The Arthur Waser Foundation is neither a mere sponsor for projects nor does it aim at implementing an agenda of its own. Instead, it understands partnership to mean the intensive, mutual examination of contexts, values, strategies, competencies and capacities. This creates relationships of exchange of ideas and shared learning platforms, whereby money is no more important than, for example, gaining knowledge and the lines of action that can be derived from it.
The foundation thus relies on strong partnerships with civil society organizations in the African focus countries. In doing so, Christian congregations in particular are taken into account due to their ability to get involved in their social works in long-term and sustainable ways and their value base.
The foundation relies and bets on systemic approaches of its partners. It strengthens and promotes the partners (and also itself) in the ability to understand the systems and to change them in a targeted and sustainable manner.
The Arthur Waser Foundation rejects all forms of neo-colonialism. It works with independent and self reliable partners. At the request of those partners, the foundation also supports the strenghtening of their operational capacities and resources.
«Any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence;… to alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects.»
The unequal distribution of money, power and responsibility, which characterizes many societies, makes it impossible for people to develop their full potential and to participate in decision making and social design processes in their societies. The Arthur Waser Foundation’s strategies in the education sector are inspired by Maria Montessori’s conviction that children and young people who are granted the right to free expression and development have the ability to change societies in a sustainable and positive ways. The right to one’s own development process applies to all people in all societies, regardless of whether they are preschool children in Tanzania, teenagers in Ghana or adults in Switzerland. We are, therefore, sustainably enthusiastic about partner organizations for which the participation and empowerment of their stakeholders are of crucial importance.
Foundation work is traditionally characterized by bilateral relationships between the foundation and the recipient. The focus is on a conditional donation in the technical sense: money flows à fond perdu from the foundation to the recipient, who in return performs certain actions and services and reports on them. The foundation’s position is continuously strengthened by the fact that the foundation goes through an intensive learning process with a large number of recipients who deal with similar problems, while the recipients are limited to bilateral exchange with the foundation. The Arthur Waser Foundation radically questions this logic. It promotes exchange and synergy among the recipients and supports their networking and contributions to joint learning. This enables collective learning processes and networked strategies, without which systemic change would not be possible.
Capacity Building on demand
The Arthur Waser Foundation maintains long-term relationships with its partners in order to achieve mutual agendas through common strategies. At the request of the partners, the foundation also supports the strenghtening of their operational capacities and resources.
The systemic approach of the Arthur Waser Foundation can be described with the metaphor of acupuncture. In traditional Chinese medicine, to put it simply, the doctor places needles in the neuralgic points of the energy pathways in the human body, thereby balancing energy flows by unblocking them or, on the contrary, slowing them down. With minimal interventions, she sets the body’s strong self-healing powers in motion. The prerequisite for this is that the Chinese doctor knows this system very well and knows how to intervene. In the metaphor of acupuncture, resp. of the systemic approach, the partner organizations of the Arthur Waser Foundation are assigned the role of doctor. They intervene in the neuralgic points of the social systems and get their self-healing powers flowing. The money required for this actually only plays the role of the needle. Knowledge of how to intervene is based on experience and intensive learning processes with the steepest possible learning curves.
The images of the realities on the African continent are very much shaped by photographers from the Global North. The pictures, which are mainly produced on behalf of aid organizations and massively disseminated by them, constructs and cements the narrative of grateful beneficiaries in an otherwise extremely poor, needy continent. This narrative primarily serves the fundraising campaigns and is essentially neocolonial.
The pictures of our partner organizations were taken by African photographers. Images and texts about other partners are constantly being added.