Internship at the Village Pioneer Project

1. Objective
The VPP is a base-oriented developmental aid project in rural regions. The activities of the VPP are aimed among other things on low-income classes in these regions. We try to educate unemployed youth (the so-called pioneers) as well as to give farmers in the surrounding villages the possibility to profit from the innovations of the project within seminars. The attendants of the project shall be enabled to care for themselves, to provide a well-balanced nourishment for themselves and others and to develop adequate political and cultural awareness.
As it is generally assumed that an enhancement of the life-conditions of the people in developing countries is only possible if a change of awareness of the people in the "rich" countries, the industrial nations, takes place, a fundamental goal of every stay in this project must be to create a base for cooperative team work without hierarchic structures between "poor" and "rich". Da generell davon ausgegangen wird, dass eine Verbesserung der Lebensbedingungen der Bevölkerung in The european trainee resp. visitor shall develop a fundamenatl comprehension of the political, economical, social and cultural problems of developing countries (especially here in Nigeria). The project offers to the counterparts the possibility to get educated in the ressorts of tropical, ecological orientated farming (acrofarming - model according to Egger) as well as in traditional artisanry techniques. Of course European trainees have the opportunity to participate to these programmes and to expand their skills in these realms. In the context of the stay in the VPP if required the visitors will be given time at hand to travel the country, provided the visitors have sufficient means for that.
2. Requirements
European trainees that want to work in the VPP should already have shown commitments to development politics. This doesn't have to comprise an internsheep overseas - cooperation in third-world-supporting groups, with churchly or other workshops as well as with development politics-institutions will suffice in general to begin dealing with third-world problems. To prepare quickest possible to the socio-cultural environment it is indispensable to consider enough lead time to learn about history, social structures and cultural conditions of Western Africa, especially Nigeria and to polish - if necessary - your English skills up. (Literature and information can be found in the internet.)
Your stay in the project should comprise at least two months to have enough time for effective working in the project still after adapting to the climatic and socio-cultural circumstances.
It goes without saying that the European trainee should show a flexible mental attitude as European standards don't apply to African life in general.
Da die finanziellen Mittel des Projekts begrenzt sind, müssen Praktikanten die Kosten für Hin- und As the financial means of the project are limited the European trainees have to bear costs for outbound and return flight by themselves. Also the stay in the project (1st month 300,- EUR, every other month 200 EUR) and own needs (travelling in Nigeria, souvenirs, daily trivia etc.) has to be financed by the trainee.
An adequate first-aid kit should be prepared, Malaria prophylaxis is essentially required. The following vaccinations are necessary resp. shoud be boostered: yellow fever, tetanus, polio. Vaccination regarding icterus, meningitis, rabies and cholera give individual protection but are not mandatory, i. e. after consultation of your doctor or an institute for tropical diseases you can decide yourself.
To apply for the visa at the embassy of Nigeria in Berlin please check via the internet. Before applying for the visa it is essential to consult the VPP e. V. or Frau Elvira Akomolafe in Waiblingen, Germany.
3. Field of activity of the trainee in the project
During the stay in the VPP there are many possibilities for the trainee to create his internship meaningful for himself and the project. It shall be a cooperative learning process, i. e. through the interaction of trainee and project-members both sides profit from the exchange of knowledge during internship-period. The offers of the VPP comprise among other things the following realms:
A: Tropical farming
The trainee gets to know various forms of cultivation and techniques. Moreover the trainee will learn how an ecological stable farmengagement in Nigeria is possible by usage of adequate land use systems. Furthermore the trainee learns about breeding and keeping of pigs and rabbits and gets a taste of the functionality of the bio-gas digester.
B: Traditional artisanry
In the context of workshops the VPP offers the trainee the opportunity to learn different skills like for example forging, carpentry, spinning, weaving, soap-procuction etc.and to pass own skills to the project-members. The trainee can help in the home economics, too.
C: Waterfactory
Here the trainee can help with extracting the VPP-water to the point of selling it at the local markets.
D: Schools
As the VPP supports various schools the trainee can gain experiences here, too. For example, he/she can give lessons in primary schools after consultation.
4. Role of mediator after return to Europe
We would like the trainee to write a brief final report shortly before finishing his/her internship. The report should comprise an explicitly expression of her/his experiences and his/her position regarding the project. This report will be discussed within the context of a concluding meeting with the project management. As already mentioned in the beginning the life-conditions in the developing countries as well as in the industrial nations can only change for the better if both sides are ready to learn from their own faults and work together on solutions. Therefore we expect the trainee to still keep in touch with the development of the project after his/her return to Europe and that the trainee passes his/her experiences to friends and family.

If you are interested in an internship at the VPP in Nigeria please fill in the questionnaire (German) you can download here and send it to Frau Akomolafe

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Hier you find the final report of Katrin Mangold. She stayed in the VPP in 2009 (also available as pdf for download):

Report about my practical course in Ajue (14.02.2009 - 13.04.2009)
It is not easy for me to write this training period report. This is due to the fact, on the one hand, that I am still in a "state of suspension" between Nigeria and Germany and on the other hand at the fact that I exactly cannot say with some things, why they have developed so or have not developed and, hence, I can put up only supposition. Maybe the time of my training period was simply rather unfavorable. On the one hand, because Buki, Pablo and me came together it meant apparently for the people in the project that we knew ourselves (We come, finally, everybody from Germany.) and also had planned the trip together and therefor should be treated equaly. This entailed that we were automatically equated, until we had finally put through the differentiation in trainee and vacationer. Nevertheless, thus it lasted for a while, until I was completely integrated into the everyday work routines. On the other side, due to the fact that Buki and Pablo were also there, I had the possibility to make two very nice excursions to Oshogbo and Idanre Hill and to receive thus impressions from Nigeria and the Yoruba culture. On the other hand I had the impression that some decisions could be made by the absence of the boss simply slow and thus perhaps also the possibilities were limited. I think in this connection concretely of the question whether I may go with for the water sales on the market or not. Because Komo was not to be reached or the net did not function, no permission could be caught up and it was judged therefor as better that I do not go.
If I compare my training period with my expectations, based on the information I had before (out of the homepage and a telephone call with Komo), I would say that the aims were reached only partially:
I got an idea of the agricultural activities of the project and could learn how to harvest and subsequent treat Cassava, the care of the animals and the leftovers utilisation. Cultivating new beds also belonged to my activity area. It was interesting for me, on this occasion, that I could compare these experiences with those of a practical course in a similar project in Ecuador, with the fact turned out that quite similar agricultural techniques are practiced. Furthermore I helped in the production and packaging of "Juice" and pure water. I would have also helped on the market to sell the water with great pleasure, but this wish could not be realised for several reasons. First it was too dangerous on account of the political situation, then there was not enough place in the car or Komo was not accessible and could not be asked for permission. Later the truck was broken and it was not driven at all to the market or the rack machine did not work properly, so that no drinking packages could be produced.
Differently than expected, during my presence there was hardly use of other craft technologies, as weaving or soap-making. For this I had the only connecting factor when Mummy showed me how to spin a thread out of cotton. I would have learnt gladly more in this direction, because it simply constitutes a part of the culture and a "more complete" picture would have mediated to me.
One of my main focuses in my study in Leipzig is Ethnomedizin or traditional medicine, in the broader sense also the cultivation and the processing of herbs. Before the beginning of my training period I talked to Komo about this. He told me, that there will be the possibility to learn more about it and also to investigate. This was one point for me, to accept the training period place. Unfortunately, this was not during my stay in Nigeria the case. In my eyes this fact shows the biggest deficiency. Maybe one reason for it was the political situation with all the consequences which required Komos absence. Thus nobody was present, who had the time or the knowledge to train me or to support me otherwise in this area.
Nevertheless, in addition to the already called activities I learned and experienced, partially at another level, even more. Therefor I see the training period, in spite of the described problems and disappointments, as successful finished. The informal atmosphere and the open-mindedness towards strangers made it easy for me to "arrive" in Nigeria and to feel quickly home in Ajue. It was good to experience how warmly one can be taken up by foreign people and how openly they face to one. Particularly Yemi, Kafaya, Gbenga, Sunday and the trainee Abdul Akeem were really interested in my views and the life in Germany, so that, actually continuously, an exchange and comparison of cultures took place. Even if I was addressed in this frame every now and then as curious if I asked too much to understand the one or other situation.; -) By the integration in the project or also by Komos political engagement I had the possibilities to participate in many events which would have remained kept to me as a "normal traveller" and which are therefor especially valuable for me: Besides the visits of naming ceremonies, memorial services, sports parties, Mimikos inauguration in the stadium of Akure and Komos inauguration as "Special Adviser" firstly stands the life itself in a foreign culture, in a firm community with which one argues and in which there can also be conflicts which must be solved to protect a good living together. To emphasize in the uses, gestures, ways of thinking and behaviour and a foreign language, trying to understand them, also to fail every now and then, to adapt myself or sometimes to offend sensibilities with my own behaviour or to provide surprise or laughter with it just belong to the good and important experiences, like the worry and affectionate care which I have found out during my malaria.
Thank you for all !
Katrin Mangold