From child beneficiaries to agents of change
60 years of defending children's rights
This exhibition, which has been visible from 1 to 31 October 2020 on Quai Wilson in Geneva retraces 60 years of Terre des Hommes and Terre des Hommes Suisse’s defence of children’s rights.
It is a tremendous encouragement in view of the progress made since the beginning and a wonderful message of hope from children and young people, who have become actors of change today and tomorrow.
60 years of engagement in images
The last 60 years of Terre des Hommes Suisse’s existence have been marked by a number of events and milestones.
From the creation of the movement in 1960 to the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2019, and the achievement of ZEWO certification, come back with us to the key dates that have shaped the current organisation of Terre des Hommes Suisse.
Click on the image on the left to zoom in on the content.
1960, Terre des hommes was born
1960. One man, Edmond Kaiser, is deeply appalled by the plight of children who are victims of poverty and conflict, seriously ill or injured, and who cannot be treated in their own countries. He then decides to establish, with a few friends an association dedicated to “direct aid to suffering children, with no political, racial or religious concerns” : Terre des Hommes was born. What animated the founder was not the spirit of “charity”, but rather that of justice.
Funds were raised through appeals in the media, the organization of concerts, street sales of oranges, fairs and so on. Thanks also to the voluntary work of doctors, surgeons, nurses and the free access to hospitals, it was possible to bring in and treat many children, first from the Maghreb region, then from other countries of the South, soon followed by children mutilated during the Vietnam War.
The first steps
In Geneva, volunteers get together to found a Geneva chapter of Terre des Hommes to respond to requests from dispensaries, especially in Africa, where there is a particular shortage of pharmaceutical products. Doctors organised collections of medicines, which were sorted according to the needs expressed and dispatched. They made it possible to save lives.
In 1978 the Geneva association hired its first Secretary General and extended its action to more countries. In Basel, a Terre des Hommes association, which was as dynamic as in Geneva, made it possible to create Terre des Hommes Suisse between the French and German-speaking parts of Switzerland.
LEARN, EVOLVE, SHARE, RESPECT
Terre des Hommes Suisse gradually developed strong partnerships with local associations, directly involved in the field for the defence of children’s rights.
Today, Terre des Hommes Suisse works with more than 60 local partner organisations in 10 countries. They fight to obtain in their region, in their country, adapted and quality education, protection against violence and exploitation, and their participation, for more than 200’000 children and young people.
LEARN – EVOLVE – SHARE – RESPECT – this is what the former volunteers, some of whom are still active, have learned throughout their years with Terre des Hommes Suisse. The world is changing but working for the respect of children’s rights is becoming more and more essential.
Jutta, 30 years of voluntary work “These years of voluntary work have given me a lot of satisfaction because I have been busy doing something useful for children in need, in a pleasant setting and with people who are ready to give their all”.
A complementary action, here and there
Throughout its 60 years of evolution, Terre des Hommes Suisse has worked, in a coherent and complementary way, in Latin America, West Africa, the Caribbean and Asia, as well as in Switzerland, for children and a solidarity-based development :
– By promoting in all its actions, the rights of children to education, protection and participation.
– By supporting local associations in their commitments, their capacity for action and decision making.
– By raising children’s awareness in schools in Geneva, in Switzerland, and internationally about children’s rights and sustainable development.
– By valuing volunteering as a concrete commitment and an anchorage in society.
– By encouraging children and young people to become agents of change.
To this day, children are still victims of violence and exploitation.
1 billion children are victims of violence or neglect every year.
This violence affects all countries, all social categories, and all places, from home to the street, from school to the fields. Children from marginalized groups, from families living in extreme poverty are even more at risk. Girls are often the first victims of such violence. Every year 12 million girls are forcibly married.
Nearly 152 million children worldwide are deprived of their childhood because they are forced to work.
Sources : UNICEF, World Health Organization
Terre des Hommes Suisse wants to prevent violence and exploitation and to build a protective environment for children and young people.
- Protective environment: relatives are committed to protecting children and young people.
- Protection between peers: children and young people become actors in their own protection.
- Care and support services: children who are victims of violence receive appropriate support.
TERRE DES HOMMES SUISSE FIGHTS AGAINST VIOLENCE
In India, 40 million children are forced to work. Terre des Hommes Suisse, together with local partner associations, enables children to have access to an education despite the vulnerability of their families. Young girls are better protected against forced marriages and can continue their studies to build a better future.
YOUNG PEOPLE FIGHT FOR THEIR OWN PROTECTION
Even today, access to education is not guaranteed for all.
In 2020, according to Unesco, more than 260 million children and young people are out of school and 6 out of 10 children still do not acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills after several years of study.
Poverty, marginalization of the most vulnerable groups and repeated crises mean that children do not always finish the full cycle and drop out of school. This is especially true for young girls, who are victims of many forms of discrimination.
Education is a fundamental right, which must be provided without discrimination.
The quality of education must be guaranteed to enable the acquisition of knowledge necessary to provide children with prospects for the future. Through its actions, Terre des Hommes Suisse enables the most vulnerable and marginalized children and young people to have access to quality education.
85,000children and young people* have access to educational opportunities
*Source : Terre des Hommes Suisse Annual Report 2019
CHILDREN FROM POOR FAMILIES ARE TOO OFTEN EXPLOITED AND DENIED ACCESS TO SCHOOL
In Haiti, Terre des Hommes Suisse enables children traditionally entrusted as domestic workers to go to school.
In addition to free access to school, these children receive meals, which are essential to ensure they get sufficient and good quality food. Their education includes the programme “I have the right to know my rights!” in order to better protect the children.
Teachers have been trained in the use of participatory, playful and child rights-friendly pedagogies to provide these children with an education that will lead to a better future.
40'000 CHILDREN IN SWITZERLAND ARE SENSITIZED EVERY YEAR
For almost 30 years, Terre des Hommes Suisse has been running a programme of education for solidarity and sustainable development throughout Switzerland.
Through animations based on the reality of children’s lives elsewhere and on everyday problems in Switzerland, children discover their rights and reflect on inequalities in the world. They are invited to take action, at their own level, to build a just and sustainable world.
Participate and fight for your rights
Terre des Hommes Suisse contributes to the training of children and young people as agents of change in the promotion of their rights and in particular that of participating in the construction of a more sustainable and inclusive world. In this way, they can contribute more actively to the defence of children’s rights, here and there.
“Being a committed young person means above all really understanding what our role is in society. Whether we are women or men, black or white, whatever our class position, we must develop an attitude of empathy towards other people. For me, this means mobilizing organized groups in communities, in families, by helping them to further identify the actions needed to change their living conditions in a sustainable way and to involve other young people to defend children’s rights. In all these actions, we must set an example, inspire and act.” Luciana, a young girl from Brazil (pseudonym)
the International Youth Council of Terre des Hommes Suisse
Launched in 2018, the International Youth Council of Terre des Hommes Suisse brings together 16 young people aged 15 to 25 elected by their peers in Latin America, India, Africa and Switzerland.
As actors committed to the defence of children’s rights in the field, they are integrated into the governance of Terre des Hommes Suisse at the local and international level. The young people of the Council share their experiences, educate themselves and carry the voices of children and young people in their countries and before international bodies.
Last November, they were in Geneva to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Convinced of the role they have to play as global citizens, several young university and high school students in Geneva have created a network of “young emissaries”. Their goals? To raise awareness of children’s rights among their peers in schools and inspire others to get involved.
THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL DEFENDS CHILDREN'S RIGHTS AT THE UN
CHILDREN'S RIGHTS AT THE END OF THE LENS
With a camera on their shoulder, a lens or microphone in their hand, a pen, pencils or a keyboard at their fingertips, more than 1,200 Child Reporters from Switzerland, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Mali, Colombia, India, Peru and Senegal have created 165 reports on their vision of children’s rights.
These children and young people were strongly mobilized around this project of the Association 30 Ans de Droits de l’Enfant which gave them the opportunity to express themselves. The children’s reports were widely shared locally in each of the countries on the occasion of the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the Convention. In Switzerland, four exhibitions, which were seen by more than 20,000 people, showcased these productions.
Acting here and there - Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic is a universal crisis but one that does not affect everyone in the same way. Its consequences have a disproportionate impact on populations that are already the most fragile, especially children.
1 billion of children* in schools worldwide are affected by the temporary closure of schools.Unfortunately, this situation could also mark the end of access to education for the most vulnerable among them, due to poverty and the risks of violence and exploitation that accompany this pandemic.
*Source: United Nations
Protection and education during Covid-19
Terre des Hommes Suisse is mobilising to protect children from the Covid-19 pandemic, to encourage them to stay in school, to protect them from exploitation and to reduce the risk of violence during confinement.
These actions are carried out with the participation of young people. For example, raising awareness about protective behaviors is done by young people for other young people.
“I will protect myself rst to set an example and respect barrier gestures. Then, I’m going to raise awareness so that people understand the disease. Here, many people are convinced that the disease is not as it is presented.” Ashmita, involved in the Covid-19 awareness campaign (pseudonym)
Awareness-raising on Children's Rights
In Switzerland, with the temporary closure of schools, children were cut off from their schooling. In April, Terre des Hommes Suisse launched a digital awareness campaign on children’s rights and sustainable development, aimed at young people.
Interactive modules and fun activities are available for families and teachers.
“By doing the module on child labour, I discovered how things are for children in Burkina Faso. Then I was able to discuss it with my mother and brothers. The DIY activities at the end teach us a lot about children’s rights!” Thomas, Geneva, 11 years old.
Interested in these online modules ? You can find them here (in French only).
60 years of promoting children's rights, thanks to you!
Many thanks to the children and young people, to our local partners, our volunteers and donors, our sponsors and to all the friends of Terre des Hommes Suisse.
Together today and tomorrow
Together, hand in hand with the children and young people of today and tomorrow, let’s build a sustainable world respectful of children’s rights.