What is AGERTO?
AGERTO (Assotioation Germano-Togolaise) is a non-gobernal-organisation in Togo (West Africa) that was founded in March 1999 in Agome Tomegbé 16 km out of Kpalimé (region Kloto).
AGERTO aims to reduce the extreme poverty by focusing on the youth and giving them opportunities for their lives through free apprenticeships, since they are the future of our society.
The first impression
On the side of the road Hanyighba in Kpalimé one can find a large gate that leads onto a spacious property.
When entering, the relaxed atmosphere welcomes the visitor can already hear which professions are being taught here.
At the entry there is the noise of the wood saws in the carpentry. A little bit further the manual sewing machines in the tailor’s throbs. On the other side the sculpture artists create their great work. The weaving and the little infirmary can be found in another building. Maybe there is also an apprentice singing somewhere.
In front of a storage building the German and the Togolese flags are blowing in wind.
From the kitchen streams a delicious scent.
The buildings are all painted in various colours with different motifs. The names of the most engaged sponsors and supporters are written onto the walls: Togo-Hilfe e.V., Alfons Goppel Stiftung, Main-Post-Zeitung.
The young people of the project say:
Our objective is to realise a solid schooling and responsible and sustainable education for young adults with a difficult social background. We take the responsibility for their wellbeing until they have finished their diploma successfully. The training takes three years during which they are being supported by the hearty instructors. After the training the impoverished and neglected youth can free themselves from the poverty by earning their own living with the profession they have learned at AGERTO.
Moreover AGERTO is engaged in the areas of environment, ecotourism, wood crafting and intercultural exchange, gives education about topics like HIV/Aids and the significance of hygienic standards for the general health in isolated regions. To actively help the environment reforestation is also sustained.
The apprentices at AGERTO wear self-made uniforms with the Togolese and German flag sewn onto the shoulders. The day starts at 7.30 in the morning with a flag ceremony, which everyone attends. The apprentices sing the hymns of Togo and Germany.
Until the lunch break at 12 o’clock the young adults work and study in the different studios. At lunchtime they sit together to enjoy the food that is home made in the centre. Some students go home to eat lunch.
At 2 pm the lessons start again until 5 pm.
On Thursday afternoons there is the possibility to attend a French course. Since some apprentices have only visited primary school the level of French is not very high. However French is the official language in Togo and therefore a base for conversations and contact with authorities.
Additionally, there are computer courses, because the majority of the youth never sat in front of a computer and for the ones who have not sufficiently learnt French there is a course to help them.
On the weekends the apprentices have free time.
Especially young mothers, orphans, street children, neglected, convicts and disadvantaged youth from an underpriviliged environment receive a free professional formation in the following working areas:
Additionally there are computer, German and French lessons held.
The apprentices receive support, hope and therefore an opportunity for their future until they pass the diploma and can start their independent way.
For AGERTO it is important to give the youth a little help to start their life and save them from a life on the field or on the streets, but not to reduce liberty.