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American Women's Club of Hamburg

2015 Region 5 Meeting in Düsseldorf, November 6–8—Bridges to the International Woman

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Region 5 2015 Photo The Region 5 Meeting, hosted by AWC Düsseldorf, began on Friday evening, November 6, with a buffet-style dinner in the SAS Radisson Blu in downtown Düsseldorf. The goal of the night was to introduce the favored charities of each club, as well as to provide a chance for members from different clubs to meet and catch up. Region 5 clubs in attendance included Munich IWC, AIWC Cologne, AIWC Frankfurt Taunus Rhein-Main, AWC Düsseldorf (AWCD), AWC Hamburg and AWC Berlin. Other clubs, not in Region 5, represented were AWC Dublin, AWC The Hague and AAWE Paris. 

Ve Mellinghaus, the AWCD Charities Coordinator, began the presentations on the club charities. AWCD supports six charities in addition to the FAWCO Target Project. Ve’s heart-felt presentation focused on KinderschutzAmbulanz at the Protestant Hospital in Düsseldorf that is a treatment and counseling center for physically, psychologically and sexually abused children, neglected children and for children that have witnessed violence within their families. The presentations that followed showed that just not AWCD is passionate about their charities.

The meeting continued on Saturday with “Not In My Backyard”, a two-part presentation featuring Andrea Hitzke of the Dortmunder Mitternachtmission, e.V. in Dortmund and Ursula Habrich and Daniela Schligten, from Frauen Beratungstelle Neuss, e.V.. The Mitternachtsmissions, founded in 1918 and under the umbrella of KOK (German NGO Network against Trafficking in Human Beings) provides counseling and help to prostitutes and victims of human trafficking. In 2014 they worked with 692 women, girls and boys—205 were victims of human trafficking (primarily from Bulgaria) and 60 were minors. Andrea Hitzke, who has been with the organization over 30 years, pointed out that Dortmund isn’t a hotspot for human trafficking but that the police look for the crime. The Frauenberatungsstelle Neuss, under the umbrella of Frauen Helfen Frauen e.V. Neuss, provides counseling and helps victims of domestic violence.  Ursula Habrich and Daniela Schligten showed a documentation of their breathtaking exhibition „Before You Judge Me, Walk a Mile in My Shoes“ on how a woman finds herself a victim of domestic abuse.  The speakers addressed how their organizations help women, emotionally and legally, to begin a new life. 

After the coffee break, Belinda Steiert and Christian Schmidt presented “Expat Women’s Finances.” Ms. Steiert, a German attorney and AWC Düsseldorf member, spoke on divorce for expatriate women and Mr. Schmidt, a tax expert, focused on tax and inheritance law. Belinda Steiert emphasized that it is important to be aware that the divorce of a German citizen and U.S. citizen residing in Germany falls under German law. It is important to be aware of the issues of spousal support, child custody, child support, distribution of property and division of debt and how they will affect you in case of a divorce. Christian Schmidt focused on the fact that U.S. citizens living in Germany are under German inheritance law. Planning of testaments, transfer of property in the case of succession, and estate distribution are issues that should be  well-planned.

Several Saturday afternoon activities were offered. Jenny Taylor, AWCD member, lead a group to the MedienHafen for an outdoor architectural tour. Charmaine Kemeny, Elaine Terlinden and Anita Khemani (all AWCD members) hosted a group for shopping on the "Ko" and Jen Todd, AWCD, took a group to the Japanese EKO House for a tour. Meanwhile Barbara Buehling, AWCD President, hosted Dr. Yvonne Koch for a discussion on her life as a holocaust survivor.

On Saturday evening the Brauerei Schumacher, brewing beer and hosting guests for 175 years, set the stage right for a great social evening.

On Sunday morning there were presentations by Leslie Collingridge, FAWCO 2nd Vice President, on the functions and focus of the FAWCO Board and Patti Meek, The FAWCO Foundation President, on the purpose of The FAWCO Foundation. Mary Adams presented news of a proposed symposium on Human Trafficking next October in The Hague. We enjoyed a presentation by FAWCO Youth Program cultural volunteers who participated in the 2015 Mumbai trip. 

Angelika McLarren, Region 5 Coordinator, announced that AWC Berlin would be the venue for the 2016 Region 5 Meeting. The concluding event was a luncheon in the hotel restaurant where members were able to say their goodbyes and talk about registering for the FAWCO Interim Meeting in March of 2016. 

A special thank you to Co-Chairs Karen Van Antwerp and Jen Todd and the members of AWCD for organizing a very successful conference!

For more information contact Carol at fawcorep@awchamburg.org.

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