:

  • I will only offer a workshop without giving the participants a sitting allowance. A lot of NGO´s did this in the past to „collect and attract“ participants. We wanted them to come for the content. Maybe some sneaked in for the food, this is ok for me. In the next workshop, we even start to take a contribution of any kind.
  • I will ask at the beginning of a workshop if they are present voluntarily. One afternoon, we were working in a private school for students with less family income and a „difficult“ background. Most of the students (in toto 600) did not move when I started the 4 corner game as differentiation between needs and strategies. I had the impression, they preferred to play football or practice for their performance the next day. So, having a choice in attending the NVC offering became again important to me.
  • Next workshop I want to work even more with youth, especially those who want a second chance. They want to learn and develop. And I have so much fun and connection with them.
  • For the sustainability of the development of NVC in a country, in my opinion, a local group is essential. Only if they now continue to support praxis groups, the seeds may flourish. I believe in their power. Several groups are planned.
  • In one workshop the nuns sat on one side of the church, the Montessori teacher on the other. Playful mixing of groups for mind chance and equality is important to me from the beginning on in a workshop. Unfortunately, I realized only after the session. Here, I work on more awareness.


Summary: I love my contribution that this event happened in Tanzania. I am happy and satisfied. Besides all the tradition many people are living in, I sensed the humanity in them and their desire to know more about NVC in order to support their country in its development towards more self-responsibility.