30 Mayıs 2015 Cumartesi

HAFA Project | Importance of Partnership and Participants

| "I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences... I'm human, not perfect, like anybody else."
Queen Latifah

HAFA Project was EU Erasmus+ Youth Exchange Project which was put into practice between 3-10th of May'15 in Kastamonu by ERGO-LIFE Group.

[This blog is for my learning process. Most of this write will mention about my experiences from my side. It could be seem like it is completely bad experiences, It is not. Of course there are many many good moment which you can find good moment of HAFA project in facebook page: HAFA PROJECT FACEBOOK PAGE]

I was trainer/facilitator/organizer in this project and it was big experiences for me. Not only organizing, but also partnership.

As a summary, what usually do for a exchange project and what I did?
- Project is approved
- Waiting budged money from NA.
- Organizing partners
- Organizing your team
- Organizing materials
- Organizing logistic (travel, accommodation, food, etc)
- Working on participants' spontaneous problems till coming project place, in project place and till reaching their homes
- Working on paper work and documentation
- Motivate all people (participants, team, hotel reception, local people and if you could, yourself!)

My adventure was start when I was in Spain and NA announced the result of Fabruary'14 projects applications at September'14.

Where I can start to tell this story, I don't know. But lets start from here, September'14.

I was surprised, but excited after learning that my project was approved. But the dates had already been late. We had planned to apply our project at October'14 and there is no time for preparing. Also NA did not send money yet.

Anyway, I had tried to contact with partners which they accepted to be partner before application. Here was first problem. I had tried to contact partners via e-mail, phone, skype etc what they wrote to their application form. Butttt, I had not reached three of 5 partner. Croatia was one of three partners. I will explain this situation later why I refer Croatia.

I contacted with Turkish NA and explained the situation and wanted to confirmation for changing project time and partners. I did what they said.
- Tried to contact again with all partners
- Now three of them was answered which they said they wanted to continue as a partner. Croatia was on of those three partners and finally they succeed to reply e-mail after 3 months.
- Other two partners was cancelled
- The date was changed
- With NA's confirmation, I started to find partners (It was long and stressful process for me. I got a lot of application and I need to find perfect partners... Perfect :) )

Greek Partner had knowledge about situation and conditions. He accepted anyway but he changed his mind. 
Bulgarian potential partner.
After I selected them and inform them

While choosing partner, I tried to choose people who we worked before. I selected two good NGO. But for travel reimbursement which I cant change while changing partner, even they applied and knowing conditions, partners which I selected was cancelled. They were from Greece and they said they could just use flight to reaching Kastamonu. Okay, but it is volunteering, sometimes conditions can be tough.

Finally, after two months, or maybe more, I have selected partners Hungarian and Italian . I though it would be easy, but it was not even close.

My friends who used to live in Kastamonu, he were volunteer for being legal representative. He were Kastamonu and project place had been decided as Kastamonu for this reason. Every thing would be easy to arrange in there because he had had good connection in there. Butttt, he moved to İstanbul. No one stayed in there related with project. For condition of HAFA, we insisted to put in practice in Kastamonu. Kastamonu's young people need this project, local people need this project.

I am skipping those things;
- Arranging accommodation in Kastamonu, food, Ilgaz trip, accommodation in Ilgaz
- facilitators of project
- Staff of project
- participants of project from Turkey, especially from local
- materials,
- project program etc.

All of them was an adventure and in this article, I wanna focus on partners, partnership and participants. Maybe I can mention a little about local peoples behaviors.


It is more important then you think. I saw it. I experienced it and I learned it.

| "The only source of knowledge is experience."
Albert Einstein

After selection of partners, I tried to organized and informed partners time by time.

Here is first problem with partners. I asked partners to have meeting on skype, every partner said different day and different time. There were no choose for me. Compulsorily, I spend one week, every night I had meeting each partner one by one. It was kind of wasting my time. Because I replied the same things during one week even some partner had not had a leader of this project. I explained everything which were from project program, activities, city, how they reach the city etc. I pointed that choosing participants is very very important and I said them that motivate  themselves start from skype meeting day. Also I give some tips for selecting their participants (gender, fewer opportunity etc)

Till two weeks left to APV (Advance Planning Visit), I waited. Then I started to asked leaders' details, arrival and departure time for meeting in Kastamonu. One week left, only two leader gave me certain info. One leader said they were working on it, one leader had not answered any email of me and did not answered my phone call..

The email sent 3 days before APV. 

In APV, 4 leader involved and Romania said that there is no leader for coming APV and the person how I contacted said that his healthy situation was not OKAY and doctor said him not to go anywhere. This info reached me three days left of APV. I had already booked place in Hotel!

APV Meeting
In APV, I did my best for motive them. They knew many things about projects and it was good for our project. I had 'hope' for our project. I had!!!

After APV, I openned trello account and I taught leaders how they could use it. I uploaded many info in there and had sent via e-mail as well. They got everything except responsibility! (not all of them, Italy did their best for sure).

I was controlling e-mail account but after APV, Elif tried to manage it. She really tried! A month before the activities, Elif tried to collect participants application forms, arrival and departure times. Whenever she contacted, partners said " everything is under control, we are selecting participants, as soon as possible, we will send application forms" But in real, it had not been happened what said.

Project activities time were 3-10th May 2015.

A few application forms received to our e-mail before activities !

A few participants' arrival and departure time has received too.

Buttttt how about the rest?!

First, Hungarian partner was cancelled to involve HAFA Project as a partner at 30 April night (3 days left to activities) after trying to call a million times via e-mail, skype, facebook and phone (he did not answer before, Their excuse was 'they were writing project to deadline 30 April'. whenever he wants, he contacted with me) . Its mean that 5 participants would be missing.
Hungarian partner cancelled!

Second,  I contact Croatian partner via Whatsapp. He said " Sorry arkadaş, participants decided to not coming for activities at 1st of May (2 days left project activities). I contacted all participants one by one. They said that " We tried to contact with organization, but we did not succeed. They did not reply our e-mails and we though that project was cancelled."



Dunja is from Croatia and I contacted him. Look what he said! 

Both of them seems to professional in APV meeting.

Then Italian partner was appeared. One participants was cancelled to come and there was a person who has double citizenship (both Italian and Turkish ). So we tried to involve her to HAFA. But it was not easy. Because she would not come from Italy and travel cost could be problem. It is problem...

And last goal which partner scored us that Romanian partner said that two participants was cancelled to involve activities at 2nd of May (just one day left to project activities). It was amazing.

Totally, there would be 12 participants missing.

Think about hotel reservations and other things which we arranged before...

3th of May, we would start to project and last minute goals hit us very deeply. Not only me, Elif, Şule, Yağmur ve Yavuz were the same situation like I was.

We needed motivation but we lost it already.

We moved to Kastamonu anyway. During travel, we were motivated. We believed everything would be great even we didnot know how many participants would involve, when they would arrived etc.

1st day, we spent for preparing the stuffs, convinced hotel for less people, food, activities etc. In morning at 4 a.m, I finished preparing and I was ready for starting.

First 3 days was normal. We tried to carry out project schedule. In this part of my article, I want to tell some about participants.

We had 13 participants from Holland, Romania and Italy. Most of them had not involved any youth exchange project. Some of them had involved but not enough knowledge about what we are doing in there. Partners did not do their work and not explained about project very much. It caused many problem. I will mention about them a little bit later. Be patient :)

As general summary ,
- I changed the dates and partners consented about new dates.
- I shared new activity program with partner, I let them change it whatever they suggest!
- I did skype meeting (even every partner wanted to do this meeting in different days, I spent one week)
- I did APV with leaders ( Even last minute, Romanian leader did not wanted to come -because of healthy problems they said-
- We were agree the schedule. I gave some tips about what kind of participants were needed for this project, gender equality etc.
- Elif and I wrote a lot of (maybe a million) e-mail to partner. Except Italy, they replied very late all time. Some of them has not replied most of our e-mails. Still I am waiting for it :)
- Mansız arranged hotel in Kastamonu. Other staffs arranged materials, activities content. I arranged Ilgaz trip. Murat did what we need in Kastamonu. It was not easy work for all Turkish participants. They did their best (most of them :))
- Ali created a web portal for participants.
- Hotel was good quality for youth exchange projects. It was palace (Osmanlı Sarayı: http://www.kastamonuosmanlisarayi.com/Anasayfa). The food was tree times a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The breakfast was open buffet breakfast. During the lunch and dinner, participants had chance for taste different Turkish foods and water in bottle was free. Also during activities and food times, they felt free for taking tea and coffee. It was free too. Also hotel was selling other drinks (coke, ayran etc with some prize. It was optional to buy)  Hotel was in center and participants reached center and any place 15 minutes maximum by walking. Also there are a lot of market around hotels and they let participants to take and bring their stuff from outside too. ( End of project, some participants was complain about not seeing city, taking coke with high prize etc. That's why I gave all details)
- Yavuz arranged a guest speaker from Hacettepe University/Ankara.


As summary, everything was arranged very well. The program schedule had not contain to stay in Ilgaz. There was only trip in a day and coming back. We changed it for giving participants more time for discovering Ilgaz, nature and eachother. It is mean of course extra budged for us. But we did not care. We had info about there was a paintball area and It will be good if participants spend time together. But there was a prize and we cant handle it. I asked participants and everyone were agreed (somehow) to pay and going paintball. It was not in schedule and we integrated it  (Again, In final evaluation form, there are some complaining about giving money for paintball)

In evaluation forms, participants evaluated me and my work. I like evaluations (any kind which is giving advice and seeing from different point). But in this project, some participants evaluated very interesting things (coke prize, why paintball was paid by participant, Yağmur's English better then mine, no time for explore the city etc). There were no feedback about program, quality of knowledge, using Technics etc. I think they did not know what was going on in there. They just wanted to go holiday and they evaluated the coke prize :)

Here is some part of the forms:
But first, here is the schedule of HAFA
P.S: Whenever I read those comments I will remember that what I did wrong. Thank you for feedback.
It says 'I wish have much time to visit the city and to do personal stuff'. There were a lot of free time
and also first day afternoon there was city game and they went for explorer the city. 

'the opinion of participants have never been taken into consideration'. I asked every thing to participants, leaders any time.
leaders meeting did just taking the advise and comments and ideas. But I have the forms which they wrote and they said everything is OK with participants. 

In Ilgaz, In hotel, after the activities, there are many time for free. But They choosed to go to Turkish Bath (hamam) in free time. Because of hamam, they missed the lunch and they tried to eat Burger King menu while 'guest speaker' speaking and doing some activities. And we replaced presentations with paintball (which was not on activity list and 'participants' wanted to it after I informed about there is an area for paintball)
It says ' we just did only activities in hotel.' So what about orienteering (city game), paintball, Ilgaz, sisha etc.?!

It is the same person who wrote this comment. He talk about they went to clock tower. :)

In Turkish food tradition, we eat a lot of rice with mean meal. Also there was option for taking coke or not. It was up to participants. I cant control Hotel's selling system. But there were million market around hotel. 

It says ' no drink'. One of the participants was comment about this situation. In every meal, there were a bottle of water for every one. Also there were tea and coffee with all meals. Those are drinks. Also when people were sick, hotel staffs prepared some drinks for them for free.  

For Ilgaz, no one paid any money for travel neither hotel nor Turkish barbeque. But In first day, I informed all participants about paintball and Turkish bath (hamam). It is optional activities and I could help for organizing but there is only one condition, participants needed to pay. Everyone had agree with it. But surprisingly they kept asking 'why we had to pay'

And this participants skipping about energizers, group building games, activities games (dart, orienteering, stick game etc.) Just only focusing on the money (we are talking about 7 Eur for each participants for paintball and transportation) 

They tried to refer paintball. Yes you succeed. Congratulations!
'while other are having fun and sleeping (Ümit)'
First of all we split the duties with other friends (Yağmur, Şule, Elif, Ali, Mansız and Yavuz). Everyone saw that they tried to finish youthpasses. It takes time and they managed it very well. Thank you Yağmur and Şule.
During project time, I slept very little. Every night, I prepared my notes (my cards). Also giving information to Yağmur, Şule Hotel reception, guests etc. Anyway, It is not bad feed back (except you though I am sleeping) It is good feedback which we did good organization all together.

'late night to solve problems about organization that Ümit couldn't handle'.
Ümit couldn't handle that even telling million times about respect the other participants, participants were late all time.
Ümit couldn't handle the travel reimbursement documentation. Participants want their money back even their documents were not completed (Turkish NA wants original documents and I did not make them understand that I cant accept the copy of e-mail. etc.)
Yağmur's or anyone's english could be better then mine. Benedetta's english was the best from other participants and some Holland participants could not speak english even it is not enough so what? We need to support them. I tried. You should try too. Also first day, I already said that my english is not good but It is enough for communication and organizing.

Everybody was awake and saw the Yağmur and Şule in basement. Yes, they slept at 6.00 a.m in morning which I wake up and saw them. And Thanks to them. They are so important for me. 

My card which I created every night for next day. 
spliting duties. while I was sleeping, It has appeared. 

Now, you can check projects' pictures...

I have organized many projects (including youth exchanges). Here is a another project's evaluation letter after project one of leaders wrote  and sent me via a e-mail.

HAFA's aim was realized that happiness is not far away. But with not motivated participants (not all of them of course) it is hard to focus on a topic, any topic. It is hard do put on activity this kind of project because they are  more theoretical, not practical. So with this project, I did not get much info from participants. Still, I believe that happiness is not far away even we are in unhappiness.

But I did my best. We did our best.

Now here some tips for you:

- Dont work NGOs which they do not feel responsible to reply your emails as soon as possible.
- Dont work partners who dont care if you will be in terrible and dont help you for organized
- Change your partner if they have not  given info which you asked before three weeks of activity.
- Give moreeeeeee info if your participants dont know about what is your program and general idea. Forget the schedule, give moreeeee info about your work. It is important.
- Dont work from Compass Egyesület (Hungarian NGO) (exchange@compassegyesulet.hu) with Nándor Csergő (Nandi) and Gergő Gulyás, from Hrvatska Udruga Mladih HUM (Croatian NGO) (bruno.jerkusic@gmail.com) with Bruno Jerkusic and Zoran Cikoja  for sure. They are not responsible partner. They are not good at timing, doing their responsibilities. I have had bad times with them. They cancelled just two days before the activities. Think about it.
- Dont prefer to work from Future in Progress (Romanian NGO) (alexandru_andreescu@ymail.com) with Alexandru Andreescu. It was not good work with him. All time he replied my e-mails last minute and there is no time for fix his faults. Anyway, this organization is not good for being partner.
- Dont prefer to work from Stichting Diversiteitsland - SCME (Holland NGO) (s.turker@diversiteitsland.nl) Salih Türker. He looks like professional. But he is not. He replied my e-mails very late and even I informed him about gender equality, he send me 5 male participants. Even I did not know arrival time and departure time of participants and there were no application forms of them. Even Roos Maier is very good person and she looks like responsible, this NGO and their participants are not motivated for exchanges. If you care your project, dont choose them as a partner.
- You should work from EURECA (Italian NGO) (Francesco.mecorio@gmail.com) with Francesco Mecorio and Claudia Cusseddu. Francesco was good organized. Even he is very very busy, he did his best. All time he has solution. Even we had problem with particpants, he managed it very well. You should work with him. Also Claudia was a good leader. They choose very good participants. All of them have knowledge about project and they are good people. Even project did not go well, they tried to fix and solving problems.

It is a project which young people organize. There will be many many problems for sure. But we need to fix all together.

Partner is very important. Being partner is mean sharing your project with them. If some of partner are in uncomfortable zone, It is mean all partners will be the same position. After this project, I learned many things about partnership. Please, If you dont want to live what I lived, consider what I am saying.

The best for all, dont forget, happiness is not far away and I have an adventure  for reaching it.

P.S: Special Thank for Elif who was all time with me for preparing this project. Şule who before and during the activities, she did her best and showed me that she is ready for taking responsibility. Ali who worked hard even he is busy in his workplace. Mansız (Hasan) who were not in project but even he knew he could not participate, he arrange hotels and work hard. Yağmur who had no experiences but she did her best and next time she will be greater. Murat who is local people in Kastamonu and even he dont know english, he did very good things for project and without him, many activities could not be good like this. Yavuz and Zeynep who supported me all time and added the project good things like guest speaker and pilates :) 
It was pleasure to work all of you and love all of you :)

P.S2: What does being PARTNER in Erasmus+ Youth Exchange Projects mean, do you know? 
Its mean that 
- Prepare the application form together with applicant NGO for enrichment to project and organize activities together. 
- After the project is approved by NA, waiting for applicant NGO for get ready substantial situations and prepare the 'infopack'. During this period, checking the program which prepared with you already and think about what is role of you in this project. 
- With Infopack, search for potential participants and select them who how many are needed for this project. Provide the participants fill application forms. 
- Before three months to the activities, regularly ones a week connect with e-mail/whatsapp/trello/skype to the applicant NGO for getting the news from applicant's side and express the news from your side 
- Make sure that group leader has knowledge about all step of the project and activities. Because they will be facilitator of your group and they will lead about visa or travel etc.. 
- Provide that Reservation or book the travel tickets one month before activities. Being sure that those information reach the applicant one month before of activities. 
- If it is expected from participants like prepare something for intercultural evening or resource of some topic, and if applicant think about special activities for those session, getting those info from applicant and express to the group of your participants. Make sure that they take responsible. 
- Motive to participants for involving 100 percent of activities. 
- Make participants provide that collecting all travel documents (boardingpasses, tickets, bills etc.) And make them send them to the applicant NGO - Provide that applicant NGO send the travel reimbursement money on time and without any missing money. 

ÜTopYa-271535 C MAY 15

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