Vice-President – ToHelp Schweiz
For Christian Altmann (Vice President of ToHelp Switzerland), his involvement in ToHelp was his first, more serious type of contribution to charity. In start contrast to his professional role, which focuses on increasing the private wealth of individuals, Christian wanted to turn his focus on the visible financial gaps, which permeate across the developing world. With a desire to address these inequalities, Christian explains that he moved from an arm length approach towards something more concrete. He elaborates: ‘I wanted to be part of something where all of the donations are actually making their way to projects… without one cent going to admin‘. This particular quality seems to be quite unique to ToHelp, which is adamant in ensuring that donations do not cover the costs of administrative tasks. Instead, it is the trustees who ‘share the expenses of the admin from their own pockets‘.
When reflecting on some of the specific projects he has been a part of, Christian recalls his most recent trip to Tanzania ‘The children know you are coming back, they realise there is a more long term relationship‘ and ‘You see the children that have developed and grown up‘. In regards to the orphanage project, Christian touches on his specific desire to push for a greater focus on girls in Tanzania. As he explains: ‘In Tanzania, there are less girls than boys in orphanages because girls are kept in families as house workers‘, which leads Christian to pose a difficult question ‘What is better, to be a street kid or to be exploited?‘ It seems that the desire to place greater emphasis on supporting girls is a shared value maintained by Christian’s wife, Amarilys Abaraeu, who is recognised as a key driver of ToHelp Switzerland. Additionally, Christian touches on the further expansion of the Charity ‘A good friend is now in the process of incorporating ToHelp in Germany, his daughter along with her friend went to the Orphanage to volunteer‘. This has also led to further support, as Christian acknowledges ‘The trip won over another family and they are excited to help with their friends and establish a third leg‘.
Reflecting on one of the most memorable moments whilst working on the orphanage project, Christian recalls a touching moment when he was reunited with a child he met during his last visit. ‘I told one of the kid’s that surely I recognised them, and they changed, they didn’t want to let go of my hand… they felt appreciated and recognised‘. This singular moment made Christian appreciate that the work of the charity is not about the numbers, but about the people who are genuinely touched by their work. Expanding on the reception of the work of ToHelp in the local communities, Christian recollects ‘Once I talked to a teacher and he said it is very appreciated that you come and talk to use, it feels like someone cares‘. Beyond showing consideration for the people, ToHelp has also supported the local charity managed by the Monk, which has gone from ‘A shack and no land, to having proper infrastructure, two dormitories, a hall, a library and a kitchen‘ in the last seven years. The establishment of proper infrastructure isn’t the only contribution made by ToHelp as Christian explains ‘I think the lasting impact is to come, because we will help the children with their education and potentially help individuals go to university… the infrastructure is the beginning of the journey’.
For Christian, the future of ToHelp continues to promise further opportunities for support where it is crucially needed. Exploring some of these future ventures, Christian informs ‘We have bought larger land, close to the orphanage; this year we want to start collecting money to build a house for elderly people‘. The introduction of an elderly home located near the orphanage is a purposeful decision, designed to bring together the older generation with the newer generation and foster interdependency. As well as this, Christian is passionate about supporting educational opportunities for disadvantaged children. He is currently pursing an investment in the Kiokit, a wireless digital device which offers various educational programmes, designed for children in rural environments. This is yet another endeavour which promises to lead to further support where it is crucially needed, and adds to the growing list of accolades that ToHelp is accumulating through its dedicated work and firstname.lastname@example.org