Swiss philanthropy: generosity isn't just a popular concept in Switzerland. Last year, Swiss residents backed up their convictions by donating some SFr 700 million to charity. Swiss News spoke with three Swiss-based charities to learn more about the services they provide, their inceptions and how they are organised.

Author:Mirza, Faryal
Position:SEASONAL FEATURE
 
FREE EXCERPT

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Three charities. Three causes. One goal: helping those who are less fortunate.

Island Kids Philippines is just over a year old but has already helped nearly 20 children escape the streets. Rainbows4 children is more than a decade old, and provides young Ethiopians with an education. BioVision, also a veteran on the charity scene, supports ecological development in Africa.

Island Kids Philippines

Thomas Kellenberger, a Bern policeman, travelled to the Philippines last year for a month of fun in the sun, diving and sightseeing. However, appalled by the poverty he saw, the 26-year-old abandoned his vacation plans and instead made a vow to help give poor children in Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao--specifically those working on a rubbish site--the chance for a better future.

"I knew that it was a poor country before I went, but while I was there I got really emotional," he says, recalling his first visit to the island nation. Kellenberger describes seeing children rummaging through the waste, and collecting recyclable items, which they could sell to a middleman.

The plan to set up a charity as a vehicle to help the children was hatched when Kellenberger was introduced to a local woman, who agreed to help him run the foundation in the Philippines and foster four young girls he had met. And thus, Island Kids Philippines was born.

Kellenberger established Island Kids Philippines as a registered charity in the Philippines. In Switzerland, he set up an association, or Verein, for the purpose of fundraising.

He adds that, in Switzerland, this was a simple way of kick-starting the foundation into life. "It took just one day to do the paperwork," Kellenberger says.

Registering Island Kids Philippines as a charity in the Philippines, on the other hand, was much more difficult.

The process, onerous and hobbled by bureaucracy, required the services of a lawyer, multiple inspections of the foster mother by local authorities and a payment of one million pesos (approximately SFr 24,000) into a closed account, and took months to complete.

Kellenberger explains that the way in which the foundation was established means that 100 per cent of funds raised go towards helping the children.

The young policeman also uses his own salary to finance his charitable activities.

"If the foundation needs stamps, then I go out and buy them with my own money. I am not going to use the foundation's funds," he stresses.

All seven 'employees' are...

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR TRIAL