Reaching out: Swiss chapter founder Esther Banziger on her group’s mission

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The Swiss Chapter of JDVSF has donated nearly CHF 80,000 (USD 84,648 K) to Saint Martin de Porres over the last six years. The enormous contribution is thanks to chapter founder Esther Banziger’s initiative, hard work and dedication. Here, Esther, whose son is Board member Hugo Banziger, shares her hopes for the foundation.

Esther, what inspired you to start the Swiss chapter?
EB: Several years ago I was invited by the Salvador family to participate in a medical mission to the Philippines. I joined United States doctors who brought medicine and care to children and families. For the first time in my life, I saw children who were too weak to stand on their own feet and I wanted to do something to help.

Please describe the chapter.
EB: We are a small group of around 45 members. Our members are happy to donate money because they know that every Swiss Franc is handed over to the foundation and we all work voluntarily. Our trips to the Philippines are paid for by us personally. Hugo threw me a party for my 75th birthday recently and many of the guests donated to the charity in lieu of gifts – we made CHF 8,000 (USD 8,486 K) for SMDP!

You attended the inauguration of the Girls’ Village earlier this month. Why was the event so meaningful to you?
EB: I felt strongly that we needed to protect growing girls from making choices that could challenge their future success. I talked with Hugo about this and with the help of Rev. Edith Rey Kühntopf, Swiss chapter vice president, we did everything possible to convince the foundation of the importance of creating two girls cottages.

It makes me so happy that now our girls have a better place to learn and support each other. They can fully concentrate on their education and growing into wonderful young women.

What are your hopes and dreams for these girls?
EB: I hope that all of these children will be able to heal their souls, learn as much as possible and thrive as adults. I also hope that they will be willing to help others