Tdh is 60 years old!
The year 2020 marks the 60th anniversary of Terre des hommes (Tdh). But who was its founder, this person who was appalled by the situation of children in regroupment camps during the Algerian war and why did he create Tdh?
November 1959, Edmond Kaiser reads the French journal ‘Réforme’: “Wretched Algeria - Who in the north of the Mediterranean knew that …children there are dying of hunger, and that in many of the camps, the average ration, counted in calories, was a quarter or a third of what we call the subsistence minimum?”
Edmond Kaiser, the soon-to-be founder of Terre des hommes, is outraged at the misery of the 1.2 million people living in deplorable conditions in the camps of Algeria. Inspired by Saint-Exupéry’s book about collective responsibility called ‘Terre des hommes’, he is convinced that, from the moment you know that there are people in need, you have an obligation to do something about it.
Summer 1960: As a way of providing immediate assistance to Algerian children, Edmond Kaiser works with the French association Cimade to bring around 100 Algerian children living in a refugee camp in Marseille to Switzerland for a holiday camp. Based on this experience, he creates Terre des hommes on 22nd July 1960 as a movement to provide immediate and direct assistance to children in need. He explains later on that Tdh “was not born out of any religious, political and philosophical imperative, but rather grew from a simple concern for humanity with the aim of rescuing the unhappy Algerian children in France or Algeria in the most thorough and quickest way possible.”
Kaiser's vision was to help children in need through pure action. It was never a question of good charity or a good conscience, but a right of children that had to be restored. This objective is outlined in our charter: "As long as one child remains hungry, sick, abandoned, in misery or in pain, whoever and wherever s/he may be, the movement Terre des hommes, created for this reason, will pledge itself to the child’s immediate and complete rescue."
60 years after its creation, the mission of Terre des hommes remains the same. In an unstable global environment, we continually adapt our working methods and are equally committed to the protection of children and the defence of their rights throughout the world.
Terre des hommes is celebrating its 60th birthday this year. Follow our news each month to learn more about key moments of Tdh’s history!
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In an interview with RTS on 13th February 1968, on his return from Vietnam, Edmond Kaiser declared: “[...] we would no longer have the right to call ourselves humans or responsible adults if we allow ourselves to become complicit and deliberately decide to do nothing, despite being aware of this infinite pain.”
While an increasing number of children now live in better conditions, several million of them still need support and protection. To mark our 60th anniversary, we launched a campaign on MyTdh, our online fundraising platform. The aim is to collect 60,000 francs in one year. We can do it together, thanks to your generosity and loyal commitment!
Join our “Child Fund” campaign now by using your network and support our programmes for helping children around the world. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!
Photo source: the originals are held by the Archives cantonales vaudoises, Fonds ACV PP 1053, Terre des hommes Foundation.