6 Jul 2011 | Mission East

Celebrating 20 years of Mission East


What would make 278 people spend four hours inside on a sunny Saturday in May?

You would know the answer if you attended the Mission East 20-year anniversary and annual meeting held on May 7th in the town of Ringe on the island of Funen in the middle of Denmark.

The meeting was chaired by Mission East ambassador Mikael Jarnvig, a famous weatherman on Danish TV.
Mikael told of his visit to Armenia a few years ago where he witnessed the pioneer work of Mission East among the disabled, in a country where disability is often associated with shame and rejection.
In Armenia, Mission East has not only provided education and medical assistance to people with disability, but also lobbied for the legal provisions for such help, with a law approved by the Armenian Government ensuring just that.

Staff from all over the world
Mission East founders René and Kim Hartzner shared stories of people they had met during recent visits to Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and Mission East staff from all over the world gave presentations on the work carried out in our key project countries.
Just prior to the annual meeting, 22 Mission East staff had met in Denmark for an annual conference, including the Country Directors from Afghanistan, Armenia, Nepal and Tajikistan, who led presentations on projects carried out in their respective countries, resulting in a total of more than half a million people being assisted last year.

Going to North Korea
Managing Director Kim Hartzner presented the work of Mission East in forgotten areas of crisis in the East, and in this context also mentioned the latest project: the distribution of food aid to 3,000 malnourished children in North Korea. In a situation where the UN estimate that up to six million people may face a threatening famine, Kim Hartzner asked for urgent financial support of Mission East’s work in that country.

One of the highlights of the day was when Kim carried out a live interview with the parent of a disabled son in Tajikistan, who had been helped by Mission East to go to school. Also, a live interview was made with a young Armenian man with cerebral palsy who had been helped by Mission East to get an education and who is now working as a lawyer specializing in human rights for people with disabilities.

Truly good news
A special highlight was when René Hartzner, now 75 years old, spoke with emotion of his impressions from a visit to Afghanistan the previous month. This was René’s first visit to that country, and René was truly impressed to see the difference made by the work of Mission East in a country otherwise known in the media for mostly bad news. Every year, Mission East provide assistance to 350,000 Afghans, enabling them to live a life of dignity and with a hope for a better future for themselves and their families - that’s truly good news!

An exotic lunch
Lunch was served for all participants at the annual meeting, with specialties from Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan, and at 3.30 pm everyone could return to their homes all over Denmark – with transportation arranged with buses going along six different routes.
The event was primarily sponsored by business supporters and professional suppliers to Mission East.

You can see pictures from this great day by clicking here.