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15.05.2014 - News

Interview with Sandra Boner

Sandra Boner, from weather forecasts on Swiss television to the largest Swiss children’s charity – how did this happen?

Even as a girl scout in Solothurn 30 years ago, I collected donations for a Terre des homes (Tdh) project in Burkina Faso. I subsequently supported the volunteer group in Zurich for three years until, after being asked by Tdh, I decided to become involved with the charity as an ambassador for German-speaking Switzerland. As a mother of two healthy children, it is important to me that as many children in the world as possible should have a secure future.

With the trip to Morocco in March, you visited a Terre des hommes field project for the first time. What was waiting for you there?

In Morocco, we visited a project in which Terre des hommes (Tdh) has been providing special treatment for seriously ill children, mostly with heart problems, since the mid 1960s, treating them in Morocco, if possible, otherwise elsewhere in Europe. We even witnessed the project close-up on the outward flight to Casablanca: Yousra, a five year old girl, who, thanks to Tdh, underwent heart surgery in Switzerland, was returning home with us to her family after 3 months. The little girl’s laughing and the moment when she could once again hug her family were very moving. Amina Smimine, the deputy head of Tdh Morocco, really impressed me. The commitment and perseverance of this former nurse, who has been working for the children’s charity for 30 years, seem simply limitless. Amina takes to the difficult task of listening patiently to parents, trying to find a solution. This high level of commitment has left a lasting impression on me.

Thanks to the specialised care programme from Terre des hommes, seriously ill children, for whom help does not exist in their native country, can be treated in Europe. For the children, it is a life-saver but also a trip to a strange country in which they will spend many months without their family. As a mother, what kind of feelings does that trigger in you?

Of course, as a mother, the idea of sending your child alone to a foreign country is painful for me, and quite honestly, I do not know whether I could do it. It is a very difficult decision to make, where you have to be aware of all the risks and dangers involved. But for many families in these countries, this often represents the last if not the only chance to save their child’s life. Even Terre des hommes has to make decisions as budgets simply do not make it possible to send every child in need to Europe. Amina Simimine and her team do not only take into account the medical circumstances but also the social situation. It is very important that, after surgery, the child can return to a healthy and stable environment where follow-up care is assured and reintegration, such as going back to school, will succeed.

What have you personally gained form this trip?

This trip has shown me that I should count myself lucky that my children and I can grow up and live in Switzerland. But I have also seen what incredible commitment lies behind Terre des hommes and just how much dedication is needed for such a project. I have got to know a respectable organisation which efficiently uses the money where it is needed. The visit has encouraged me to continue to campaign for the needy children of this world and through my commitment to Terre des hommes, I am proud to be able to make a small contribution.