Dear VSP associates, I would like to spend some time to talk about Edmondo Schmidt, from Freidberg, who sadly left us in December 2016.
Edmondo and I met in 1996, as I was nearing retirement, when an old friend of mine and associate of ours, Gianni De Luca, suggested I get in touch with engineer Schmidt. It was felt that he might be able to help me find an interesting and gratifying activity to dedicate my retirement to. I followed Gianni’s advice, met with Schmidt and found out we had many friends and interests in common. He told me about VSP, and I submitted my application to join, which was granted in March 1997 by our then President, Domenico Boschin.
In the beginning, while I was waiting to be sent out on a mission, Edmondo asked me to help him manage the relationship between senior associations (basically VSP and Seniores Italia), United Nations Volunteers and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who at the time controlled and financed our missions.
Through VSP, I went on 3 missions for MAE (Summer-Autumn 1997 and Autumn 1998) to supervise administrative and political elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were run OSCE. The first time, Edmondo and I went together, whereas the last two I was by myself. They were very interesting experiences, it was a pleasure to be involved. Edmondo and I took the opportunity to go visit Split, Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian coast.
Between 1998 and 1999, Edmondo slowly made me responsible for handling all missions to Albania and, subsequently, Kosovo. A few years earlier, during one of his first missions in Albania, Edmondo had acquainted himself with Luan Pustina, who had worked for the Albanian Treasury during Hoxha’s communist regime.
Edmondo asked Pustina to collaborate with him, by finding businesses or governmental organisations who could use the help of VSP’s experts. Luan accepted, and for many years was essentially VSP’s representative in Albania, allowing us to run missions in many different sectors. All in all, in this Century’s first decade we ended up organizing around twenty missions thanks to him.
Those could be defined as VSP’s golden years, considering we had a lot less missions in the rest of the world. I can certainly tell you that our experts’ work was always very highly valued by its beneficiaries, the only problem being, not through any fault of our own, we were often unable to carry out follow-ups once our missions had finished.
Little by little, Edmondo moved behind-the-scenes and left me in charge of mission organization in Albania and Kosovo and of maintaining our international relationships. It was quite an intense job, which I certainly could not have carried out without the support of VSP’s Turin office. In particular, I have to mention Mario Manetti who did a fantastic job of searching for volunteers/experts throughout all of Italy to fulfill the projects Pustina was bringing to us.
Meanwhile, my friendship with Edmondo had strengthened and we started frequenting each other even outside of our professional environment. Now he has left us and I have lost a true friend. He was quite an extraordinary person. I cannot remember any other people who had centered with such certainty around a few fundamental convictions, above all Faith. As well as family, patriotism, respect for tradition, love for nature and mountains. He hated compromise. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I saw him, perhaps in an old-fashioned way, as a true gentleman.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our associates