“Helping is difficult”

Annechien Deelman (1961), MUNDO project manager and filmmaker

“Since I was young, I’ve loved to travel; I thought everyone did. At high school I wasn’t good at topography, but I found it fascinating to browse through atlases. I also like Google Earth; I really love maps. If I start a project in a new country, the first thing I do is buy a map of the country. I wonder how one crosses that border there, or what kind of nature reserve that is there.”

Sierra Leone
“Twenty hours a week I work as a project manager for MUNDO. It usually involves ‘capacity building projects’ for knowledge institutions, in which PBL often plays an important role. I do the acquisition of the projects, the implementation, the evaluation. For example, for Cordaid we recently supported a midwifery school in Sierra Leone in converting their curriculum, and the number of qualified midwives tripled after the project was completed. I was very impressed by the ability of these people to incorporate and implement knowledge.”

Frans Bromet
“I’d like to make a movie there at some point. For the past two years, next to my job I’ve been setting up and working on Tutkeij Filmverhalen, a company that makes documentaries. The involved documentaries of Frans Bromet always speak to me, and I’ve followed a few of his trainings. I still have a lot to learn, but I do it mainly because I enjoy it so much.”

“For both of my jobs, my unbridled curiosity comes in handy. You have to be able to watch and listen without judgment. If your basic attitude is judgmental, you build a kind of wall around yourself, and you’ll never really find out what moves someone. I actually think that every high school student should go abroad for six months to experience that people everywhere are actually generally the same. That reduces judgement and susceptibility to populist stories.”

“I really like that our university is brave enough to work with knowledge institutes beyond the ‘usual suspects’ from the affluent West. We connect with the next generation of politicians and policy makers in developing countries; I sometimes think that that’s the only salvation in the chaos the world is in now. Development remains a difficult area, I think. Helping in general is difficult. Before you know it, you’ve helped someone cross the street who didn’t want that at all. I have difficulty with the word ‘help’, I think. ‘Help’ has a connotation of: you don’t know what you need to do and we’ll come and take the job off your hands. It’s unbelievable how quickly people think they know what’s good for someone else. I’ve learned through my work that you’ll never understand exactly how a country runs, so you don’t know what is needed. Through MUNDO, UM supports research institutes in their own development, at their own request. That’s a better way to do it, I think.”

Watch a short film by Annechien, on the impact of a capacity building project, funded by the Dutch government through Nuffic and implemented by Mundo, Maastricht University.

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