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Life Links

Long live Life Links!

The next year will bring a lot of new beginnings, but before that we need to end something: a big "something" that is Life Links. Time to say goodbye - and thank you.

Striking, mind-changing, eye-opening: We've told many of your stories. But today we have to tell a sad one: We won't be able to tell your stories anymore - Life Links will be discontinued at the end of 2015 due to budget restraints.

It's time to say goodbye, but also to say thank you.

THANK YOU to everyone for watching, reading and sharing our stories, thereby making Life Links one of Deutsche Welle's most successful multimedia magazines. Thank you for writing some of the first comments in the DW cosmos.

THANK YOU for trusting us to tell your stories and for producing DW's first user generated content.

We'd like to thank DW and the Federal Foreign Office for giving us this opportunity and #DW30 for shaping ideas.

THANK YOU to the colleagues who supported us - without you Life Links would not be where it is today.

THANK YOU to the colleagues who challenged us and thanks to the critics who did not believe in us -- you made us grow stronger and better.

THANK YOU to the video editors, sound engineers, speakers, camera operators, editors, writers and reporters YOU ARE UNIQUE AND AMAZING.

Life Links is what it is thanks to the team that created it.

Mathias Stamm (senior producer) & Gianna Grün (senior online editor)

For the last time, we - the Life Links team - share our realities, our Life Links moments, that made this time unforgettable for us.

Our programme may be discontinued, but the life links we made will remain.

Life Links is dead - long live Life Links!

The naked truth
by David Levitz, Life Links reporter

Nothing about making Life Links was easy. What made the show possible were 1) the most dedicated colleagues I have ever worked with and 2) the openness of the people whose stories we told. Beyond the stresses and the privileges of making the show, I will never forget my (mis)adventures with Immanuel, one of our camera people. When you watch our Israel report from #lovelinks, you won't see how I got us lost on a highway in the dark at a separation wall (which later featured in Yalda's West Bank report) – or for #climatechange, how I managed to get us locked out of a sauna in Arctic Sweden, naked in the snow. (No, there aren't any pictures.)

by Carolina Machhaus, Life Links Reporter

"Läuft bei euch?", was a text message I always received while shooting the first day for a new Life Links story. "Läuft bei euch?" means, "everything all right, guys?" in German slang and those were the few words our producer Mathias used to find out if everything was going well. And yes, over the last year everything was more than alright. Working for Life Links made 2015 a very special year. It was a pleasure to meet all these young and strong people who shared their stories and lives with us. I'm grateful for so many moments - spending three days in prison, having tea in a yurt, calling brothels and writing (kind of) funny work emails with sex as a subject. It was great to work like hell, to sometimes burst in desperation or happiness because again something turned out completely different than we had imagined. And it was more than amazing to work in this beautiful team. We traveled the world, met inspiring people, captured their stories. But most of all, we built something like home in our small office in the middle of Berlin and linked our lives to the people we met. #tobecontinued #lifelinksforever #läuftbeiuns

An important (essential) part of my life...
by Yalda Zarbakhch, Life Links reporter

...that's what lifelinks had become to me. Well, you might think, 'now she's overstating a little: it's been only one-and-a-half years of her entire life!' Well, you're right, and that's what makes it even more sad. You all know how it is: When you fall in love, breaking up is
always a pain (in the ass), no matter how short the relationship. It's the intensity that matters. And damn, working as a reporter for Life Links, was more than intense. When asked to write down my Life Links moment, I can only say: Mission Impossible, as there are too many to pick out one.

Starting off with the very first episode #WhoAmI, where the the inspiring Kayeon Lee, taught me about the life of a North Korean defector in South Korea. And closing with the exciting story of neo-Nazi drop out Felix for the very last episode #prideandprejudice.
Diving into their lives and connecting them to other young people's life stories all over the world, was a very enriching and heartmoving experience. There are no words to describe just how special it was to be part of this awesome team of wonderful, very talented, crazy, lovely, and unique bunch of people. It is so rare to come across and I am so sad, that it's been taken away: the chance to continue working together as a team and tell more of these great stories of interesting and inspiring people #lifelinksstyle. #lifelinksforlife is what we used to say...well, not anymore, but we'll keep it in our minds for life! #Iloveyouguys #Bestteamever #makesmecrywritingthisdown

Determination and strength
by Jan Bruck, Life Links reporter

The most memorable moment from my Life Links reporting was when I harvested coca with 19-year-old Gilda on her family's plantation. Gilda, her dad and her grandma were all picking leaves at sundown against the backdrop of the beautiful Andes mountains – Gilda's baby nephew was lying between the plants wrapped in a blanket. Four generations working together: being there with them just made me realize how important coca farming is for Gilda's family and the people of Bolivia. Gilda and I sat down on a little rock in the field and while I interviewed her, she picked up a leaf, held it to the sun light and said, "This leaf is nothing bad in itself, what people make of it is bad. They tarnish our tradition." I was very impressed by this 19-year-old girl with such a strong sense of right and wrong in the world and a determination to do everything for her family.

Different people, but the same feelings
by Gönna Ketels, Life Links reporter

Are you serious? Asking me to single out one moment?! I could talk about all of the amazing places I have seen, the moments that made me think, "This will only happen to you once in a lifetime!" I could talk about falling in the mud in the middle of a ship breaking yard in Bangladesh, being surrounded by and escaping a gang of robbers in Nairobi, taking an outdoor shower under the sparkling night sky in Kiribati, swimming illegally in hot springs in a secret location, playing the post-it job guessing game and having endless Tetris marathons with Robert on long distance flights or feeling lost in translation doing vox pops in Taipei.

But the real Life Links moments for me were those that moved my heart – sitting on the floor in Alamgir's hut in Chittagong when he told me how sad he felt that he didn't know how to play because he had worked from such a young age, seeing Jean-Claude's mother Beata in Rwanda break out in tears talking about the way she had mistreated her son, listening to Antonia in Sweden reading out her ‘life list' that kept her going when she was almost dying from anorexia. My Life Links moment is the whole thing, this journey that has taught me for real what Life Links always claimed: We may all be different and face different challenges, but we have the same feelings no matter where and how we live.

You can always stand under my Tinderella
by #FrauSchmitt, online writer

"Hey Caroline, what are you doing in January?" I'm forever grateful for these few words that set the tone for this year - and for many Life Links moments. Like this one: After a rather rough summer and worries that felt too big to handle myself, I was crying my eyes out in front of Herr Stamm and Frau Grün (also lovingly referred to as parents). When they said they would help me move my furniture across the whole country and started throwing other solutions at me, I realised that I hadn't and probably won't be alone for a while. Not the last of many #FrauSchmitt-bursts-into-tears moments. By the way, you'll all be invited to my wedding (#GoodbyeTinderella) and I want confetti everywhere. ❤

Awash with insanity
by Louise Osborne, online editor

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" - that was the Life Links office. From the tears of stress shed over difficult edits and the feeling of being close to defeat after a crazily long day to the elation when getting that one much-needed interviewee on the phone at the last minute or the amazing energy as the team gets together. It's impossible to pin it down to one particular moment, the office was always awash with insanity. But what has kept me going through everything has been the amazing people I've had the good fortune to work with over the past year and the friends I know I'll keep in the years to come.

Out of the comfort zone
by Gianna Grün, senior online editor

DW Life Links - Moment Gianna

*Please note: that drawing does not refer to the development of my body circumference over time ;)

Can you laugh about an "IS" fighter? When we interviewed one, I could not only follow his argument, but also had to laugh at his dark sarcasm - that gave my perception of how dangerous "IS" is a whole new dimension. But the question 'can you…?' remains. Life Links is unique for me due to moments like these: when stories, situations or colleagues challenge you to go beyond your boundaries and make you leave your comfort zone. Along that line, there was the time I had to call up our team telling them our magazine will be discontinued - even at the end Life Links was at its best.

When your heart gets broken - and it all starts to make soooo much sense!
by Mathias Stamm, senior producer

The moment I FELT what a jewel we were just starting to create was in the editing room where I met Gilda for the first time. It was two weeks before we - Tadah! - launched Life Links. Gilda was one of the people we met in our webisode #drugtrap. Reporter Jan was done editing - or thought so ;-) - and after reviewing his first edited version, I was struck by Gilda's humbleness and strength. What a privilege to meet her, I thought. What a privilege that we can report on people like her.

Of course, I knew that Life Links was a special project by that point. We had already been working for months to create the website and the first documentaries. We had already produced our first episode #WhoAmI and a pilot that later became #blamemyparents. But when I met Gilda something clicked. And that click has stayed with me for a year now. We covered many more stories that touched my soul and broke my heart. They made all the long hours, all the obstacles worthwhile.

Sure, I'll miss this enthusiastic bunch of a team that created Life Links. But thinking of all the stories we could have told in the future… That's what makes me crack.

I appreciate that you are impressed
by Fabian von der Mark, Head of Life Links

It's really impossible to find one moment. Was it the moment when the website went live? When the first episode was presented at a Berlin cinema? Was it the first time a user sent us a text they had written themselves? Or the first time a story brought me to tears? All of these moments prepared me for one particular day in Italy. I was invited to the International Journalism Festival in Perugia because of Life Links. The city was full of media professionals: start-up founders, company bosses, journalism professors and journalists from all over the world. Actually, a really hard bunch of people to impress. And I had the feeling right in the middle: we have to make sure we don't get hidden here!

It's fun to talk about Life Links, to explain what we were thinking and above all to show others what it looks like. After my presentation, there was a moment that only I was able to experience: start-up founders, journalism professors and journalists from all over the world came up to me to say: "That is really pioneering, good, interactive journalism." - "That looks great." - "How do you do it?" - "Can we start with you?" And I could say with conviction: "I have an amazing team."