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The DRH movement - past and present


Today, the DRH movement is a global movement of 12 colleges that carry out the same kind of programmes as we do at CICD. We have joined hands to constantly improve our programmes and continue to offer opportunities for people to take active part in creating development and fighting shoulder to shoulder with The Poor. There are 2 schools in Denmark, 1 in Norway, 1 in England, 2 in the USA, 1 in China, 3 in India, 1 in South Africa and 1 in the Caribbean. For more information go to this web site:

First some glimpses of the history of the DRH movement.

DRH is an abbreviation of Danish for the Travelling Folk High School. The first one saw the light of day in Denmark, the homeland of the famous folk high school tradition. The school was started by a group of 8 teachers, who had been travelling around the world throughout the sixties.

During the first 10 years, the school became a hit in Denmark and throughout Scandinavia. Thousands of young people attended courses with the purpose of travelling, getting to know our planet, meeting and making new friends and learning about their lives. More than 140 countries were visited and a distance travelled that equals that from the Earth to the Moon and back again over 100 times. Every mode of travel was tried out - driving in old busses across Europe and Asia to India, sailing through Europe in small self-made river boats, flying to South America and hiking around, driving motorbikes across the USA, with dog sleds across the ice of Greenland, across the Soviet Union to China with the Trans-Siberian Railway, across the Sahara desert in 4-wheel drives, canoeing through the wilderness of Canada, and tandem biking in the Caribbean. The classic programme took 9 months - 2 months preparations, 4 months travel and 3 months information work.

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The sixties and seventies was a time when many people across the globe had started to know more about what was going on in the wider world. It was made possible in all developed countries by factors like economic growth, better education and the invention of the television. Many people in the rich part of the world discovered the reality of the vast inequalities between people all over the world and began to think that maybe this was also their business. The Travelling Folk High School had a big impact in this situation. The lessons learned were simple: the globe is inhabited by human beings pretty much the same - some poor, some rich - some black, some white - some Buddhists, some Muslims.... but all with a wish to live a good life in peace, to make a living, get educated, have good health, to raise children, to enjoy and endure, to make a difference and to change things for the better. Possibilities and conditions were, however, very different. In some places there was enough or more than enough. In other places, even small changes had overwhelming effect and regardless of how hard people worked, they were not able to fundamentally change their basic living conditions.

The constant confrontation with a world where the distance between rich and poor was huge and rapidly growing in spite of a global increase in the level of wealth fostered a sincere wish to take action and to become part of the solution to this unworthy situation. It was therefore a natural development to change from travelling and studying the situation in the world to becoming an active force in changing matters for the better. So from 1980 the school programme changed from travelling to participating.

It started on a small scale - like bringing vitamin tablets to the children in a village in India or stuffing all the warm overcoats that could fit into the trunk of the bus to bring to poor people in Eastern Turkey where the winter could take temperatures down below -40 degrees. It was packing agricultural seeds, donated by the local supermarket, in the rucksack and bringing them to farmers in rural Bolivia. All initiatives came spontaneously from meeting people in need and knowing that you yourself had so much and had the possibility to get hold of more.

This developed into longer periods of 1 - 2 months of stopping over in one place to participate in building a school, a kindergarten or a small workshop with money or materials raised and brought from home.

In 1977, what today is the International Humana People to People Movement was founded by some of the teachers from the Travelling Folk High School in order to create a practical instrument for fighting against the conditions of poverty, disease and distress and working to implement a better way for people to live on the planet in the future.

The Travelling Folk High School formed a co-operation with Humana People to People, and since 1980 the schools have been engaged in development work around the world. In co-operation the schools and Humana People to People offer a possibility for everybody to take part in development projects in Africa, Asia or Central America. Over the past 30 years thousands of people of all ages and nationalities have taken this opportunity.

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From a humble beginning Humana People to People has now developed into a global organisation. It consists of 43 country associations running a total of 360 projects and reaching 12 million people. The projects aim to build people's capacity and skills in being able, through their own efforts, to create a better living. Since the first Solidarity Workers, as Development Instructors were initially called, came to rural areas in Africa and put up their camp and started to work along with the people, they have had a great success. In the beginning, the many locals flocked to the building site, attracted by the rumours of these strange white people working. But very soon the Solidarity Workers were taken into the hearts of the community and have remained there ever since. Slowly the people realised that Solidarity Workers did not practice charity or expected gratitude for their actions - they simply wished to be regarded as ordinary fellow humans, who put their energy into creating development where it was lacking and expected them to do likewise.

Many things have changed over the past 30 years - in the world, and consequently also in the programme of the Travelling Folk High Schools. With the birth of the new millennium, Solidarity Workers became Development Instructors, reflecting the accumulated knowledge and experiences in how to create development. In 2011 many of the schools have formed a partnership with One World University in Mozambique to offer degree courses, and many new programmes are seeing the light of day. The main profile of the programmes remains to fight shoulder to shoulder with The Poor for a  fairer world.

The students attend the programmes as part of a team and will prepare for their Development Instructor jobs in groups of 3. Each Trio gets a job in the line of work carried out by Humana People to People. The projects themselves are long term projects with a permanent staff of local and international project leaders. The Development Instructors are a perpetual input of new energy that is of great value in the development because each contribution is part of an organised and continuous activity.

Development is a phenomenon of many faces and many places. It cannot be patented and there is no recipe. Each Development Instructor must generate the courage to take an active part in finding answers and in joining the fight together with The Poor in the slums of the cities and in the villages in the rural areas where it happens. In the world of reality.

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