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Germany’s bureaucracy buddy on the paper trail

In Germany, official paperwork like filing for unemployment benefits can be complicated. Diana Lantzen from Cologne gave up a well-paying job to help others navigate German bureaucracy – and even started advertising her services on eBay. She works with the organization Wir gehen mit (We’ll go along) and accompanies those who need it to important appointments, like at the unemployment or foreigners’ office.

Beyond that, also she’s using the IT knowledge she gained in her former job to develop web-based assistance programs in the social sector.

Listen to the report by Marcus Costello in Cologne:

Diana Lantzen

Diana used to work in IT, but found that money isn’t the most important thing in life (Photo: Diana Lantzen)

Diana (second from right) has found a way to implement her specific skill set when it comes to helping others ( Photo: M. Costello)

Diana (second from right) has found a way to implement her specific skill set when it comes to helping others ( Photo: M. Costello)

 

 

 

 

 

Date

Tuesday 25.03.2014 | 12:38

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Latvian IT expert gives the people a voice in politics

Kristofs, 23, from Riga wanted to get his fellow citizens more involved in politics. He launched a unique website that allows for digital petitions – and it’s been an immediate success.

Latvian IT expert gives the people a voice in politics

Kristofs Blaus

Kristofs Blaus

From DW reporter Gederts Gelzis in Riga:

For us Latvians, politics is usually something that seems to be very distant. We are more or less like outsiders and, God forbid, if you’re involved into politics in some way or another, you will likely hear: “There’s no dirtier business than that!” And if somebody happens to be connected with politics, then they will be men and women at least in their late thirties, forties or older.

That’s why I was really surprised when I met Kristofs Blaus at his rather small, but light, cosy and somewhat trendy office near the port of Riga – a 15-minute walk from the old town. I didn’t find a serious, middle-aged man wearing a pin-striped suit and holding a leather suitcase standing in front of me. There was a young 23-year-old in a casual outfit and with an unusual hairstyle.

He kind of embodies the great difference between the older generation of Latvians, which experienced the Soviet era and those kids who grew up in the country during the last two decades. He speaks English fluently; he’s an Internet-dweller and speaks his mind openly. And that’s not all – he really seems to care about his debt-ridden country’s future and is willing to do something about it.

I guess that many of his peers think similarly and that’s why his website Manabalss.lv isn’t just a project which happens to be in the right place at the right time. It’s that the tide is slowly turning on what the young Latvians think about participation in political events and during the interview I felt that Kristofs is a clear example of it.

Of course, Kristofs is just one of the 700,000 inhabitants of Riga and the word “politics” is on everyone’s lips ahead of the general election on September 17. But as long as Kristofs doesn’t give up his enthusiasm for developing the website, I believe that there will be more and more Latvians willing to bring about some positive change in their country.

Here is Kristofs’ website manabalss.lv.

And here is his personal blog.

Date

Tuesday 06.09.2011 | 14:50

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