The Bongas: making volunteering a family affair
For the Bonga family, volunteering is a way of life. Suellen, Jan and their three children – Katia, Leah and Liam – are committed to working with Terre des hommes (Tdh). According to them, “It’s like a hobby.” We travelled to Nyon to meet this exceptional family.
The five members of the Bonga family have taken part in more events than they can count: the Nyon triathlon, 20 editions of the Marche de l’Espoir (Walk of Hope), and countless sales for Tdh. Despite their busy schedules, they always have time to defend a cause they hold dear: helping children. “Our family is healthy; we have an obligation to help those who aren’t,” says Suellen, who supports sick children transferred to Switzerland for surgery as part of Tdh’s specialised care programme. Katia, Leah and Liam began helping out when they were small: “They came with us to run stands and invited their friends along,” says Jan.
Passing on values
When Liam was a boy, he struck up a friendship with a patient at La Maison de Massongex. “As we were leaving, he asked if his friend could come and stay with us. It was one of those magical meetings of two completely different worlds,” remembers Suellen. “When Leah and Katia were 6 or 7, they went door-to-door fundraising for Tdh. Afterwards, I found out that they had picked flowers from our neighbour’s garden and sold them!” Now adults, they work alongside their parents in committees organising events for Tdh.
Discovering other ways of life
For Suellen, volunteering is a way of discovering other ways of life. “It’s a cliché to say that giving is better than receiving, but it’s the truth.” Jan also sees it as a social activity: “We meet people with the same outlook on life.”
Keeping the flame alive in 2017
“It’s becoming more difficult to find people who are willing to commit,” says Jan. Katia disagrees: “I know a lot of young people who are getting involved.” Regardless, they do share one conviction – the value now placed on volunteering. “Before, volunteering wasn’t really recognised. Today, it’s seen in a really positive light, and it can even be an advantage in the workplace.”
On the photo, from left to right: Liam, Suellen, Leah, Jan and Katia.