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Expert interview: Create a future with miles

construction workers in togo

Miles & More is continuing its sustainable, social commitment and has teamed up with help alliance, the charitable aid organisation of employees of the Lufthansa Group, to help people in the poorest countries of the world. That’s how the idea came about to fund a training centre in Togo completely with mileage donations from Miles & More members. The aim of this project is to build an international educational and training centre by the end of 2023 and equip it with modern learning resources. So, giving disadvantaged young people access to a high-quality vocational education.

We spoke to our Miles & More colleague and expert on the project in Togo, Anja Kern, and discussed why the training centre has become a true project of the heart for her.

 

portrait anja kern

Miles & More editors: Anja Kern, please can you explain to us briefly what this project is about.

 

Anja Kern: Togo is one of the poorest countries in the world and, even though the economy suffers from a skills shortage, young people can still barely find a training opportunity or a job there.  A third of all young people are unemployed. The country’s educational system lacks infrastructure, equipment and qualified teachers. Even if they complete their schooling, the labour market situation is precarious. There are too few training places that qualify people for the jobs needed on the ground. That means young people are barely able to earn money and escape poverty. But because young people make up the majority of the population, they especially need specific support and assistance so they can have the prospect of a life and job in their own country in the future. 

portrait anja kern

Miles & More editors: We understand that very well. And how do you aim to help change this situation?

 

Anja Kern: The aim, together with our partner help alliance and our Miles & More members, is to create an international educational and training centre equipped with modern learning and teaching resources. It is intended that 100 disadvantaged school leavers will be trained there every year in a wide range of different vocations starting from the end of 2023. This can become a reality thanks to the help alliance project director Jean Adadevi. Jean has been committed to working with help alliance for some time and he also grew up in Togo himself. He has therefore experienced himself how important a good school education is. That’s why he is regularly there on the ground to survey the progress of the project and also because he has such faith in the project. It is wonderful to see how committed every single person is and that it is progressing so well. A great example of how well it is going is Ayité Gaba. He is 25 years old and has recently completed a training course in bookkeeping thanks to the previous help alliance project in Togo. He says himself he doesn’t know what would have become of him without this opportunity. He now has prospects - and he absolutely wants to use the knowledge he has obtained to benefit school leavers in need at the training centre that help alliance is currently building. How great is that then?

 

Miles & More editors: You sound very enthusiastic, Anja. What makes the project so special for you?

 

Anja Kern: It’s simply wonderful to see how the project is growing and growing - not least because of the willingness of our Miles & More members to make donations. The foundations of the main building have now been completed and the first walls are already standing. Every brick for the training centre is sustainably pressed into shape from local clay and has to dry for two weeks before it is fired. Can you imagine that?

 

It is so wonderful to see that you can achieve great things by working together, and that many of our Miles & More members are apparently very socially minded and helpful people. They want to improve the lives of disadvantaged people, and are not just interested in getting something back from their miles in the form of flights and merchandise awards. So social involvement means something to them, and they trust us to use their miles sensibly and honestly. Compared to the previous year, these rose by 169% in 2021 when we gave Miles & More members the opportunity to be involved in some important help alliance projects with their mileage donations - that’s simply fantastic!

 

To sum up I would simply say: I find it very fulfilling to be part of something so important and so valuable. I would not want to give up working together on this project - even it’s only from my desk. That's why I’m asking you to carry on donating miles with such enthusiasm. Thank you.

 

Miles & More editorsWe are with you there. Thank you for talking to us, Anja Kern.