We have come together with our diverse backgrounds and interests, inspired by a shared vision of a sustainable and just global community. We are engaged in development work, research, and activism, and have many years of experience in a wide range of non-governmental organisations, UN agencies, and research institutions. Our goal is to decentralise debates and actions, strengthen horizontal lines of communication, and foster genuine collaboration across all our projects.
From the left: Masha, Maria, Tim, Anna, Lena, Anne, Boris & Josephine
Dr. Lena Schmid
I am a psychologist by training and after completing my PhD in clinical psychology (University of Heidelberg, Germany), I worked for many years for various development actors in the US, Egypt, Iraq and South Sudan. My responsibilities at Hudara include representation, vision and strategy, organisational management, program design, and fundraising. I also work to develop and put in practice mental health and peaceful coexistence interventions using a community-based approach.
I am particularly interested in people's constructions of meaning and significance in their specific cultural, historical, and natural contexts that shape how they think, feel, want, and act, and I operate at the intersection of mental health and socio-political concerns. I believe that psychological work cannot be separated from social, political, and cultural discourse because human subjectivity always occurs within a particular environment. In addition to my clinical approach, I define myself as a cultural and community psychologist and thus focus on human diversity, social justice, and the importance of contextual factors in human experience and behaviour. Especially when working with people who have experienced war, violence and flight, it is critical to reflect that their psychological suffering cannot be understood without the socio-political conditionality of this suffering.
It is essential for me to explicitly acknowledge my values in my work and to look beyond the privileges that have resulted from my origins in the Global North. I experience situations in which it is not easy to put these values into practice, and I am convinced that our projects at Hudara are effective if, in addition to their content, they also always aim at social change processes and a more just and compassionate human interaction.
Prof. Dr. Boris Heinz
Head of Programme
It is my belief that an integrated approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation, with environmental, economic and development policies, is needed to address the extreme socio-ecological crisis that humanity - especially in the Global North - has created. While - tragically mostly for people in the Global South - coping with everyday life in a changing, hotter climate with frightening uncertainties has already become a harsh reality.
Mitigation and adaptation to climate change and the related aspects of vulnerability and resilience are much discussed, but the political implications are too often ignored. I think it is important to explicitly include aspects such as power relations and different types of inequalities related to climate change adaptation and mitigation in analyses and project activities. Mitigation and adaptation actions are not just of technological nature, but are driven by social processes in which actors at different levels negotiate knowledge, power, and different possible futures. We need to build new paradigms of North-South relations, changing concepts of locality, and increased global interactions, connections, collaborations, and movements.
This conviction has grown stronger over the past 15 years as I have worked at the United Nations and in research institutions on humanitarian and development projects in various countries. At Hudara, I am responsible for organisational management, fundraising and project conceptualisation and implementation in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation. I am committed to initiating and implementing bottom-up actions that put concerned persons and communities at the centre.
I am also a professor of Community Energy and Adaptation to Climate Change at Technische Universität Berlin and a founding member of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association. I hold a master's degree in economics with a focus on climate and development policy from Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, a master's degree in environmental engineering from Technische Universität München, and a PhD in environment from Technische Universität Berlin.
Anne van Leeuwen
I studied Cultural Anthropology and Arabic at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, and upon obtaining my MA degree in Religious Studies with a focus on Islam in the modern world, I moved to Cairo in 2011, right after the so-called Arab Spring resulted in the deposing of Egypt’s longest-serving president, followed by a period of intense social upheaval and unrest.
In my studies, I had a strong focus on the mutual influence of religion and state power and the impact of both on the legal context and the daily lives of people. During my time in Cairo, I have seen and lived by experience how persistent such existing structures of power are, but I have also seen how resilient people can be in carving out their own space of resistance to these structures of power. I believe that only through the engagement of normal people, from the ground up, social change is possible.
Professionally, I have worked in many different capacities, but have always loved applying my skills in the most practical way possible. In Hudara my role as Operations Coordinator is a supporting one, making sure that everybody can focus on their tasks without interruption.
I find a lot of inspiration in human emotions and expressions of love and affection people experience for each other. I believe in a society where the uniqueness of one’s mind and soul is respected and embraced, and where individuals come together and support each other, celebrating their unity and sense of community, too.
Having had experiences in intercultural communication and being in the final steps of obtaining my master’s degree in clinical psychology and psychotherapy (University of Potsdam, Germany), I am happy to be a part of Hudara’s projects in the area of mental health and psychosocial support for people with different cultural backgrounds. I am currently working on projects that offer peer support for people with migration background and help refugees regain their sense of agency, building their life in Germany. Together with my colleagues we are looking for creative and holistic ways to restore mental health after traumatic experiences, as well as facilitate local, more traditional mental healing methods.
In all my work it is important to me to promote anti-patriarchal, community-based and inclusive approaches to mental health. I am especially interested in critical psychotherapy, eliminating epistemic violence in psychological research, and decolonising this branch of science to make it more fair and just to all people, taking their social, political and cultural contexts into consideration.
After my graduation I am planning to continue my education in the direction of psychodynamic feminist therapy and holistic healing methods.
I am passionate about community development at all levels, using my experience and expertise to help find and implement solutions that engage all members and stakeholders of a community. In doing so, I am committed to improving the standard of living, especially of disadvantaged people, through sustainable solutions that also address climate change.
My expertise lies particularly in program design in the social sector, where I have gained a diverse work experience with government institutions, multilateral organisations and in the NGO sector. Thus, I have been involved in project management, community mobilisation, research, monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning, capacity development, and results-based reporting.
I hold a Master of Arts in Project Planning and Management (University of Nairobi, Kenya), a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies (Mount Kenya University), and a Diploma in Community Development (Pwani University, Kenya). I am a Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) scholar - Cohort 42.
My role at Hudara is to support energy communities for social development in Sierra Leone, Kenya and Madagascar through the ENERGICA project. I believe that commitment, teamwork, and collaboration are important to the success of any project, and I am happy to be part of Hudara, which provides a culture of collaboration and an environment of continuous learning in which to thrive. Working together and building an inclusive society is fundamental for me to be able to achieve a sustainable way of life together.
With a degree in Renewable Energy Systems (Technical University Berlin, Germany), professionally, I have a technical background. However, I am convinced that every technical consideration is directly linked to a social and societal dimension and any problem-solving process must do justice to the underlying complexity. This is relevant for every context, and of fundamental importance when considering transitions on a global scale. I am interested in holistic approaches, through which technology, especially renewable energies, can be a tool in breaking down global injustices. I believe that bottom-up, community-energy approaches are an integral part to universal access to clean energy and are essential to climate justice.
At Hudara I am involved in projects addressing the shortcoming of energy access in displacement settings. Despite its fundamental importance, even the most basic energy services are not available to many displaced persons. The knowledge I have acquired in this field leads me to believe that a paradigm shift is necessary, in which the importance of energy access for a dignified life is truly acknowledged, and the approaches to achieving energy access are rethought from the bottom-up, putting the long-term wellbeing and empowerment of displaced persons in the centre of considerations. On a large-scale, this includes a continuous process of self-reflection and the questioning of existing power structures.
My goal is to contribute to a peaceful and just future, which enables a good life for all and where people live in balance with their natural environment. I believe that by building actions on equal partnerships (on eye level), we can attain an impactful transformation towards sustainability.
As project manager for the MAESHA project at Hudara, I am working with local communities on the island of Mayotte to ensure that the transition towards renewable energy happens with and for local people. The community-based approach lies at the heart of the MAESHA project. This means that community needs are considered right from the beginning of project implementation in order to provide a lasting access to energy and improve people's well-being and quality of life in all areas of human development.
I studied international management as a bachelors degree (NEOMA Business School Reims, France; ESB Business School Reutlingen, Germany) and worked for different economic actors until I realized that I want to use my skills and knowledge only for projects I fully stand behind. My master’s degree in sustainable development (University of Graz, Austria; University of Basel, Switzerland) opened up new perspectives and awakened my passion for international development cooperation. Before joining Hudara, I gained experience in different organisations such as GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation GmbH) and the German Tunisian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I am also a yoga teacher and I love sharing my enthusiasm for non-violent communication.