“Money & role models”
Mr. Selig, one often sees pictures in the newspaper of giant checks being presented to child relief organizations. Why don’t you do this?
Christoph Selig: We are not out there presenting any oversized checks. We don’t just make charitable donations, we provide the SOS Children's Villages with something that would be hard for them to provide on their own: role models for the children and young people.
Can you elaborate on that?
Christoph Selig: SOS Children’s Villages is an established institution with an excellent reputation around the world. It takes care of children who have lost their parents or are at risk of losing their parents. These are orphans and social orphans, and SOS Children’s Villages provides them, as best as possible, with a surrogate family. This works very well until the children turn 14 or 15. As with any family, this is a time of new challenges.
Because puberty takes over?
Christoph Selig: Yes, and it’s particularly hard for these children. At this age they become more fully aware of their own situation, and many feel stigmatized. At the same time, it is an age when many important decisions are made about school and career. Especially in developing countries, the children in the SOS Children’s Villages often have no role models in terms of work and career. The surrogate mothers live and work in the same small village and no one goes off to work. So these kids simply don’t have the experience of a mother or father coming home in the evening exhausted or talking excitedly about their day at work. They do not have this connection to the working world and, as a result, are hesitant and unsure about it. They need positive role models.
And this is where your volunteers come in?
Christoph Selig: Just based on their experience, our employees are natural mentors when it comes to the process of entering professional life. They themselves have applied for jobs, they hire young people, and they are familiar with the systems of education and career development in their respective countries. As the GoTeach program coordinators, we contact our employees in the various countries and ask them to share their individual experiences with these young people – whether it’s job shadowing, internships or other training programs. While the partnership framework is always global, the projects themselves are always local.
Our partnership in Uganda, for example, is a Ugandan product, just as our partnership in Jordan is a product of that country. Everything is tailored to the specific circumstances and challenges in the individual country, as well as to the local Deutsche Post DHL entity, the young people receiving the support, and the employees providing the support. Our employees, by the way, also have the opportunity to expand their own horizons and improve their own social skills in the process.
How exactly can Deutsche Post DHL employees expect to benefit from their involvement in the projects?
Christoph Selig: Many countries around the world are still very class conscious. Members of different social strata avoid contact with each other, and this goes in both directions.
Those in the upper classes feel it is below them and those in the lower classes avoid the contact because they are either too ashamed or too proud?
Christoph Selig: That's a bit overstated, but these reservations are still very real. In our projects you have disadvantaged young people coming into contact with drivers, packers, but also managers. And we see how our employees react to this experience. They often say that the young people from the SOS Children's Villages remind them of their own kids, or they remind them of themselves when they were young and trying to break into the world of work. Our involvement helps us break through many social barriers in our own local operations and helps strengthen bonds within our own teams.
Christoph Selig is Head of the GoTeach Team at Deutsche Post DHL.