Lukas WANK, the director of Shabka, was thinking a lot about how to engage people in critical thinking. He worked as a conflict analyst, a political advisor, a civil engineer, a kitchen hand, a soldier and a graphic designer. He has a lot of experience and ideas, especially in the field of security, and he says that a leader is always listening to him or herself and never hide who he or she is in reality. 

Fellows of the European Leadership Program had an extraordinary opportunity to talk, to ask questions and share stories with the director of Shabka. 

At the end of the discussion we had possibility to share stories within the group. These stories that remain in our hearts, they will determine who we are in the present and who we will be in the future. 

In 2012, four ambitious students had an ambitious dream to set out to bridge the gap between conventional journalism, academia and political activism. In the same year they started networking with young journalists and academics and created Shabka which deals with foreign security, security and development, crisis management and civil society management.

Think & Do

Shabka is a strategic Think & Do tank, which is thinking about the necessary changes and taking steps to involve the people in the thinking and doing process. One of the main aims of the organization is to engage the public, because the issues are coming from them; the level of society that knows better what their desires are and and how they want to fulfill them. This bottom-up thinking means that the first target group is at the grass-roots, those who are really facing the challenges in everyday life and the solutions coming from them. To understand the problems of the people is important, but experts have to be there as well. Shabka has experts who deal mainly with security issues. Since they go close to the bottom, they can realize the main problem, while their knowledge can suggest techniques to come up with a solution. When we have the opportunity to go to the bottom we should do so as it is also a good opportunity to see the world from another perspective.  

Involving civil society in the decision-making is one of the most crucial elements in problem solving, since giving voice to the people makes the relationship more direct and understandable. Civil societies are emerging from different cultures. At times communication is challenging because different views, whose end-point is the same, are coming together. In the meantime, however, different approaches and techniques are required to implement their goals. For the majority of the time we are focusing on long-term goals while the short-term ones are missing since we are not aware of the main consequences. To understand these goals cooperation can be quite productive between the organisation and the civil society. Communication is one means that can be used by both parties to come closer to each other and toward achieving their common goals. 

Network system where voices are heard

Shabka, an Arabic word, means network; thus the main target within society is to establish a strong relationships where people can work together and their voices can be heard. Due to the new technologies the world is changing day-by-day.  So as to familiarize society with these changes, Shabka offers room to think about the developments surrounding the people, to exchange views and create new solutions to implement change. Meeting people occurs in different ways such as: direct conversation, polls organized workshops. Workshops, in particular, are places where we can come together to discuss the topics in which we are interested and, in which all the participants are on the same level. As was mentioned before, engaging people is the main aim of the organization and with these tools it can be reached in a way which is acceptable to both civil society and Shabka. 

Mr. Wank emphasized that Shabka is his family. Shabka is a family where there are disputes from time to time, but it works as a network. If someone is missing then it does not function in the same way as previously. Listening to each other is part of getting to the bottom where voices are sometimes hidden but the from which may come the real solution. If you are in a community and have the opportunity to make something permanent for yourself or your society, you can lead to a world that is a better place in which to live. 

The discussion with Lukas Wank gave us a lot in the personal and professional field. Many times both fields are connected to each other. The personal may lead us to those values which can be found later on in our professional lives and thus influence our decision making as well. 

By Sándor Neubauer
ELP Fellow

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