As foreigners in Switzerland we take seriously our commitment to the local community in which we live. We work on a weekly basis with Cartons du Coeur, under the watchful eye of Mme Monney who has supported them for many years. Girls help to pack boxes for the ‘invisible poor’ and deliver them to safe and unidentifiable collection points. Once a year a Surval ‘team’ turns out on a Saturday to help with the major collection of goods and money donated by local stores and shoppers.
A more recent addition to our programme is L’ Étape, an ecumenical organisation which runs a food kitchen on a weekly basis for the poorest and most neglected in the community. Local stores give their unwanted food at the end of the day, and volunteers help to prepare and serve the visitors.
The elderly people at the Byron home are delighted to have regular weekly visits from the International Year students, who join them to try out new recipes, paint, play games and generally provide warm companionship to those who may often be extremely lonely. We continue to look for more opportunities to work with children but in Switzerland such opportunities are very difficult to access.
We are establishing links with Habitat for Humanity so that International Year and other students can spend 10 days helping to build homes for those families whose houses have been destroyed by natural disasters or war. We prefer to work with a company year on year so that we can build up links with a local community and start to make a real difference, rather than being ‘charity tourists’.
Surval Student Volunteering