60 ans au cœur de l’enfance
60 years at the heart of childhood
“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. Having determinedly sought out the child, Terre des hommes will come to her/his aid in the way which responds most closely to her/his distress.” Edmond Kaiser, from the Founding Charter, 1960.
Aware of the dire situation of children in refugee camps during the Algerian War in 1960, Edmond Kaiser founded Terre des hommes in Lausanne on 22nd July of the same year.
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.
Protecting children is in our DNA
When Edmond Kaiser organised the arrival of the first convoy of children from Algeria to Switzerland in February 1961, he was moved both with a feeling of injustice and the need to protect and care for these child victims of the war. Sixty years later, this same commitment still unites our 1700 staff. In Switzerland and in the field, they come together for one single purpose: the improvement of the well-being and living conditions of the most vulnerable children.
Children are the first victims of wars and natural disasters. They must be able to find refuge and safety among adults and, indirectly, from organisations of mutual assistance such as our own. Faced with the various trauma that they experience, they require both benevolent attention from adults and affection, and from professionals who take care of them psychologically. As they sometimes find themselves trapped in dangerous or risky situations, they simply need someone to hold out their hand to them.
In 60 years, our programmes have both specialised and become broader to cover new areas such as juvenile justice and digital health. From protection to health and humanitarian crises, we currently support more than 4 million children and their families.
Chronic crises in an unstable environment
For several years now, humanitarian aid has become more complicated particularly in war zones. Humanitarian crises last longer and civils are more and more targets. Our teams in the field are confronted with challenges such as the emergence of new armed groups, systematic violations of international law and the difficulties involved with reaching the affected populations.
Multiple factors come into play. In certain countries, such as Mali or Burkina Faso, families and children -usually separated or unaccompanied -, are fleeing not just the violence of war but also the threat of terrorist organisations, leaving behind an economic situation without job prospects and land that is no longer able to be cultivated because of war or extreme drought.
When assisting such people, we act over the long term, not only in an emergency. We continually renew our approaches and adapt our activities to suit the context and its development.
We make families and communities the agents of change in their own destinies and involve children in our programmes. Finally, we strengthen child protection systems by working closely with local authorities and stakeholders.
Faced with current and future challenges, we rely more and more on the development of new technologies. The digital age provides us with innovative tools. For example, internet connection and social media allow us to support children and young people on their migratory routes by informing them of the dangers on the road and at their destination or even by providing them with an online banking service. Artificial Intelligence meanwhile opens up a huge range of possibilities particularly in the field of healthcare.
IeDA - A digital solution to save childrens' lives
IeDA strengthens primary health care in rural areas in West Africa through innovation: a mobile application on digital tablets improves children’s medical treatment thanks to a better diagnosis.
Gravit’eau: washing your hands with recycled water
Tdh and partners have developed the idea of a mobile hand-washing station which uses an automatic water recycling system to deal with water shortages in crisis situations.
Join our “Child Fund” campaign
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: © Tdh. The originals of the archive photos are kept in the Archives cantonales vaudoises, Fonds ACV PP 1053, Terre des hommes Foundation.