Help for Self-help

In 1995 the North Korean UN ambassador turned to Agape international with the following request: “You are Christians, come and help us!” This request has grown into a multifaceted 20-year partnership that has shaped and changed both sides.

So this year we are looking back on our cooperation with North Korea and want to celebrate it with all who have faithfully supported this partnership. Therefore, in this and the next edition of Our Heart’s Concern, we will look back on some of the highlights of our project.

Following the request of the UN ambassador, the first few years were spent improving the food situation of the population. About 300 tons of rice was sent as an initial emergency aid. Soon it became clear that only a long-term help as in “help for self-help” would fundamentally and sustainably change the situation of the population. Together with experts from the North Korean Ministry of Agriculture, the Agriculture School Rheinhof and the Swiss Association of Mountain Agriculture (SAB) we started an agricultural development and partnership project in 1996.

The emphasis of our partnership until about 2006 were agricultural measures in forage production and grassland, as well as goat’s milk processing. Gras was needed for meat and milk. The good harvests in the following years, various projects of the UN and other relief and development organizations significantly contributed to the improved food situation of the population. With a new project management in 2006 the main focus of our involvement changed to and has remained in the area of alternative energy.

The aim of our involvement, namely, to promote the independence of the population has never changed and would have not been possible without the commitment of people that invested everything to reach this goal.

Editorial

Dear readers,

I am reading about the 20-year history of the North Korea Project, as we want to celebrate the cooperation between Agape international and North Korea this year in April and August with a thanksgiving and remembrance celebration.

While reading about the past of this project I am amazed at how many people have invested themselves into the population of North Korea in the past 20 years; either as domain experts in the country itself or here in Switzerland as supporters and supervisors for interns and in transferring knowledge. We are also very grateful for all of your large and small donations that make this involvement possible in the first place.

This year we invite you to take a deeper look at the various projects, especially the production of the first sign language booklet, the support of the specialized internship in forage production and dairy farming, and the projects of the SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation). Especially since we are not able to live in North Korea ourselves at the moment, the people who can and are able to share some of their life with the population are precious to us.

We are pleased that you will again travel this journey with us this year.

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