How has your work changed due to the Corona lockdown?
It’s a simple question: during the lockdown my daily work routine changed entirely and I took on completely different tasks at Save the Children. I really appreciated the flexibility of our organization when the decision was made to stop working for us F2F people for safety reasons. The first thing we did was to start a telephone campaign in which we made thank-you calls to supporters to thank them for their valuable support and to ask how they are doing in these unusual times. Secondly, I was able to take over the production of two videos and thus support Save the Children in other ways. I enjoyed this, especially since I am artistically active and will start studying art in autumn. Thirdly, I supported the team that is working for our projects in Switzerland.
What were your specific tasks in supporting the programme work in Switzerland?
I supported the team in two specific activities. They have developed Learn- and Play Sets with creative activity ideas for children and families in asylum centres or in refugee housing structures. We printed and compiled these sets and sent them to numerous asylum centres throughout Switzerland. I also collected toys as well as writing, drawing and handicraft materials from our partners, packed them and then delivered them by car to over 50 asylum centres in German and French-speaking Switzerland. Thanks to these two actions, we were able to give children in Swiss asylum centres the opportunity to learn and play – even during the lockdown, when childcare services for children were not available due to the protection measures. I was also allowed to produce a video of this action as a documentation.
What particularly impressed you when you delivered the Lern- and Play Sets?
On my delivery tour, I was impressed by the different conditions and moods in the asylum centres and it also made me think about the situation about the people living there. The buildings and infrastructure of the centres sometimes made a very run-down impression and also locally I noticed that the asylum centres are often very remote and rarely found in residential areas. This gave me the feeling that locations are being picked according to the motto “out of sight out of mind”. The centres that were closer to residential areas and where the presence of children was visible, e.g. through drawings in the corridors or existing places to play indoors and outdoors, radiated a more positive atmosphere in my opinion. This observation has strengthened my motivation that we as Save the Children in the centres can make an important contribution to making the various accommodation facilities more child-friendly and to ensure that children have suitable play areas and safe places to retreat!
Did you have direct contact with employees or families at the handover in the asylum centres?
Often, I handled the handovers very quickly and there was little exchange. However, there were also interesting conversations. Once we were also spontaneously invited to lunch and a guided tour of an asylum centre. That was very impressive and there we also became aware of the big differences! In this centre the atmosphere was really good: the residents led it mostly by themselves and took a lot of responsibility. For example, there are wood and metal workshops and businesses, a garden where vegetables are grown and the residents even run a public café, which is really cosy with children’s pictures on the walls. This experience was impressive and for me it shows that these people are better off when they are allowed to make sure that they are doing well themselves and can also take on the responsibility for it.
I also had some touching experiences with children. In an asylum centre I met an approximately 3-year-old girl, to whom I gave a cuddly toy with the consent and presence of her parents. The girl was almost too shy to accept the toy and could almost not believe that she was allowed to keep it. It was nice to see how children can be made happy just by little contributions and awareness for them!
How have the experiences of the past weeks influenced your personal motivation for working at Save the Children?
I have been working as a dialoger in the F2F team at Save the Children for four years now and it was a personal decision for me to work for Save the Children and to commit myself to this work for the most disadvantaged children in Switzerland and worldwide. In my daily work I make passers-by in public places aware of our important national and international projects and motivate them to get involved with children as well. The experiences and alternative assignments that I was able to make during the lockdown have strengthened my personal motivation for my work – our work at Save the Children – and I am happy and even more motivated to pass on my convictions and also experiences from the Swiss projects again.