In 2014 Franzisca Gartenmann (21) from Erlenbach in Switzerland founded the non-profit association "Lotus for Laos" to support Laotian orphans.
Influenced by her mother, she developed a social vein at an early age and the need to share her happiness with others.
On a trip to Laos she visited the orphanage in Luang Prabang and was shocked by the conditions under which the children lived there. In the following year she returned to the orphanage to restore and clean the dormitories for one week and to gather countless personal fates and stories. Back in her homeland, she realized that she wanted to share the privileges of her own life and founded "Lotus for Laos".
From the very beginning, she was responsible for fundraising and public relations for the association, which includes the writing of proposals, the creation of the website, newsletters and travelogues. Already in the founding year it received a donation of 10,000 Swiss francs and was thus able to enable 15 young Laotians to visit a local university. "Lotus for Laos" is exclusively active in the field of education. The association does not provide any material help, it supports and facilitates education and thus ensures that no long-term dependence on this project is created. The budget of the association is planned in such a way that the students can be supported until the end of their studies, should no additional donations be received at any time. Currently, 72 students are supported by the organisation. A total of 9 students have successfully completed their studies so far, securing a permanent job.
Franzisca continues to travel to Laos every year at her own expense to ensure the proper use of donations and the success of the project.
Waleed Abu Nada , 20, studies at the IE Universität in Segovia, Spanien. At the same time he leads the Champ Camp, a project he founded for children in the largest refugee camp for Palestinians in Jordan.
At Champ Camp, boys and girls learn Olympic weightlifting. This is meant to strengthen their social interaction, but also their readiness for school education.
Waleed was already active in sports as a child. Initially a professional soccer player, he later switched to weightlifting. He founded the first weightlifting club at his university. He now coaches more than 50 athletes there. The enthusiasm of his students then led him to work with less privileged young people in his home country. The National Olympic Committee helped him to expand an already existing weightlifting school and to implement his ideas of dealing with refugee children.
Through donations he acquired, the facility was thoroughly modernized in less than 10 months, new equipment was purchased and the youngsters received new clothes. He brought the young girls together with successful women from Jordanian society to boost their self-confidence. At the same time, Waleed succeeded in giving the camp recognition as a national sports institution through active work in public relations.
The camp is now a platform that enables children to get ahead. In weightlifting, three girls won medals at a West Asian Olympic tournament in 2017, and 13 medals went to his students at the first Jordanian Youth Competition in the discipline. One boy was nominated for the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
Waleed's personal commitment is impressive. In addition to his studies in law and business administration, he finds time to be there for his young people in Jordan. However, through his education and training, he wants to turn them not only into great athletes but much more into great people who make their way in life under the most difficult circumstances.
Felicia Bösenkopf (20) from Vienna founded the organisation "Voices against Cancer" at the age of 19. She was so enthusiastic about a documentary about the St. Anna Children's Hospital and the St. Anna Children's Cancer Research that she absolutely wanted to help. Felicia loves children and the cancer patients are especially close to her heart.
To help, she organized a first benefit concert with talented young people.
30 young people, together with stars like Maya Hakvoort and youtube star JANAklar conquered the stage. This brought in 8,000 euros, which went without deduction to the St. Anna Children's Cancer Research.
This summer Felicia again organized "Voices Against Cancer" and won besides support from 30 young people also Youtuber from all over Austria and Germany. The young woman stands with full passion behind the project, which means a lot of work for her, above all because she usually plans all actions alone.
"Voices against Cancer" were reported in TV reports and newspapers. This led to numerous small guest appearances, during which money was also donated to the organisation. This year already 3.000 Euro have been received before the concert. In addition, some flea markets were organized, where the children sang. At the moment the idea is to organize a Christmas concert to support cancer research even better.
The special thing about "Voices Against Cancer" is that children help children by using their talent for a good cause. Likewise, everyone else who works on the project, whether they are stage technicians or star guests, does not earn a cent.
For Felicia, the success of the project is the biggest gain. It is more important to her to give something to her fellow human beings than to make profit with it herself.
Elena Spall (26) from Lübeck is founder and chairwoman of the association Future EDM and has been involved for nine years in improving the future prospects of children and young people in Senegal.
Curiosity about African culture brought Elena to Senegal at the age of 17 to the Bilbassi Children's Hospital in M'bour. There she became friends with young people, who made their pocket money available to support their families and also gave something to needy street children. This showed Elena that it is possible to initiate change even with small means. Grateful for the good starting chances she had in life, Elena wanted to give something back and decided to support children in Senegal in shaping their future prospects.
After her return Elena got involved for four years in the board of the association Bilbassi e.V.. There she coordinated an acute medical aid project and collected 15,650 euros for a charity run to expand the children's hospital. In 2014, she finally founded the association Future EDM, which supports the education of children in Senegal and health education.
Elena sees her commitment as a great fulfillment of meaning and a central part of her life. In some cases she spends up to 20 hours a week planning and coordinating projects in addition to her medical studies.
So far, Elena has been able to support around 400 children in Senegal, with far more people benefiting indirectly from her work. She organised the education of 100 young Senegalese to become 'health ambassadors'. They share their knowledge on sexual education, hygiene and equal rights for men and women in rural areas. So far, more than 10,000 people have been reached.
Together with a large network in Senegal and her association Future EDM, Elena is planning another fundraising campaign in September 2018. Her goal is to train another 300 health ambassadors for the rest of Senegal.
On 03.08.2014 the life of Sofian Badel Alias (30) from Troisdorf changed. He quit all his working contracts to document the genocide of the Yazidi.
Sofian became a war reporter overnight, moved with his camera into the war area and risked his life. He wanted to show the world what is happening to Christians and Yazidi in northern Iraq: enslavement, women sold for sex, child soldiers, mass graves, child marriages and forced Islamization. It was important for the young man to obtain reports from eyewitnesses. Sofian saved his work on the Internet. However, after having doubts whether he would return to Germany alive, he gave the password to a good friend.
In northern Iraq, he used the time to teach children photography for three months and distract them from the genocide.
Back in Germany Sofian organized three exhibitions in Hannover, Berlin and Troisdorf. He also set up a previously unpublished archive so that one day he could sue before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Sofian's commitment can be traced back to 2007. At that time he published poems that drew attention to social themes and held discussions with young, Yazidi to motivate them to get involved in their new homeland.
Sofian shows the public what people in parts of northern Iraq had to live through. With his work he places the fate of other people in the foreground.
The Refugee Law Clinic, represented by Tonio Friedmann (25) from Mainz, offers free legal advice on asylum and immigration law.
It performs socially relevant work by offering its clients high-quality legal advice free of charge. By providing qualified contacts, it opens up new perspectives for them.
The participation of the Law Clinic consultants in mandatory training events ensures the integration of legal reforms in their work. They have a pool of student interpreters at their disposal, whose services they use if their clients do not have sufficient knowledge of German or English. They can currently offer their services in 9 languages.
The trigger for the foundation was the "refugee crisis" in 2015 and the associated and necessary legal advice for asylum seekers. They often do not have the financial or linguistic resources, but still have important legal questions related to their stay. Another motivation of the association is to help fugitives and asylum seekers into our society.
When the Refugee Law Clinic was founded in Mainz in 2016, the association counted 30 motivated students, currently, there are about 80 members. Through regular events and initiatives, which draw people's attention to the organization, they also work on their presence beyond the circle of their association members and supporters.
Since the beginning of the consultation in April 2017, the Refugee Law Clinic has accepted almost 100 mandates to date.
Even though the "refugee crisis" is now assessed very differently by the public, the need for free legal advice remains. Therefore, the Refugee Law Clinic would like to continue to provide legal advice.
WhyEurope e.V. from Freiburg, represented by Tabea Wich (21), has set itself the goal of communicating the advantages of the European Union for individuals. A concept has been developed which they call "Positiven Populismus". Simple and innovative, the association tries to communicate the advantages of a European cooperation to the citizens. Its communication channel is social media, especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In the meantime, the association has grown to 32 active members coming from 10 European countries.
The Brexit referendum was the trigger for the founding of the association, which made it clear that solidarity within Europe is not a self-runner. But even before that, the students who founded WhyEurope in July 2016 had noticed the growing Euroscepticism and right-wing populism. They believe that the Community of Europe is an incredibly precious asset which needs to be preserved. WhyEurope is convinced that we have a much less secure and prosperous future without Europe. Every month WhyEurope can now reach 2.5 million people through social media. All members volunteer dozens of hours a week. Last year WhyEurope received the European Public Communication Award from the EU and this year the Arno Esch Prize.
What is special about WhyEurope is that it is not aimed at the educated citizen, but at people who have benefited little from the European Community, are unaware of its advantages or even have prejudices. It helps that WhyEurope is primarily a social rather than a political initiative. It is guided by human ideals, non-partisan and voluntary.
In the almost two years since its creation, WhyEurope has succeeded in making a significant contribution to European integration and international understanding through continuous commitment. Next, the association will focus on the elections to the European Parliament at the end of May 2019.
The project [U25] Dortmund, represented by Laura Maria Lintzen (30), deals with online suicide prevention.
Through the so-called help mail system, people up to the age of 25 in an acute crisis receive free, anonymous and unlimited support via email. In addition, so-called peer counselors, who are 16-25 years old and the same age as those affected, are involved in the project on a voluntary basis. Employees of [U25] also visit communities, social institutions and schools in order to explain the topics of "suicidal tendencies" and "crises in adolescence" in lectures and to reduce existing fears of contact. The subject of suicide is still a taboo subject that is hardly discussed. Suicide is also the second most frequent cause of death among children and teenagers. [U25] would like to counter these alarmingly high figures with its commitment to correcting them downwards.
Since November 2015 [U25] Dortmund has been able to support 300 people seeking help. The main focus of the project is prevention. Specially trained, honorary peer counselors often work on this for months. Weekly supervision sessions as well as the opportunity to further educate oneself on specific topics also ensure qualitative standards in mail counseling.
The 34 trained volunteer peer counselors are additional multipliers who counteract the tabooing of the topic. This happens both through their commitment and in the private sphere.
For their work the Peer consultant of [U25] Dortmund already received the German Citizen Award 2017 as well as the Heinrich Schmitz Award. In addition, the project was supported with the startsocial scholarship in 2017.
Nevertheless, the continuation of the rich work of [U25] at the Dortmund location remains constantly dependent on donations and support programs. The prize Filippas Engel should contribute to further financing, but should also stimulate the willingness of others to donate.
The organisation team VKF-Workshop Hungary, represented by Galina Manyutina (27), Jan Engelhardt (27) and Nikoline v. Nieding (26), conducted a workshop at the Hungarian palace Amadé-Baj-záth-Pappenheim in Iszkaszentgyörgy in May 2018.
Since the fall of communism, the "Verein zur Kunst- und Kulturförderung in den Neuen Ländern", or VKF in short, founded by young people, has organised workshops on threatened monuments. At the workshops, up to 60 enthusiastic volunteers come together over a long weekend to help
with their own hands to preserve the monument. There are always three main goals: the best possible preservation of the monument, the support and encouragement of the people who take care of the monument and make it available for a public purpose, and the cultural exchange with the government.
What is special about the VKF's work is that people of different origins and ages come together to actively contribute to the preservation of a cultural monument in a place that they do not live in themselves and usually have only just got to know.
For the first time and with great success, this workshop was organised and carried out in Hungary by the young people of the VKF. In addition to the property search, this included discussions with the owner and the monument office. It had to be determined which work would be done, which materials would be used for walls and which colors windows or doors would be given. In the same way, qualified craftsmen and quarters had to be organised for the numerous participants. Sponsors were sought to cover the costs as well as a professional cameraman for a video documentation, which was premiered in Berlin on 20.06.2018 as part of the European Cultural Heritage Summit.
The focus of the VKF's work in the coming years will be on Europe and youth. The VKF would like to organise an annual workshop in East Germany and one in the eastern neighboring states in order to make a contribution to the European integration. Since the members of the VKF have been getting older since its foundation, the association sees its second important task in continuing to inspire many young people to work on our cultural heritage.
Jana Reiter (13) from Mettmann is committed to climate protection. In 2017, she and her class accepted a prize in the BUND KlasseKlima competition in Berlin and shot a short TV report in the "kids4klimate" series with "Deutsche Welle". But her greatest commitment is to Plant-for-the-Planet. By founding a club at her school in Mettmann, she wants to support the children's and youth organization both locally and globally.
In 2016, she became aware of an academy of this organization near her when she bought a fair trade chocolate from Plant-for-the-Planet and trained there as an ambassador for climate justice. She never let go of the subject. It is important to Jana that children stand up for their future, fight against the climate crisis and do not leave their future to the adults alone. Jana wants to contribute something herself, e.g. plant trees and motivate other children to commit themselves to the climate.
In order to make fair trade chocolate better known and thus protect the environment, she was an ambassador for Plant-for-the-Planet in schools and represented the organisation at major food fairs in Cologne and Düsseldorf. In addition to these activities, she is a board member of the club she set up in Mettmann and organizes and leads monthly club meetings, chocolate tastings, lectures, clothes swap parties and much more.
With a tree planting campaign of her club, Jana wants to organize another academy in Mettmann and train 60-80 children and young people as ambassadors for climate justice.
Jana is committed to climate protection and wants to be a role model for other children. Already at the age of 13, she is aware that children can make a difference and take responsibility.
After Majana Kabisch (13) from Bottrop was diagnosed with aggressive skin cancer at the age of 8, she wanted to get involved with people who were even worse off than her.
She decided to go to a nursing home to play with the people and to give them a little joy with things she had sewn herself. In the meantime, Majana has built up a network of fabric donors and can therefore regularly sew presents for all 70 residents of the AWO home in Bottrop-Fuhlenbrock at Easter and Christmas. She also sells her work at the Christmas market in order to make last wishes of the old residents come true, such as tours or short trips. Majana visits the nursing home at least once a week and sews new gifts at home every free minute. The small gifts are very important for the people. They keep them in honor and look after them.
Majana has recognised in the own fight with life that there are people who are worse off than she is and that helping others not only makes them happy but also yourself. In contrast to her own age group, she has been involved with people who do not have much time left to live and who sometimes find themselves in a desolate situation.
She wants to make the remaining time of the nursing home resident as colourful and worth living as possible. She would like to hire a dementia clown and co-finance a dementia baby. This doll reacts like a baby, and it has been proven that it can activate the last resources of dementia sufferers. With the prize money, she could fulfil this wish.