The volunteers represent an essential part of our work and who we are. They support our fundraising efforts and contribute to informing the public about child rights. Their help in improving the lives of thousands of children around the world is invaluable.
"My contribution is a drop in an ocean of distress, but I know that that drop changes the lives of many children in need. I joined Terre des hommes to fight for more justice and dignity for those children, who are so vulnerable and yet exploited so mercilessly. It is a righteous cause and I encourage you to join it with conviction, responsibility and compassion.
At Terre des hommes, each child we help has a face, a name, a history and a family. They are not just a piece of paper in a pile. Our work is a commitment, based on respect, from one human being to another. I have seen this for myself on visits to Bangladesh and India."
“In October 2016 I took part in a Terre des hommes volunteer trip to Albania. I wanted to get an impression of how and where donations generated in Switzerland are used and what impact they have.
What shocked me is the fact that in a country so close to us geographically – which is an EU candidate – things like child labour and human trafficking are part of everyday life. At the same time I was amazed that once there these things were barely given a second glance. Everything appeared to us to be quite normal.
We could have a look at concrete projects of Terre des hommes: It touched me to hear about the life stories of the beneficiary families and to witness the engagement with which the local Tdh-workers do their job. The conversations with different people gave me the opportunity to experience the country and its culture at first hand.
These annual volunteer trips provide a unique opportunity to observe the world from a different perspective. They also enable participants to get to know lots of interesting people – both people from the project country as well as fellow travellers. This trip gave me a huge boost of motivation and strengthened how I relate to Terre des hommes. I would recommend this kind of trip to everyone!”
"I value my lifestyle here, but I do this in the knowledge that not everybody everywhere is so lucky. Our standard of living gives us the possibility not only of considering our own needs but also of doing something for others less well placed.
I do not want simply to close my eyes. I know that Terre des hommes has a lot of experience, and has completed useful and enduring projects and campaigns. It is more effective for the individual to help as part of an organisation than to make solo attempts."
"I give a small amount of my time to contribute to an enormous collective task: helping children in need and their families and entourage. I usually do one or two hours a week, it varies. Maybe a hundred hours a year. It's a little and a lot at the same time. It's not a huge effort for me, but for Tdh, it’s vital.
The Tdh volunteer network also creates friendships that are formed out of a common desire to take action. The nicest moments are those spent in the street, meeting the residents of our cities and towns, and taking part in preparation evenings. There is a great atmosphere even when there's a lot to be done, and it's satisfying to see our work lead to real actions. Being able to see the result, that's what motivates me. So thank you to all the young (and not so young!) volunteers who continue to join us to make all the 'we shoulds' a reality, instead of putting the haunting images they see in the media to the back of their minds."
The Council of the Foundation is made up of representatives of volunteer networks as well as specialists in humanitarian work, public health, finance, law, marketing and economics.
The Executive Board's role is to oversee the organisation of the Foundation. It is also responsible for monitoring ongoing activities, administration, use of the Foundation's resources, risk management and regulation.
After growing up in Italy, studying law in German-speaking Switzerland and spending time in the United Kingdom, I decided to be a lawyer in Geneva. I am involved in all kinds of cases, and appear before the national and arbitration courts. I often look after creditors and debtors in difficulty.
Outside the business world, it seemed natural for me to make a modest contribution to the humanitarian sector. I wanted to share my knowlege and time with those who needed it most, showing my solidarity with them. This is why I have made my services available to the Tdh foundation for the past 15 years. I am honoured to have presided the foundation's Council for the past several years.
For many years I directly witnessed what words like protect, reassure, care, ease, soothe and aid meant to children in difficult and sometimes appalling situations. Tdh’s presence at turning points in these young people’s lives is a key factor in them being able to build trust in a fragile existence.
This trust is an essential step in building or rebuilding a decent life and social awareness. This process requires a lot of heart, commitment and courage, but also methods, professionalism and wide coverage to directly benefit children, their parents and their entourages.
My life has been shaped by the knowledge I have gained of others through traveling (ARTOU), working in humanitarian management and finance (SDC and Swiss Solidarity) and managing media organisations (radio stations and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation), as well as my role as a father and grandfather. This has given me the distance, faith and trust necessary to believe in the meaning, knowledge, knowhow and actions of my colleagues at Tdh.
The people at Tdh are professional and committed to what they do – and they have been since the beginning. It was this extraordinary realisation that fascinated me when I began working for the foundation as an advisor. It was also this realisation that led me to join the Council, and which gives me confidence in the future of our organisation. I am convinced that Tdh has a long path ahead of it.
As the founding partner of a consulting agency specialising in public institutions and Swiss NGOs, I put my professional experience to use on the Executive Board. I am also proud to support Tdh’s reinforced presence in German-speaking Switzerland, where the foundation has great potential.
As the President of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Lausanne Federal Institute of Technology or EPFL), I think it is important to support non-governmental organisations that improve daily life for other human beings on this planet. However, it is as a qualified doctor and citizen that I sit on the Council. It is in this capacity that Tdh’s two main areas of expertise, child health and child protection, concern me.
When students finish their studies and begin their careers, I tell them to “dare”. That also means “dare to change the world.” Because I believe that each person has the ability to change things for the better. This is another reason I support Tdh’s activities.
Defending the most vulnerable children is about dignity and action. This is why Tdh exists. We put all our strength and knowledge towards ensuring that these children obtain better living conditions and respect for their rights on a long-term basis.
I am honoured to be part of the Executive Board. Its priorities and values correspond with my own. I am a social worker, trade unionist and Member of Parliament. I was the State Councillor for Public Instruction, Culture and Sport in the Geneva Canton between 2003 and 2013. I am currently the Chairman of the Pro Helvetia foundation and a lecturer at Geneva’s Haute École de travail social (graduate school of social work).
I work alongside Tdh's professionals and volunteers to protect children and support the application of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This helps me further my commitments. It is a duty, a desire and a privilege!
As a doctor, I have worked with Tdh since 2003, when I joined Tdh Neuchâtel's volunteer group committee. Over the past 11 years I have held different positions, including the position of president, which I left in May 2014. During this period, I organised and participated in many fundraising activities, which I used to raise awareness of the children's issues defended by Tdh.
I have travelled to visit projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Each site visit was an opportunity to share what I had learned back in Switzerland and to maintain motivation. In November 2013, I was honoured to be elected to the Tdh Lausanne Council and, in April 2014, to Tdh Valais. A few months later, I joined the foundation's Executive Board.
These roles allow me to support the cause of children, to put my long experience working with volunteers to good use, and to orient projects based on site visits and my awareness as a doctor.
I hold a Master’s Degree in Economics from Zurich University. I am a chartered accountant and a chartered financial analyst. I am currently the Operations Director at a global private asset management company based in Zurich.
I am married with two young sons. My commitment to Tdh is a one small way I can help make the world a better place and contribute to the two things that count most for me: our future and our children.
Four different paths led me to Tdh and its many areas of activity. When I was a teenager, I had a Tdh “sister” – an Algerian girl who had travelled to Switzerland to be operated for scoliosis and lived for a year with our family.
Then, as a young paediatric doctor on the wards at the Children’s Hospital in Geneva, I looked after children that Tdh had sent to Switzerland for heart surgery.
Later on, I worked with the Groupe de Protection de l’Enfant (child protection group), dealing with the issues of child abuse, negligence and the rights of children at home and abroad.
Lastly, I ran a consultation for teenagers in Geneva, which led to my interest in juvenile justice.
Since the start of my career, I have put time aside for volunteer activities that served the public interest. For 25 years, I chaired my canton’s largest non-profit organisation supporting disabled people, before becoming a member of the Federal Council. After leaving the Federal Council, I accepted Tdh’s offer to preside the foundation’s Council. I admire Tdh for the quality of its commitments, its professionalism, and its rigorous management of the funds it receives. With Tdh, the fate of the weakest of the weak – children – is in good hands.
After studying law and graduating with an MBA from IMD, I worked for 35 years in different industrial organisations in the USA and Switzerland. I held management positions in marketing, sales, services and communications.
In 2008, I created a foundation to help one of India’s most underprivileged groups, the Adivasis. We currently support over 1,500 women and children through different education, health and micro-economic programmes.
I am interested in Tdh because of its pioneering work with disadvantaged (or troubled) children, teenagers and their parents in emerging countries.
I want to give a voice to children around the world. This is what motivates me as a lawyer, and what led me to become involved in Tdh’s activities. These activities foster, protect and care for life in its early stages, so today’s children become tomorrow’s emancipated citizens. As a mediator, I see the commitment of my colleagues at Tdh as evidence that humans are capable of including and opening themselves to others.
I joined the Tdh Council in 2006 as a member of the audit committee. I wanted to experience life inside a humanitarian organisation by making my financial and accounting knowledge available to the Council. In 2008, I joined the Executive Board in order to play a greater role in the organisation’s management. I am now in regular contact with the financial department and auditors.
During these years, delegation visits have allowed me to witness the high standard and importance of our colleagues’ work in the field, often in extreme and dangerous situations. I have been impressed by their unfailing motivation and commitment to supporting destitute children and their families. This has in turn given me even more reason to invest in Tdh.
I am currently the director of a company that specialises in management training. I have spent most of my career working in communications (written, spoken and visual). This has allowed me to meet many people who have strengthened my humanist view of the world.
What happens on this planet concerns me. For this reason, I refuse to give up in the face of selfishness, cynicism, indifference, intolerance and violence, which I have all too often witnessed in different countries and different fields. I have long contributed to causes that work towards politically “libertarian”, social or humanitarian goals. The focus of these causes has often been the weak, fragile, destitute and defenceless. I feel I have a duty to put my modest abilities and my energy to good use for children here and abroad – they are our future.
My commitment to Tdh was a natural step – I had already worked with the foundation for 20 years, caring for children with heart problems sent by the foundation to Switzerland, and helping my team at Vaud University Hospital to operate on children in Senegal.
But Tdh is much more than this. It is involved in many mutual aid initiatives. Some are long-term activities, for example those in the educational field. Others are one-off, such as programmes for destitute populations suffering in the aftermath of natural disasters.
I now know Tdh well. It is like a family of people who are enthusiastic, committed to a rare cause and able to pull off the most impressive exploits. The invitation to join the organisation in 2013 was an exceptional honour for me.
In Switzerland and around the world, children are vulnerable and at risk of abuse. They must be protected as much as possible. This is the main reason I chose to specialise in paediatric medicine. In addition to working at Lausanne University Hospital, since 1983 I have also taken part in many emergency humanitarian operations run by the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SDC-FDFA) in response to major disasters. When I retired in 2008, I wanted to continue my humanitarian activities supporting children in developing countries. For this reason, I offered my services to Tdh. I joined the medical group and, as a health resource person, I take part in many overseas missions. I have also actively participated in the development of nutritional programmes and activities in the fields of emergencies and humanitarian crises.
As a former judge for minors, I evaluated several of Tdh’s juvenile justice projects and programmes. Later, when I became a member of the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child, I realised how much impact the organisation had in the field. Generally it operated in very vulnerable countries where humanitarian aid, protection activities and support for children were characterised by difficulties in accessing sites and politico-administrative hurdles. Despite this, Tdh was a benchmark – and sometimes the last NGO still operating.
I have a deep respect for the work this organisation has performed for such a long time. I also have a deep respect for the people who work there, who seek to create a better existence for thousands of children, to include children in decision-making processes and to support these children’s families.
It was not a difficult decision to become one of the people who contribute their time and skills to the foundation’s Executive Board, playing their part in this joint effort.
Meet the management team that leads our staff in Lausanne, Zurich - and in more than 30 countries around the world.
My career has been guided by a desire to not be indifferent to distress, suffering or injustice, wherever they may arise.
I spent several years in the Sahel developing village water systems, discovering in the process one of the world’s poorest regions, where survival is all too often at stake, especially for children. I also took part in emergency operations for people displaced following violent conflict, witnessing other examples of extremely precarious situations.
After 15 years in Switzerland’s social assistance field, I decided to return to the humanitarian sector and work to help children. Because when a child faces violence, exploitation or abandonment, all of humanity has failed. Tdh works to protect children around the world. I am proud to help it achieve its goals.
“Involved in humanitarian action since 1999, I have coordinated operations and managed human resources in around fifteen countries, predominantly in Africa and Asia, but also in Switzerland where I live with my family since 2008.
These experiences have convinced me of the importance of developing effective and coherent human resources management, which is adapted to the mission of an organisation and respectful of its values and the commitment of its workers.
It is the employees, volunteers and partners of Terre des hommes who act and make our work possible, both at the headquarters and in the field. The main objectives of Terre des hommes´ Human Resources Department are supporting, equipping and training our diverse team, at the same time as guaranteeing good management practices.
I enjoy cooking, playing music, sailing and by force of circumstances I have become a bit of a mountaineer (all of these as an amateur). I have been very happy to play my part here at the Foundation since joining at the end of 2016.”
“My involvement in humanitarian work comes from a childhood spent in several West African countries. Upon completing my studies in Eastern Languages and Cultures, and then Political Science, I wanted to give something back to the continent that provided me with so much as a child.
In 2007 I joined Terre des hommes, working in camps for displaced persons in the Darfur region of Sudan. I then worked as Head of the Foundation´s Emergency Operations until my appointment as Director of the Humanitarian Aid Department in October 2016.
My career at Terre des hommes has been full of wonderful experiences and discoveries. Here I have found values that are important to me including courage, ambition, respect and a strong commitment to working for children. This is a cause that is particularly close to my heart.”
“I grew up in Meyrin, a satellite city of Geneva. Aged 19 and motivated by a strong desire to discover the world, I took my backpack and travelled alone to Latin America. I lived with a family in a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Fortaleza, Brazil and helped with the running of a crèche.
There I learned about poverty and violence. However, I also found joy and hope thanks to the connections I made with some wonderful, strong women. Despite the challenges of poverty and the injustices these women suffered, they were able to create real change. That neighbourhood is now a renowned centre of economic and social innovation in Brazil!
This life-altering experience would influence me on both a private and professional level, and from it I´ve maintained a firm conviction: if we have self-confidence and faith in an ideal, together with the principle of solidarity and a good understanding of our environment, we can move mountains.
This conviction drives my work here at Terre des hommes, and it also guided me when I worked for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, as President of the Project Commissions at Swiss Solidarity, and as Child Delegate at Onex.”
“The war in Sarajevo sparked my interest in this field. I have worked with the same passion for the past 20 years, inspired by exceptional individuals and moved by human suffering. I joined Terre des hommes in 2000, holding different positions in the Balkans, Egypt and West Africa, before joining the Management Team four years ago.
I am very proud to contribute to Terre des hommes´ mission: upholding children´s rights, protecting them from abuse and the consequences of humanitarian disasters, and building their capacity to help change society. The importance of our work has become even clearer to me since becoming a father to two children.
I firmly believe in the need to build a fairer society which is more respectful of human rights. My current mission at Terre des hommes aims to increase the impact of our programmes by enhancing the relevance and quality of our work.”
“Ever since my university education in Italy and Belgium, I have been fortunate to meet many inspirational people who have influenced my career choices within the NGO sector.
Different professional missions in both development and humanitarian contexts strengthened my belief in the essential role of non-governmental organisations, as the most vulnerable people are often neglected by the international community. I maintained this conviction during my years at the headquarters of an international federation working in the field of disability.
As a father, I am particularly enthusiastic about continuing my career here at Terre des hommes. Our mission to protect children is vital in a world which is sometimes too unjust and violent, but which nevertheless deserves all our efforts to contribute to humanity.”
“The challenge of finding another way to contribute to society led me to Tdh. After 15 years as a member of an executive committee in the private sector, I wanted to give some meaning to my existence and use my professional experience for the benefit of underprivileged children.
Joining the Foundation has been wonderful! My daily work allows me to combine both the richness of human relations and the sharing of strong values such as courage, respect and commitment.
We are currently rolling out our 2030 vision, opening up the field of possibilities. I am delighted to be a part of this organisation and to be able to actively participate in this change.”
As the daughter of humanitarian activists, I witnessed injustice and suffering from a very young age. I always knew that I could never accept the established order, and that I wanted to play a role in improving it. After studying law, I completed two field missions in North Africa and Eastern Europe and took part in several Tdh programmes. In 2008, I joined the communications team. I have been the team director since 2011. I have been a member of the extended management team since 2014. Currently I am the Director of Communications and Fundraising.
Everyone at Terre des hommes is committed to making the greatest possible, positive impact on the lives of the world's children. We would like you to meet…
for Eastern Europe
Before I joined Terre des hommes (Tdh) in 2009, I had been working to protect children against sexual exploitation for almost ten years. I had previously come into contact with Tdh during a campaign in Madagascar and was impressed by what I saw. When the Foundation first started working there, it didn’t try to go it alone. It drew on the experience of other organisations present in the country and sought to work with various bodies. I believe that the key to successfully protecting children depends on everyone’s involvement so this approach appealed to me.
Tdh is a courageous and innovative organisation that endeavours to keep abreast of children’s actual needs and to work as closely as possible with those on the ground despite being the largest organisation of its kind in Switzerland.
I grew up in Moldova in a challenging social and economic environment, which persists to this day. I know the hardships children face, so I feel I can’t just stand by and do nothing.
I always wanted to contribute to the improvement of children’s lives, but it wasn’t before I joined Terre des hommes (Tdh) that I engaged professionally in the field of child protection. I brought my diverse background into the wonderful Tdh team in Moldova – I had studied economics and management, travelled to several different countries as a student and worked as a PR manager in the music industry.
I’m really grateful to be part of such a dedicated a team; it is both inspiring and motivating. My work allows me to be creative and to apply my skills, while having a positive impact on the lives of children and their families.
I started working for Terre des hommes (Tdh) in May 2009 as part of a project to protect children living and working in mines and quarries. Everyone told me I was crazy, that a woman shouldn’t be working in a such a rough environment full of degenerates. To tell the truth, I was pretty apprehensive on my first day. It was the first time I had been to a traditional gold mine. I rode about 100km through the bush by myself, but when I got there I immediately understood Tdh’s cause. The children were living in terrible conditions and many of them were fending for themselves. I saw 5-year-old children playing alongside their mothers. They were covered in dust and could easily have come into contact with the toxic products being used by the adults.
With the Tdh team, we set up a “bissongo” (a community day nursery) so that the children would have somewhere safe to play while their parents were at work. A week later, a fire broke out causing a lot of damage. Fortunately, no children were harmed as they were all at the nursery, away from the mine.
Soon afterwards, a large group of miners came to Tdh’s office to thank us for helping to save their children. I felt extremely happy and proud that our efforts to protect the children were paying off.
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