Becoming active in the face of hopelessness

  25.03.2022 Local News

Isobel Hyde, mother of a student at the John F. Kennedy International School, and her partner could no longer simply watch what was happening in Eastern Europe.

Clear goal
"Because we have more than enough of everything here in Switzerland, I asked for support in a fundraising campaign at the school, from other parents, friends and also from various shops in Saanenland," the young mother described the start of the campaign. People were asked to fill parcels or backpacks for girls and boys of different ages. And they didn't need to be told twice.

While one shop delivered brand new children's underwear, private households parted with toys and clothes. "When you see that people barely have time to decide what will fit in their luggage before fleeing their homes, it explains why many arrive at refugee shelters with little or nothing" says Hyde clearly dismayed, but very determined. "With the aim of getting to safety alive, many are on foot. There's just enough energy to take along children and old people, but not suitcases or luggage."

The backpacks can be used to help children, but also families and grandparents. Even if only for the moment. The students at the John F. Kennedy International School energetically helped pack the goods, including former possessions of their own. Some of the children went even further and donated all their pocket money.

Seeing where the aid goes
Hyde's partner is associated with the order of Malta, an international aid organisation. It was he, accompanied by a colleague, who set off for the Ukrainian-Polish border. The journey took 15 hours, interrupted by a short overnight stop. In preparing the aid delivery, they were assisted by a Polish-born woman who now lives in Switzerland and is a friend of Hyde. "She translated all sorts of wording that might be needed on such a trip into Polish and gave it to the drivers."

The aid team used some of the money donations to buy fresh food locally. "In Poland, the supermarkets are normally stocked, but most people lack the money to shop there," Hyde said. Shelf-stable food, medical items and baby food were already loaded onto the van in Switzerland.

Hyde finds it difficult and of no help to show war images to the students. "With the footage from the shelters, on the other hand, they see that people are safe but have nothing left. And then, I believe, every child starts to think."

It continues
This was only the start of a comprehensive fundraising campaign, Isobel Hyde is determined. She wants to organise another transport and approach the people in Saanenland.

Based on AvS/Jenny Sterchi

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