I am posting this blog live from Germany. More exactly from Hofheim am Taunus, near Frankfurt a.M. where IOGT Germany is holding its biannual congress. This year we celebrating even more than democracy, freedom, Human Rights and heart-driven engagement.
This year, we are celebrating 125 years of IOGT in Germany. To this occasion I had the opportunity to address the members of IOGT Germany on behalf of IOGT International.
Here’s my speech translated into English (check against delivery and see below for the German original):
I would like to thank you for the invitation to this exceptional event.
I am honoured and glad to be here and to be able to celebrate together with you the 125th anniversary of IOGT in Germany.
125 years in which you have made the lives of innumerable people richer and freer. That is a tradition I proudly identify with. That is history I often talk about when I talk to people from all around the world about IOGT. This tradition, your history impresses all who engage in voluntary work and who know what it means to be dedicated to civil society organisations.
I, myself, come from Slovakia and was born in Czechoslovakia. My family and I, we know from own experience how history can change everything from one day to the next. I know that 125 years of IOGT in Germany do mean the following: two World Wars, dictatorship twice, one Wall and a divided country, and now a reunited country. 125 years and IOGT has endured all this in Germany, has overcome all this and has survived all this.
You and your IOGT brothers and sisters before you have accomplished great things despite all these catastrophes. And you keep on going. One example that illustrates this is that your IOGT President Helmut Krethe received the Federal oder of Merit this April – for his long-time work against addiction and dependence. I think an individual award is always also an accolade for the entire organisation. We in IOGT International were very impressed and inspired.
IOGT in Germany knows how to overcome difficult times. IOGT is an old, merited movement and therefore we all – you in Germany and we on global level – have to face the question: how do we manage to adjust to the 21st century to continue to play an important role in society?
We need a profound and honest analysis of society and of ourselves. We need appreciation for what has been accomplished. We need courage to walk new ways and we need openness for innovation. After 125 years this is sometimes not so easy, I know that from own experience.
Before the World Congress 2010 in Norway, we in IOGT International went through such a process ourselves. We had analysed what we are good at, what IOGT is best at, how we want to be perceived and in which areas we want to play a key role in order to make a difference. We’ve understood that our strength as IOGT International lies in leading a public discourse that questions alcohol culture, and challenges it and fundamentally changes it.
Now, we’re working purposeful with decision-makers on the highest levels: in the United Nations, the European Union, in the USA and India and in regions like East Africa and South East Asia.
But we have not only modernised and re-branded our external work. We’re also making big efforts to work more closely and better together with our member organisations. That is to say, it is our members, like you, that make up the strength and vitality of a global movement like ours.
A great example is the Rehab-Conference that we organised together with you and the IOGT Berlin-Brandenburg back in November 2013, in Berlin. We would not have been able to make this conference happen and host participants from Europe and Asia if it had not been for your dedication, extra hours and heart-driven commitment. Those were really inspiring days for all participants in Berlin – and I can tell you today that our friends of IOGT Norway will follow your example. They will organise a similar conference under the topic of prevention.
That’s how we want and how we have to work. Together. Together is the magic word. Together we cover all aspects of harm caused by alcohol and other drugs. Together we can work to create better conditions for people to live a freer and self-determined life. Together we do have all the knowledge and expertise – and the best place to experience this is our World Congress. This year we will hold our 68th IOGT International World Congress. I hope that as many of you as possible will join us in Thailand. It’s the first-ever World Congress in Asia. And it si the best opportunity to experience the modern IOGT in all its diversity and to meet old and new friends from all around the world.
as I take a look at IOGT International today, as I listen to you here, and as I think of all the achievements of IOGT Germany over the years, I am getting goose bumps. It’s not exaggerated to say: We have knowledge. We are experts. We are a global movement and together we do have the strength to make society better. The German society needs more alcohol-free environments. The German society needs more prevention, more self-help and rehabilitation, more inclusion, more happy children and more engaged young people. The German society needs more IOGT.
The EU elections have shown that the feeling of fear of others is getting stronger again. In times of crisis like these, it is organisations like IOGT globally and you here in Germany that are especially important. Democracy, tolerance and equality. We stand up for the peaceful solution of conflicts between people and groups.
Therefore do Europe and Germany need more IOGT. More understanding. More community and more opportunities and new chances.
As I look at the IOGT in Germany, as I reflect about your work, I can see a history of 125 years, a history of opportunities and new chances for all people. Opportunities to be yourself; opportunities to change yourself; opportunities to grow; opportunities to stay they way you choose to be; opportunities to learn more; opportunities to get help; opportunities to dream.
All these opportunities are today as important as they were 125 years ago.
In this spirit and to express the tremendous appreciation and admiration that we have in the IOGT International Board for all the opportunities that IOGT Germany has given to people in this country and around the world, allow me to present you with a gift: the symbolic sum of 500 Euro – for the fantastic development work you are doing in Guinea-Bissau.
Happy birthday IOGT Germany! Our warmest congratulations for all your success in the last 125 years. I wish you on behalf of IOGT International loads of energy and enthusiasm for new adventures, challenges and dreams coming true. Your work matters and is needed. And we in IOGT International deeply appreciate it.
Thanks so much…”
Yes, we chose to give a present that supports work by FORUT Germany, the development agency of IOGT Germany.
FORUT staff and supporters were very happy about the gift. Even €500 mean the world in Guinea-Bissau. FORUT is represented with an information stand selling merchandise to fundraise money for development projects.
Meine Rede auf deutsch: RedeKS Guttempler 125 Jahre.