... In my new position it became quickly clear that I couldn’t defend something that I was not convinced about. Each one of us has its own conscience that one should follow. Judging and criticizing doesn't make grow anyone. Therefore, I left that company 6 months later. During that time, I had witnessed a reality that was completely contradictory (in good and bad) from where I came from. The most flagrant atrocity was the everyday reality for the children. I met many people who talked about change, but very few who ever seemed to accomplish. Lots of talking, tons of paperwork and I finally found myself saying, “Stop talking, start acting!”
Eventually, I did manage to quit my job and wrote up a proposal for a Children’s Home that I then submitted to the Mozambican government. It would have been accepted; the only issue was that I did not have an organization to back me up nor a work contract to support my intent. It was only me and my good will. “Well, let’s do it” I decided. I went back to Switzerland, sold all my belongings, set up the non-profit organization called ASEM (ASsociation en faveur de l’Enfance Mozambicaine), and 3 months later I was back in Beira, ready to begin. During the following years, we set up two Children Homes in Beira, one in Gorongoza and one in Vilankulo, together with an amazing, professional local staff. As an African proverb says: “Alone you go fast – together we go far!”
I used to spend about 4 hours a day interacting with the children at the Homes, psychological support and being a Mom, 2 hours a day getting around in the streets to help resolving problems related to the children living out there, 4 hours a day taking care of my own children and 7 to 10 hours for administration, fundraising and resolving daily issues. Yes, your calculation is right! 365 days a year between 15 and 23 hours per day for over 10 years.
Today, I am supported by (in part) the same amazing local team that started with, on the ground in Beira, Gorongoza and Vilankulo, which allows me to currently focus on:
· Psychological support to children and young adults.
· On the job training of staff members.
· Supervising of the financial management and general development of all ASEMs'.
· Building up micro-economic structures in Mozambique together with our team to assure
future economic self-sufficiency for ASEM Mozambique and its beneficiaries.
· Operating Public Relation
Going to the Gallery is away for you to "walk a part of my 30 plus years African path"
In January 2001 I contracted malaria falciparum. For more than one month I was in a coma in a hospital in Johannesburg (dialysis, artificial respiration, etc.). My kidneys and liver functioned at only 3%, and my lungs at 1%.
I survived this terrible disease and recovered miraculously at 100% and never forgot my "Near Death" experience.
Documentary by Andrea Canetta on Swiss TV (RTSI)