On Thursday 14th of January 2011 at the Schloss Bellevue, the German President Christian Wullf honoured 60 citizens, these are mostly people engaged in pastoral care, promoting various cultures, integration, taking care of the homeless, education and environmental protection. The President used the opportunity to thank them for their continual relentless services.
Top representatives from government, business and culture came to the New Year Reception. Among them were the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel (CDU), Guido Westerwelle - Vice- Chancellor (FDP) Left Party (Links) Chairman Gesine Lötzsch and Klaus Ernst were also in attendance. Security was very high.
The President and his wife Bettina welcomed the invitees. The couple stood giving pet talks, smiling and the ritual of shaking hands was for about three hours. One needs a lot of energy for this exercise.
The federal cabinet ministers were the last to be ushered in; they took group photos and later mingled with the honoured citizens freely. It was fascinating to be in the same small room with the most powerful German politicians.
The most noticeable among the guest was Mrs. Sylvaina Gerlich, a Ghanaian resident in Hamburg. Her clothe was tailored to perfection. She has since been engaged with youth activities. She is also a member to the Hamburg “Integrationsbeirat” an Advisory Council to the port city of Hamburg on migration issues. She is currently a founding member of IMIC e.V “Interkulturelle Migranten Integration Centre e.V.”
She has been counselling Africans on social issues, helping those searching jobs. Was supportive to the just failed “School Reform” in Hamburg. Helping fight discrimination in house location policies of Hamburg. Her self confidence, dedication and ability to withstand pressure are what saw her through.
She has since 1997 been very active with social projects in Ghana her country of origin. She has been supporting charity programs, shipped hospital equipments, used clothes and toys for kindergartens.
She was excited! One could see that written all over her face during the photo sections. She felt very honoured, motivated and this confirms she is on the right path. I share this honour with all my working colleagues; with out them I could not have come this far she said.
The visit to the Presidential palace was an eye opener to our small community. The African community needs more exposure; it gave us an insight to protocol at the highest level. For democracy to mature in Africa, those in the Diaspora must have a taste of it at least at the local community.