Monday, August 20, 2007


Hello everybody.....I am back in Malaysia after a fantastic and excellent training i had on Liberalism in Gummersbach, Germany.

My gratitude to Era Consumer Malaysia for nominating me to attend this training and i would also like to express my sincere salutations and thanks to the Freidrich Naumann Stiftung for creating such an excellent module which was not only effective but I must say enjoyable.

The Chances and Challenges of Liberalism will always remain a challenge in many countries including Malaysia, its like if you want to see the rainbow you have to put up with the rain, in this context if you want to have Liberalism you have to put up with thousand of challenges.

I am not going to dwell in this topic in my writings today but will talk about it in time to come. Today i am just going to write about my new friends I made during the 14 days stay in Gummersbach, Germany.

I will start introducing them one by one starting from the left.

Alexandra Cuyegkeng (Philippines)

Alex was one of our facilitators. She was very active and I must say she was also very helpful to explain details to the participants. She made sure we all understood our assignments well and walked in and out of the training rooms to explain details.

Ikmal Dzhomova (Bulgaria)

One of the youngest girl in the group. I remember that when I was picked up from the Cologne Railway Station she was sitting in the van very quietly and I spoke to her when I got down and she told me that this was her first time and that she never went out alone and was afraid that she may not blend well with the others, but, after a few days she confessed that this was her best trip and she was very sad that she will be missing all of us soon. Ikmal was also one of our active participant; she never kept quiet and expressed her views very well.

Miguel Argueta Giron (Guetamala)

Never in my wildest idea would I have thought of having a friend in Guetamala. I would normally tease my friends in Kuala Lumpur and ask them the capital of Guetamala as not many of them knew the answer. Now, I have a friend there. Miguel or as we called him ‘Miguelito’ is a great man, he spoke both Spanish and English. Quiet but blended very, very well with all of us.

John Jaisey (Ghana)

One of the founder members of ‘Puetro-Puetro Papa’ group. John was like a brother, not only to me, but to all of us in the group. His favorite line: ‘Oh! No’. He was an all rounder, not only in sports, but in everything. Can you imagine he learnt to play the pools from Roberto and finally he beat Roberto on the same game? Fast learner. Plenty of Potential as he said ‘the biggest enemy of Liberalism in Ghana is ……..’ (You know what I mean John.) We also know his weakness and John don’t worry we wont tell anyone about Tequila).

Yolanda Duvenage (South Africa)

A very polished personality. I have enormous respect for Yolanda. She speaks fluently in Spanish and English that made her into the Spanish Discussion groups immediately. Very active participant and has contributed without mincing any of her word when we talk about poverty and education.

Sarinthon Sachavirawong (Thailand)

AKA Jyothi. She is probably the first Siamese person I met who can speak fluent English without any grammatical error. She blended well with all the participants and was like a teacher for many of us (including me). She knew of many things that is happening around us and the good thing was that she was willing to share them with everyone.

Birgit Lamm – Director IAF (Germany)

Well we could say that she was the Principal of the Academy where we were the students. She was strict especially when it comes to GT (German Time i.e. Punctuality). But, I must say as a person, she was a nice and friendly person. She was touched and infact confessed that our group was not only different but probably one of the best by the way of our thinking and also the surprises that we had.

Glenda Olid (Philippines)

Miss Peace (V). She is never in shortage of smiles. Glenda was like one of the life wires in the group. She had her own way to ensure that rifts amongst the participants were minimum (not that there were any). A very bubbly character and a very good Filipino Ambassador. She was always to lend support for all the activities planned.

Dieter Schonebohm – Interpreter (Uruguay)

All the while I thought he was a German and when I was informed that hew has a Uruguayan – I was shocked. His English and Spanish were very good. I know it is not easy being an interpreter. Interpreters can actually put you to sleep, but, not Dieter.

Rana Birden (Turkey)

The first person to arrive and the last one to leave Gummersbach. She was a great friend and was a mover in the group. She was actually like a guide to many of us who arrived on the first day. She was a good implementer. Whatever the group decides she would be there to ensure we complete them successfully. A great team player and she was a very active participant in all the activities

Saira Ansari (Pakistan)

Miss Hyper Active….is there any other word? I don’t know. She is a great photographer and has great sense in photography. I was impressed with some of the photographs she took and presented at the last day of the programme. Very active Human Rights person and she proved it when she sat in the panel where she was supposed to play the role of a Union Activist. I got worried actually. But, she did well and I am sure she will become a great person that Pakistan needs.

Loubna Amhair ( Morocco)

Ms. Smile and the Ms. Eyes of the group. She has a great smile which could easily make others who are sad to forget all their sadness. I must say I enjoyed my conversations with her and I did mention that her thoughts and opinion about Islam is something that I have great respect. I wish some of my Malaysian friends are like her. A very good ambassador on the Moroccan culture and I am indeed very sure that many of us have now learnt the tradition. Keep the smile Luna!

Ahmed Hassan (Egypt)

My second friend in Egypt after Ashraf El Banna and one thing common with them – they are real jokers. A camel and the pyramids he wanted to sell along with the sweets and by the way; he did sell a bungalow with a swimming pool and 2 crocodiles to Ikmal. I never saw him got angry or even upset. He was never short of gift, starting from the T-Shirt then the book mark then the paper print and in the van he gave me some stamps.

Wulf Pabst – Facilitator (Germany)

Mr. Wulf (WOLF). I hope FDP will one day form the Government in Germany and then Mr. Wulf will be the man to watch. Has great potential and if he is not in that cabinet – Liberalism has failed in FDP. Plenty of things to learn from him.

Roberto Dietrich (Romania)

One of the founder members of ‘Puetro-Puetro Papa’ group. He is like the future son-in-law for most of the female participants. Besides being a great guy and the most wanted guy amongst the female participants. He was also a perfect gentleman. A complete personality and a good friend. If I travel to Eastern Europe for a holiday Romania will surely be one of my stops, not because of the country because I must meet my brother Roberto again.

Chhuon Koy (Cambodia)

I don’t know who have him the nick name CODE NAME: JOHN. But I think no other name would have suited him well. He did not speak much and was very disciplined person. He had self imposed curfew. The amazing thing was that I got to know more of him during my journey back from Gummersbach to Bangkok. Nice chap and a very intelligent person.

Efraim Morais Filho (Brazil)

One of the founder members of ‘Puetro-Puetro Papa’ group. The Samba King and the King of many other things. Efraim, John and I had a chat after the dip in the pool during the trip to Dresden – the best chats we ever had, I think that chat we had brought us even closer and we respected each other more. The party king who was the spinner of all parties in the group.

Maryna Khromykh (Ukraine)

The youngest girl and can you imagine she is already talking about Liberalism. Has great potential in her life not only with her beauty but also with her ability to deliver messages. She was one of the most artistic person in the group and the other person is off course Saira Ansari.

Francisco Jarquin Urbina (Nicaragua)

Our Member of Parliament and the future President of Nicaragua – YES I will pray for his success. He is the only guy that could not speak English. But he is one friend who I interacted a lot. Infact, we both went shopping together. He spoke Spanish and I Spoke English and we both could not understand each other. YES I nearly cried when I had to hug him to say GOOD BYE. That’s what friendship could do – There can be no language barrier.

Elena Dimitrova (Bulgaria)

My best friend. She is a very vibrant girl and she is not afraid in not agreeing to any point raised. Her favourite words when not agreeing ‘No…No…” it has to be said 2 times in a row. I must thank her for extending her hospitality when I said I may decide to visit Bulgaria. She is a good team player and very active contributor for any idea. I am sure Elena will have a great future not only in her career but in her life. Yes, Elena, i will visit you in Sofia one day.

Claudia Medrano Bardales (Honduras)

Wife of the future President of Honduras. I must say all my Latin American friends are wonderful people, so mush so, that I have told my self that I must travel to their countries one day and soon. Claudia is always there to lend a helping hand to any one who needs it. She made sure that some of our messages in English get across to Francisco as well.

Borbala Baittrok (Hungary)

I don’t know if it’s the country or what, she always says that she is Hungry and I really don’t know if it has to do with the country. I was afraid to play table tennis with her as she was good and need not mention she was also a good table soccer player. A complete personality who got on well with everyone in the team.

Alejandro Lopez Tenorio (Mexico)

The Salsa Man and another great friend. Alejandro knew how to get along well with everyone. He was very savvy in his approach and how can I forget – another founder member of the Puetro-Puetro Papa Group. A good dancer! Especially when it is salsa. Wonder, if he is conducting some classes back in Mexico during his free time.

Dilshani Samaraweera (Sri Lanka)

A journalist by profession and also a journalist for the team. She is the first choice when it comes for the appointment of who is going to take the minutes for the proceedings. A quiet girl but very intelligent. I hope there are many more Sri Lankan in Colombo like her.

Nathee Jarupunphol (Thailand)

I won’t say the C word he is the Mr. Political Analyst for the Democrats in Thailand. I hope the Democrats will be able to win the election in Thailand. Nathee, not for your sake but for my sake. At least then, I have a good reason to go to Bangkok. Yes, BUDDY I will visit you soon.

Ribal N. Zwein (Lebanon)

No way can you be a terrorist. Ribal has great sense of humor and he can make people laugh easily. A wonderful friend, although I had my reservation on the first two days, but, once I got to know him, I realized that I was wrong. Ribal is a first class businessman and I have plenty of things to learn from him.

Maia Gogidze (Georgia)

Mommy!….I like the way John called her mommy. Maia means invisible, but, Maia was not invisible, she made sure she was there at all time and was a very active and dedicated team player. Her identity was her laughter. Maia, Maryna and John put them together in a room and if the laugh, no one can be sad.

Pablo Caravia – Interpreter (France)

Pablo was the man. He was a good dancer and a good sportsman. He was very creative in his jokes and at times I do wonder how he can interpret things without making anyone laugh. All the time I thought French people were very square, but, Pablo has changed that perception.

Feline Freier – IAF Coordinator (Germany)

Big sister to all. She is the 911 and made sure every aspect of the participants are taken care. A complete person as well. She is into everything and anything. Sports, dancing, discussion, excursions and you name it. I must say she was the dream queen for a person and to a certain extent she was very well protected.

MY VIEWS……… How I wish we could all meet again. I don’t know if we will ever meet again and when that thought comes in. it makes me sad. I take a look at all your pictures and become happy for a while, but after that its sadness again. We never knew each other from Adam’s and just within 2 weeks we have created a good relationship. I am a true believer of friendship just like most of you but I think the test is how we are going to maintain this everlasting friendship. MAY GOD BLESS all of you and TILL WE MEET AGAIN.


Anonymous said...

Easily I agree but I about the brief should have more info then it has.

Romy said...

hello, i made a seminar once in 1998, with naumann found. it was about human rights. I also met great people, but i lost contact with them.
I see you met Pablo Caravia too, do you have his email. i´d like to write him.
thanks a lot,
Romy HenrĂ­quez