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Charity Begins at Home?
(originally published in the October 2009 issue of Expat In Switzerland)

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We are all (naturally) going about our daily business, part of which is striving to maintain a comfortable lifestyle and ensure the welfare of those nearest and dearest to us; and what’s more we are lucky enough to be doing this in a very wealthy country. With the recent dreadful news of the two earthquakes in Indonesia and the disaster Typhoon Ketsana has caused in Vietnam and the Philippines it struck me that the resulting campaigns from Swiss charities, very much present in the Swiss media, may not reach the English speaking world in Switzerland. The organisation Swiss Solidarity (Glückskette in German/Chaîne du Bonheur in French) for example organised a national “Asia” fund raising day to benefit the victims of these latest natural disasters on Friday 9th October. But donations can be made online at any time and paying-in slips are available at all post offices. More information under www.Swiss-solidarity.org

As an expat with 27 years in Switzerland under my belt when I think of large charities in Switzerland, Swiss Solidarity and Caritas Switzerland spring automatically to mind but there are of course hundreds of other charities out there both large and small. It is not my aim with this article to plead for donations but simply to supply a starting point for those of you interested in finding out about charity organizations in Switzerland.

On a much smaller scale my experience of daily life in Switzerland is that the Swiss do tend to very much look after themselves and don’t appear to be very charitable when it comes to kindness (sorry, a terrible generalisation I know). Just yesterday a friend was telling me that she had just witnessed a heavily pregnant woman with a toddler and a trolley full of shopping in tow drop her parking ticket on the way back to her car, my friend wasn’t the only person to witness this, but she was the only one to pick up the parking ticket and bother to run after the lady in order to save her the distress of getting to the barrier and not be able to get out of the shopping centre. A very small example I know, but an example of a small kindness that we all perhaps find missing from time to time. It really doesn’t cost anything…

Another form of giving is starting to show itself at the studio this month – people are already starting to talk about Christmas and the giving of presents. Too early? Not really when you consider the preparation from photo shooting to mounted photo ready to be gifted wrapped and placed under the tree. But definitely still too early to see all the tinsel and baubles appearing in the shops. More on that next time perhaps…

Linda Atschreiter Linda is a regular contributor to the ExpatInCH.com newsletter and runs the Foto eMotion photographic studio in Zug. See www.foto-emotion.ch for more information.

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