Club Charities

Every year the AWC Bern chooses a charity proposed by a member. Throughout the year there are different charitable functions to raise funds  for this cause.

Are you interested in nominating a charity? Click here to download the Charity Proposal Form.  Submit the attached form to the AWC Bern President (gro.n1600635250rebcw1600635250a@tne1600635250diser1600635250p1600635250) and Charity Chair (gro.n1600635250rebcw1600635250a@yti1600635250rahc1600635250)


AWC Bern’s Charity 2018/2019

Trash Hero

AWC Bern now has a club charity! Trash Hero World, an environmental initiative proposed by Genevieve Schneider, was voted in by members who participated in the Thanksgiving Luncheon.

Did you know that by 2050 scientists predict there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish? Did you know that one cigarette butt can pollute up to 40 litres of water? Trash Hero is working to combat environmental degradation around the world.

Trash Hero World is a totally volunteer-based, non-profit organization with 61 active projects across 11 countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Singapore, China, USA, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic and, of course, Switzerland.

Trash Hero’s mission is to bring communities together to clean and reduce waste. It does this through its community clean-ups, educational programmes, long-term sustainability projects and public awareness campaigns.

Are you ready to become a Trash Hero? Join one of the upcoming clean-up events: We’ll also post any upcoming clean-up dates in Facts & Functions.


AWC Bern’s Charity 2017/2018

Project Title: Project Emmanuel

Project Emmanuel Group Photo

Disability is not inability!
Disabled persons in Ethiopia often live in great poverty as homeless beggars on the streets of the cities and towns, but also in remote areas. There are many reasons for walking disabilities in Ethiopia: hereditary deformities, the results of accidents (burns, injuries and infected wounds), diseases (polio, mossy foot) are the most frequent.
Prevention, such as polio vaccinations as well as basic hygiene and clean drinking water, are hardly available in remote rural areas. Mobility aids are not available, surgery and medicines are unaffordable, medical or invalidity insurance is nonexistent.
Disabled persons can often only move about on all fours, or are hidden away because they are considered a shame or embarrassment for the family or village community. They are rejected by society and their families as useless eaters and sent to beg on the streets. The disabled are frequently prohibited from attending school and job training and therefore cannot find work. As homeless beggars, they have absolutely no perspective for the future. They are exposed to harsh weather, diseases and severe abuse.
Disability is considered a curse from the gods; stigmatized in this way, many suffer contempt, social isolation, abuse and hopelessness. Suicide is frequent among the disabled in Ethiopia.

Melese Eyob Heramo, the co-founder of Project Emmanuel, was one of them. He has had two lame legs since the age of 5 due to polio. His family rejected him because he was useless for any work. He had no prospects for the future, was in a hopeless situation and thought of suicide. However, his life changed one day when he heard about the Soddo Christian Hospital (SCH). He traveled for two days, partly crawling on both knees, partly limping with wooden sticks, covering the 50 km to Soddo. At SCH, he received several free operations on his deformed legs, and learned to walk with the help of donated crutches. During his three-month stay at the hospital, his severe malnourishment was treated, he learned Amharic, the Ethiopian national language, and English. Afterwards, he found a job at the hospital, at first folding gauze. He began training as a physiotherapist and until recently worked as such at the Soddo Christian Hospital. He is now employed as the manager of Project Emmanuel.

He was very thankful to have received all of this help. But he also had a vision: to help others like him. Inspired by a visit to a successful project for the disabled in the capital of Addis, he returned to Soddo with a vision: to set up a similar aid project in Soddo also, to provide the disabled with medical assistance, workplaces and an income, thus showing them a way out of desperation, homelessness and unemployment. In 2015, he started project Emmanuel together with Dr. Rahel Röthlisberger, who had met him during a volunteer stint at the Soddo Christian Hospital. Project Emmanuel is an innovative self-help project for the disabled in Soddo, Ethiopia. It seeks to help disabled persons get off the streets, provide them with mobility aids, work, food, accommodations and/or shelter.

With Project Emmanuel, disabled people in Soddo are receiving help, and at the same time, helping others like themselves.

The project focuses on:

– providing mobility aids (crutches, wheelchairs, hand-driven bicycles (= Twikes) to the disabled. Verein Emmanuel Schweiz has set up the Benevol Fund to be able to distribute crutches and wheelchairs for free to needy disabled persons.
– orthopedic surgery for physical corrections and to improve walking ability (provided by SCH Hospital)
– transportation: motorcycle with extra seat and minitaxi Tagrow Bajaj (transportation of material and disabled persons to work and to group meetings)

School and training:
Project Emmanuel supports schooling and vocational training of disabled persons so that they can earn an income and support themselves.

– Project Emmanuel creates jobs that are suitable for disabled persons in two own workshops (one for the production of mobility aids and one for food production)
– MCA (microcredit-based income generating activities): with microcredits and training, Project Emmanuel makes it possible for disabled persons to set up own small businesses, individually or in self-help groups

Services: Project Emmanuel also repairs hospital beds and has a small shop on the Soddo Christian Hospital grounds where they sell customized mobility aids to patients.

Emergency shelters for the homeless:
Project Emmanuel provides homeless disabled persons with a secure shelter. The Emmanuel employees can also stay overnight in the workshop if it is too far or late for them to get back home.

Community, appreciation and dignity:
Disabled persons find a community, appreciation and dignity as members and employees of Project Emmanuel.

2017 Annual Report

Verein Emmanuel, Switzerland, Wynigen/BE
website: (website texts currently only in German)

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AWC Bern’s Charity 2016/2017

Project Title: Kenyan Children Help

charity Kenyan Children Help

Kenyan Children Help’s mission is to provide a chance for a quality education and a home to children from poor, rural Kenya. The organization strives to create a family environment where children from all backgrounds and religions receive basic needs and a quality education in a safe environment. The New White House Academy (the school) ensures access to quality teaching materials and sufficient teachers to educate around 300 children, many of whom are orphans due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya.

The school is managed by Annedore Biberstein, a Swiss national, who lives on site in order to ensure sound financial and operational management, ensuring that the students are fed, clothed and receive the necessary basic requirements for a good education. In the past few years, the school has seen some of the top academic scores in the whole of Kenya as well as excelled in sports, becoming the national handball champions.

Voi is a rural area in Kenya, where poverty abounds. The only source of income is small-scale farming. Inhabitants have cut all the trees down to make charcoal, causing deforestation, which is causing the region to convert from semi-desert to desert. Due to a lack of income-generating sources in the area, parents do not have money to pay state school fees and therefore education is not a priority. The school is a source of pride and income in the community, offering employment to 19 teachers and 26 non-teaching staff (gardeners, construction staff, cooks, etc.). In addition, children from all backgrounds and religions are welcome at the school. This is creating a more tolerant community in a society that is generally polarized, as all cultures are learning to live and learn together.

The organization Kenyan Children Help is run by a board of six members who contribute their time on a strictly voluntary basis so that all the money raised can go directly to the cost of running the school in Kenya.

19 well-trained teachers and 26 non-teaching staff run the boarding school. All members of the staff contribute to the basic needs of the children, including providing curriculum, sports and leisure activities. The non-teaching staff are responsible for gardening, cooking, maintenance, cleaning and operational activities. All staff live on site, contributing to the care for the children around the clock.

Since 2010 the project has been personally supported by a member of the club, who does grant applications on behalf of the project on a voluntary basis, as well as sponsors a child in the school. AWC Bern chose the project as its club charity for the 2016–2017 Club year.

The club provides financial support through regular fundraisers throughout the year such as raffles, organized events and collections. Individual members have provided financial support, grant writing for the foundation, participation in fundraising drives in Switzerland, website and marketing support.

AWC Bern’s Charity 2015/2016

Project Title: Amani Orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania.

Three proposals for the the new club charity for the 2015-2016 club year were presented at Thanksgiving and voted on. Though all of the charities were deserving, this year’s chosen charity is the Amani Orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania. The orphanage was started in 2009 by a minister and his wife and now has over 40 children, ages 3-12. Students live on the property and now go to school.

The orphanage is a registered 501c3 and is looking for sponsorship for specific, large-scale projects, or for donations for day-to-day activities, such as food, water, etc.  As a club, we have an opportunity to help children earn an education, help with medical issues, help with construction of additional facilities, and provide general care.  For more information visit 
The dream basket raffle at the Thanksgiving luncheon was a huge success! We raised about 300 CHF to be split between our newly chosen charity (Amani Orphanage) and the FAWCO Target Project (Free the Girls). And, not only did we support 2 great causes, 4 women were extremely lucky and went home with fantastic baskets full of wonderful American dream items. A special thank you to Shawn Watson, Kristina Held, Jeannie Wurz and Mischa Rychener for their donations.

AWC Bern’s Charity 2014/2015

Project Title: “KIDS Support Groups”
International Blue Cross

For a printable document of the project, please click here: KIDS Support Groups.

Country context

According to the Brazilian National Drug Report 2009 an estimated 12.3% of the adult urban population in Brazil suffers from dependence on alcohol, making alcohol misuse a significant public health issue. Blue Cross Brazil is providing treatment and aftercare services mainly in the three Southern states of Santa Catarina, Paranà and Rio Grande do Sul, where alcohol and drug use is most prevalent. The organization collaborates with 12 affiliated treatment centers that employ the therapeutic community approach and provide stationary treatment to more than 1500 clients per year.

Project Summary

Neues Bild (8)Through research and experience with its clients in the Self Help Groups, the Blue Cross Brazil identified the need to create support groups for children of alcohol/drug dependent parents. These children often face exclusion, abuse and neglect and the groups give them a place to find help and ongoing support. The Blue Cross treatment cnter “Cerene” pioneered a project with KIDS Support Groups at the request of clients supported by the Blue Cross network in Southern Brazil. Further support groups for kids were created in the cities of São Bento do Sul and Rio Negrinho (State of Santa Catarina) in 2012. Due to their success, the Blue Cross Brazil has developed a set of guidelines for the formation of KIDS Support Groups, including weekly activities for use in the sessions, and began training group leaders in order to expand the program.

Project Objective

Crianças GA KIDS Blumenau BolaChildren are vulnerable when their parents drink. KIDS Support Groups promote a place for welcoming and orientation for children affected by their parents’ substance abuse as strategy of prevention and assistance to people in circumstances of social vulnerability and of hazard. Through targeted training of KIDS Group leaders/facilitators, the Blue Cross Brazil is expanding its successful program of Self Help to reach beyond the substance abusers and provide much needed care for family members. This project gives children who are affected by their parents’ substance abuse a place to turn, a forum in which they can discuss their parents’ addiction and how it impacts their life. The groups are used as prevention strategy too. Children who come from families where one or more parent abuses drugs/alcohol are 10 times more likely to fall into the same pattern. The groups help these children to realize that nothing is wrong with them – their parents’ addiction is not their fault.

Target Group

The target group is children between the ages of 4 and 11 from participating families that have been affected directly or indirectly by the drug use, abuse or dependence of their parents or caregivers. Children whose family members do not participate in the Blue Cross Self Help groups are also welcome participants.

Proposed Results

  • Over 60 children (average of 6 children per meeting)  receive weekly support and are assisted to develop coping strategies that allow for a positive development of their personality and prevent addictive behavior in the future (more than 130 children in the second year)
  • Over 50 parents are strengthened in their ability to raise their kids in a drug-free environment and by utilizing positive parenting strategies, through the participation in Blue Cross self-help groups for adults and through individual assistance by group leaders (over 120 parents in the second year)
  • All in all over 30 families receive direct support (66 families in the second year)
  • The Blue Cross Brazil “Support Group” project team has in-depth knowledge in the accompaniment and support of “KIDS Support Groups”


  • Train 50 group leaders per year to establish and expand  KIDS Support Groups in each of the three proposed states (Santa Catarina, Paranà and Rio Grande do Sul)
  • Establish 22 new KIDS Support Groups in three different states by the end of 2015
  • Produce and print a professional handbook for KIDS Support Group leaders
  • Blue Cross coordinator accompanies the leaders of new KIDS Support Groups through regular coaching as well as participation in meetings
  • Group leaders organize regular home visits/work with parents

 Project Duration

The initial pilot phase began in 2013 with the establishment of 2 groups. The main project implementation phase is 2014 – 2015.

Proposed Budget

This project is co-financed in 2015 by the Foundation Solidarity Third World (Solidarität Dritte Welt – SDW). Requests have been made to the following Foundations for additional Funding: Herrod Foundation, Global Giving.

For a printable document of the project, please click here: KIDS Support Groups

Please also visit our project page on Global Giving and our video about Blue Cross Brazil


Presenting this Year’s Club Charity 2013/2014

Hope for Haiti’s Kids

Haitibild1At the Thanksgiving Luncheon on November 28, Hope for Haitis Kids had much to be thankful for: the organization was voted AWC Bern’s club charity for 2013-2014.
Claudia Mariani gave a short presentation about her involvement in the organization, which began shortly after the earthquake in 2010. She and her husband, together with their Canadian-Swiss friend and project founder, Sylvia Hegi, have helped to build and run a school 70 km outside of Port au Prince, L’École Arc en Ciel, with the help of a grant from a Valaiser children’s aid foundation.
After beginning with a smaller school of 50 students in a rented house, HfHK opened this larger school last September, which provides free education and two meals a day to 180 students who otherwise would have no access to a school. And there is room to grow. Donations are always needed to help meet the rising costs of food and to sustain a vital gardening project, efforts to find an on-site water source and support for emergency medical needs.
More information can be found at Or contact our Charity Coordinator.
Claudia wishes to express her heartfelt thanks to AWC members and to the luncheon organizers, who made the selection possible. She is looking forward to seeing all of you at the annual fundraiser in May!

 F&F Dec 2013 Issue I