SHORTEN THE DISTANCE!
This is the name of the aid organization that aims to help children and young people in Kasungu (Malawi) to acquire a better life.
The organization was founded in 2015 by Jacob Gondwe-Köttner, who lives in Berlin, but was born in Malawi and spent his first years of life there and therefore knows the problems up close.
That is why “Shorten The Distance” is not an organization that patronizes people in need, but works with them to develop the next projects - tailored to their personal needs.
We need to shorten the distance: to the water supply, to a healthy lifestyle and to vocational training in schools in favor of a good infrastructure for the population.
Through direct cooperation and collaboration with the residents of Kasungu, Shorten The Distance imparts the necessary knowledge and integrates national and international experts such as the Senior Expert Service for support.
That is how we would like to promote the self-confidence and initiative of the residents.
The projects origin:
When Jacob visited his hometown of Kasungu (Malawi) in 2013, he met many talented young people on the street who were playing music, freestyling, rapping and dancing.
The idea to start a small music project with them grew out of the desire to support those young people in Kasungu. The result was the song “Never let you go”, for which a music video was shot in an abandoned chicken coop.
After this cooperation they still kept in touch and 2 years later in 2015, the association “Shorten The Distance” was founded as a CBO (Community-based organization). Since summer 2019, Shorten The Distance is a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Malawi.
The projects objectives:
The first phase of the project was to build two water wells in Chiuno Village, Kasungu, which was achieved with the support of cooperation partners in Berlin. One water well was built in the village and the second one on an adjacent plot of land that Shorten the Distance has acquired as a building site.
As a second phase of the project, a youth center will be built on this property. It will offer a space to work and spend time in order to create music and art, to find a career and life path for oneself and to support one another with everyday problems.
At the same time, the project aims to promote the debate on political issues such as education, health, HIV, equality, labor rights, corruption and migration. The aim is to open up ways for them to get involved. There will be cultural events, classes for students, seminars and workshops.
In the long term, as a cultural and training facility, the youth center will open up prospects for young people in order to curb and eliminate the ongoing child labor on the tobacco plantations in Kasungu.
Important topics are:
• How can the young generation in Malawi develop further?
• How can young people get access to better education?
• What career prospects are there at home and abroad?
• How can young people worldwide connect and support one another?
Our project aims to help children and young people to free themselves from often precarious situations and to lay the foundation for a better and more secure life.
In the long term, it’s our ambition to establish a cross-border exchange so that young people can encourage each other in their creative work and develop creative and political perspectives together. Modern communication media open up many possibilities for this.
How we want to achieve our goals:
The project “Shorten The Distance” is intended to help people help themselves. In order to become self-sufficient and independent, they need to be able to have trust in themselves and that they can do it.
By building their own solar cookers or water wells, through upcycling, permaculture and similar techniques, those involved can reduce their cost of living and earn additional income. Participation in building and setting up the youth center also offers many opportunities to develop both creatively and skill-wise.
Since it is particularly common for girls to drop out of school prematurely, they are encouraged to achieve the highest possible qualifications and to give them moral support when facing challenges.
We believe that everyone is able to take their life into their own hands if they have the right tools, techniques and social resources. We want to bring those “tools” to Kasungu.