The Last Word
Henrike Bartels Is Working for Greenpeace in Moscow.
Henrike Bartels is 27, from West Berlin, Germany. She works for Greenpeace in Moscow. Passport Magazine gave her The Last Word.
Why did you come to Russia?
I come from West Berlin. Nobody in my family had any connection with Russia or spoke Russian. But when I studied International Forest Ecosystem Management at the University for Applied Sciences, outside of Berlin, we had to spend the 3rd and the 6th semesters abroad. Everybody was choosing destinations like Spain and the US, but we were only 50km from the Polish border! Those places seemed so boring to me.
You went to Poland first?
Yes. First for an internship to the Puszcza Bialowiejska, the national park close to the border with Belorussia, and then for a study exchange at the Forestry Faculty at Poznan University. It was my first step East, as a preparation for Russia. Then, 2 years later, I went for a language course in Irkutsk. And after I got back to Germany, I was determined to return.
How did you get involved with Greenpeace?
The same year I came back to Russia to visit a friend in St Petersburg and look for something to do. I came across the Greenpeace website and thought that it would be perfect for me.
How did you become involved with fundraising?
Well, I realized that what I like most is working with people. And I also realized that what is needed most is money. So I decided to go into the fundraising department at Greenpeace, and simultaneously take an external degree at the German Fundraising Academy. In the evenings I teach German in two language schools. It is sometimes hard, but I like it. Being a fundraiser involves a deep knowledge of human psychology.
What exactly are you doing in fundraising?
I am working with the Germans living here – trying to reach them and gain their support for what Greenpeace does in Russia. There are many Germans in Moscow, and they think well of what Greenpeace stands for.
Greenpeace is famous for its activists; have you been an activist?
Yes. One time in Karelia we came across an illegal logging place. We watched and then followed the timber trucks all the way to Finland. They were supplying some very big companies there, which had no idea they were buying illegal goods. There is just not enough information available.
What it is it about logging in Russia that makes it so important?
Some companies are logging in the most valuable forests without giving any consideration to sustainability. Russia is the only country left in Europe with large virgin forest. That is why it is important that other European countries provide support for what Greenpeace is doing here – it is a global responsibility. Only 10 percent of our money comes from Russians. Karelia, Baikal – they are so beautiful, and so unique…
Do you feel at home here?
I do. I have many friends here. I did not come here, as such, to live in Moscow, but to work with Greenpeace in Russia. I even brought my dog with me from Germany!