Find out more about 63 volunteer projects: Africa| Asia| Australia & New Zealand| Europe| Latin America| Middle East| North America


Fu helps children in the earthquake region Yunnan and shows them how to carry out scientific experiments. Nine Bayer employees in Bogotá, Colombia, are encouraging children in the poorest part of the city to take an interest in programming while, in Ukraine, Lyudmila brings a smile to the faces of young patients at the children’s hospital in Kharkiv.

These are just three of the more than 550 projects in 65 countries that are being supported by Bayer volunteers who want to improve the lives of people living close to the company’s international sites. The Bayer Cares Foundation helps them to run their charitable initiatives with funding of up to EUR 5,000 per project. This is a further expression of our company’s mission – “Bayer: Science For A Better Life.”

Find out more about how to apply for project funding.

Discover the many and varied projects that our employees are running around the world:

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  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • North America

Margie Leathers, Nigel, South Africa

Partner: Elementary school at Alrak Park, Nigel, South Africa

A book club for an elementary school in a socially deprived urban area of Nigel – that is the basis of Margie Leathers’ project. “We would like to encourage children to read, as books contain a wealth of knowledge, stimulate the imagination and broaden ideas,” she believes. “Furthermore, reading improves the rather inadequate English skills of our school students, thus helping increase the literacy rate.” Representatives of an educational foundation support the teachers in the project. “Classes of around 45 students take a lot out of the teaching staff energy-wise. They therefore train the teachers with us, read with the children themselves and bring the first books with them,” explains Leathers.

Joslyn Goliath, Nigel, South Africa

Partner: Ikhono welding school, Nigel, South Africa

Nigel is an industrial and mining town where large factories are the leading employers. Nevertheless, more than half of the 18 to 35-year-olds cannot find employment. In Joslyn Goliath’s project, young adults learn the job of welder, obtain career counseling and receive a certificate confirming the skills they have acquired. “This gives them the opportunity to start earning money as welders and to use this to finance their degree studies,” explains Goliath. “We enable young people to pursue their dreams and perhaps to become entrepreneurs themselves.”

Angie Pillay, Nigel, South Africa

Partner: Angie’s soup kitchen, Johannesburg, South Africa

In winter, Angie Pillay regularly stands in the kitchen and cooks a large pot of soup. However, this is not eaten at the Pillays’ table but taken to homeless people and street children in Gauteng, Springstown. Angie and her family take on some challenges when doing this. “We drive into town at night,” Angie Pillay explains. “That’s when it’s easier for us to find homeless people sleeping, often covered only with cardboard in sub-zero temperatures. We give them a warm meal as well as a warm blanket.” The Pillays have set themselves the goal of not only talking about the community, but also taking action on its behalf. “It takes someone to reach someone – that’s our motto,” explains Angie Pillay.

Taru Lindstedt, Turku, Finland

Partner: Nüaburi elementary school, Turku, Finland

Thanks to Taru Lindstedt’s project, a greenhouse and a henhouse are being built for an orphanage in Kendu Bay, Kenya. She does voluntary work for the international Maranatha Volunteers and has already helped with many of their initiatives in Kenya. “We built a dental clinic, a church, a hospital and a composting toilet, to name some examples,” explains Lindstedt. “Our current project particularly focuses on sustainability: young people grow vegetables and raise chickens. They can sell their produce locally, which gives them a stable source of income.”

Yolande Chellan, Isando in South Africa

Partner: Dermatology Clinic of Grey’s Hospital, Pietermaritzburg in South Africa

The “Man shall not live on bread alone” project aims to help socially disadvantaged patients who have to undertake a journey of several days for treatment in the rural hospital. “We give them food such as powdered milk, purees, bread or peanut butter to satisfy their hunger during the long waiting times,” reports Yolande. At the same time, the project workers use this timeframe to try and promote values such as motivation, discipline and solidarity for a functioning society.

Miguel Lachiver, Mondouzil in France

Partner: Association Rosalie Echange Solidarité, Saint Jean in Madagascar

The idea behind Miguel’s project is for subsistence farmers to form cooperatives comprising three families in each case, which will then share two zebus, a plow, a harrow and a weeding trowel. “This enables us to tackle underdevelopment and malnutrition in one of the poorest countries in the world,” says Lachiver. The initiative also aims to promote social cohesion and mutual support among the farmers. “Above all, however, we are trying to reduce people’s dependence on food aid and boost their sense of dignity.” Around 500 people benefit from the agricultural sharing model.

Younes Lekkrami, Mohammedia in Morocco

Partner: Association of Young Moroccan Managers, Mohammedia in Morocco

Schoolchildren with visual impairments are severely disadvantaged when it comes to learning and everyday life if their poor eyesight is not corrected. “However, families living in the country have no money for examinations or to buy spectacles,” says Younes. In coordination with the Ministry of Education and Health, 3,000 schoolchildren in 30 schools received a visit from a mobile eye caravan. “If bad eyesight is discovered, the young people receive suitable spectacles. This helps prevent the children potentially dropping out of school, and improves their learning and living situation,” says Younes. The volunteers expect to find around 300 children with impaired vision, and the costs will amount to about 20 euros per patient.

Eva Wainaina, Nairobi in Kenya

Partner: Elementary School, Eva Wainaina, Nairobi in Kenya

Three years ago, Eva and her mother donated some land, which launched an important project to construct an elementary school for orphans and children with HIV. “Without this support, they would fall into criminality and prostitution,” Eva says. “With our help, they can escape the vicious circle of poverty, illiteracy and despondency.” The current project is focusing on updating the kitchen equipment, above all. “The new gas and electric hobs not only improve the quality of the meals the 30 schoolchildren receive, but the kitchen staff can also work more efficiently and in pleasant conditions.”

Joelle Donnadieu, Mondouzil in France

Partner: The Friends of Jenny and Jessica, Antananarivo in Madagascar

Joelle’s initiative supports a neonatal clinic in Madagascar. The achievements of the project at the 160-bed clinic include providing new mattresses with replaceable covers, refurbishing toilets and installing – for the first time – showers. “By making what is, for us, a small contribution, we are giving poor people who have to live with a great deal of uncertainty access to basic medical care and a little comfort,” says Joelle, describing what makes her project special. “I think that’s hugely enriching.”

Thomas Wegmann, Singapore, Singapore

Partner: Thomas Wegmann, Singapore, Singapore

Thomas Wegmann volunteers with a soccer project at a non-state-assisted school in Myanmar. The facility’s financial situation reflects this – the institution, which is attended by around 200 poor children aged from 11 to 17, is characterized by a building constructed using bamboo, a corrugated tin roof and unpaid teachers. Thanks to the Bayer funding, the school now employs its first teachers on a fee basis. Wegmann himself had the idea of a sport project as, just like art and music, sport is not on the curriculum at Burmese schools. “However, it is hard to reach underprivileged children with traditional educational methods,” he says. “It works better with soccer. The sport also promotes the ability to work as a team, discipline and self-control, and increases wellbeing.”

Rahul Patil, Thane West, India

Partner: Shivar Sansad, Usmanabad, India

Failed harvests and the financial losses associated with this put a strain on small farmers, both economically and in terms of morale. Unfortunately, in the region of Maharashtra it is not uncommon for this to lead to suicides among farmers. Rahul Patil’s project supports the families they leave behind by providing personal counseling services. For example, children are supported through rehabilitation measures, harvest loans are granted or information given on temporarily bridging losses from crop failure. The second pillar of the project is prevention: young people from farming families are taught the right way to behave in a crisis. Here, the project initiators also focus on the multiplier effect. The participants form a network and circulate the information in their villages. Patil summarizes the special feature of the project as follows: “The methods we use are innovative as they address key needs of potential victims of the agricultural crisis.”

Willy Lee, Taichung

Partner: Hueiming work facility for the visually impaired, Taichung, Taiwan

Willy Lee gives visually impaired school students an understanding of the beauty of nature. These students can hardly participate in outdoor activities due to their limited mobility. For this reason, Willy takes them fruit harvesting. “I believe it is a great experience for blind children to put their arms around a tree, feel the earth between their fingers, or breathe in the aroma at an orchard,” he says. Each year, he grows a new variety of fruit in cooperation with the farmers’ association – now grapes are next in line following strawberries and tomatoes. “When making the selection, I ensure that the children can harvest the fruit safely and without any complex physical exertions,” Lee explains.

Satish Kumar Gadde und Saikat De, Hyderabad, India

Partner: Sarvodaya integrated rural development company, Koppal, India, and TB Alert India, Hyderabad, India

In rural India, menstrual hygiene presents a serious problem for many women. First, it is a taboo subject in society and, second, they lack the financial means to buy expensive branded sanitary napkins. “They therefore use old cloths, which is unhygienic, leads to increased infections and can subsequently even limit their ability to have children,” explains Satish Kumar Gadde. His initiative and a similar project by his Bayer colleague Saikat De focus on producing and selling cost-effective, safe, and recyclable sanitary napkins. “Besides the project itself, which enables over 10,000 girls and women in the region to switch to a modern and comfortable gynecological solution, the project has another key benefit,” Saikat reveals: “The production, distribution and user information for the pads create jobs and thus offer women an income source and real prospects.”

Joanna Liu, Shanghai, China

Partner: Children’s Hospital of Fudan University, Shanghai, China

Joanna Liu and other volunteers are implementing an unusual project to increase parents’ awareness of medical science and show them the importance of a good doctor-patient relationship: a children’s medical discovery center at a very busy Metro station in Shanghai. This is divided into a 65-square-meter mini hospital and a 60-meter-long medical lobby area. Volunteers, many of whom work at Bayer, provide interested visitors with information on the topic of children’s health. Besides the parents, the focus is also on the children themselves. “The goal of our campaigns is to take away the girls’ and boys’ fear of visiting the doctor,” explains Liu. “And perhaps we can even inspire some of them to become physicians themselves later on.” In the future, the permanently installed discovery center is to be complemented by a mobile version in order to reach even more people with information on the important topic of children’s medicine.

Cherry Tang, Beijing, China

Partner: Hongdandan, Beijing, China

Cherry Tang’s project produces audio books for blind schoolchildren. The content of the recordings focuses on the areas of science and children’s literature. What makes this project so special is that volunteers from Bayer read the texts on the acoustic versions produced by the Hongdandan NGO. The list of books was provided by the teachers. “Above all, we would like to counter the lack of educational resources for this target group,” says Cherry Tang. “We also teach the children that learning is fun.” The audio books they produce can also easily be copied for other visually impaired children.

Maria Ustyantseva, Novosibirsk, Russia

Partner: A.I. Borozdina health and education center for children, Novosibirsk, Russia

According to Maria Ustyantseva, Tomatis therapy is considered one of the most advanced rehabilitation methods for children with serious diseases of the nervous system. Pedagogical auditory training is believed to promote the ability to listen and communicate as well as help with a large number of behavioral problems and learning difficulties caused by auditory perception disorders. “The training reduces aggression, develops language skills, and actively supports social interaction,” explains Maria Ustyantseva. “Unfortunately, many parents can’t afford the therapy – we are pleased to be able to offer them this through the Bayer project because it is a small investment that will make a happy future possible for hundreds of young people.”

Yicheng Ren, Beijing, China

Partner: Chinese charitable foundation for children, Beijing, China

Yicheng Ren’s project provides interactive science lessons to over 300 visually impaired orphan children. The “Touch the Nature” course takes place regularly with 46 sessions per year and offers participants the opportunity to come into contact with their environment. “Blind orphans hardly have the chance to do that here,” says Yicheng Ren. “Through our course we would like to help them gain basic knowledge of animals, plants, the climate, geography and geology and thereby give them a more complete view of the world.” For the project initiators it is also important to improve the children’s communication skills and thus to enable them over the long term to determine the way they live their lives.

Ekatarina Uglichinina, Yekaterinburg, Russia

Partner: Childcare facility at the center for social work, families and children of the Sysertsky region, Sysert, Russia

The “Hearts” project benefits an orphanage in the Ural region. The initiators of the project are improving conditions at the facility in many ways: the building is getting a new coat of paint, the children can pursue various sports activities for the first time thanks to new equipment, and the relationships to potential adoptive and foster families are strengthened. “The goal is to open up new perspectives for the children in a different environment,” says Ekatarina Uglichinina. “We really hope that society develops a kinder stance toward orphaned children.”

Anna Sheng, Shanghai, China

Partner: Nuannuan art center for the disabled

In Anna Sheng’s project, the art center cooperates with a kindergarten for girls and boys with cerebral palsy. The program comprises 10 drawing courses per year in which the requirements steadily increase. “The children learn to appreciate colors and shapes, coordinate their fingers and hands and express their feelings through observations and touch – these are all important parts of their rehabilitation process,” explains the volunteer. The drawings are subsequently collated into an exhibition and displayed physically on site as well as via the social networks. “This enables us to create awareness of a target group that otherwise receives little attention,” she says. “Primarily, though, we show the children the potential they have inside and how to become a productive part of society.”

Florent Aubry, Singapore, Singapore

Partner: Adrenalin Group of Social Enterprises, Singapore, Singapore

“Most charities’ campaigns depict the lives of people with disabilities as hard and dreary in order to generate donations based on sympathy,” explains Florent Aubry. “Our ‘Purple Parade’ takes a different approach – we show them to be caring, fun-loving and happy members of society.” Since 2013, there has been an annual procession through Singapore in which disabled citizens present their skills and talents to the public. Thanks to Aubry’s initiative, the parade is now captured on film and shown as a video series. Its distribution in the media brings the initiative a significant step closer to its goal – the acceptance of disabled people in society.

Sandy Song, Beijing, China

Partner: Beijing Hongdandan Education and Culture Exchange Center, Beijing, China

“Cinema in the Heart” is the name of a cooperation project between Bayer and the Hongdandan Community Center that helps the blind enjoy cultural participation. Every Saturday, a special film for the blind is shown in the historical surroundings of an old court building while volunteers provide an audio commentary. The guests come from all over Beijing, sometimes traveling for up to two hours to attend the showings. “Making the films ready to be shown is challenging,” admits Sandy Song. “That’s why we need to thoroughly prepare for the events. We watch the films at least three times before doing the live commentary. After the showings, our guests often tell us we should keep up our endeavors – that’s when we know our hard work has paid off.”

Björn Eklund, Solna, Sweden

Partner: Apne Aap Women’s Collective (AAWC), Mumbai, India

Björn Eklund plays an active part in improving the living standards of sexually exploited women in India. The support benefits an organization where women in need can spend the night and receive counseling and comprehensive advice. “We hope this will help them pave the way to a better future,” says Eklund, who has already supported several projects for AAWC. When asked what motivates him to do voluntary work of this sort, he cites a specific trigger: “I began to get involved with the program during my parental leave – as a father-to-be I became aware of how important it is for people in need to receive support.”

Elaf Murad, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Partner: “Sunrise,” a modern center for intensive physiotherapy, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Collages and images with colorful motifs and sculptures of “crazy hats,” the results of a free art therapy workshop for more than 30 autistic children. The project takes place in the “Sunrise” center, where children with disabilities receive speech therapy and physiotherapy. “Experimenting with colors and fabrics brightens everybody's lives up, especially those of children who cannot express themselves in words,” says Elaf Murad. At the end of the project the children present their works of art in an exhibition. “You can really see just how proud they and their parents are – and I can't help but smile,” says the Bayer employee.

Alexandra Goncharova, Rostov in Russia

Partner: Center for the Protection of Pregnant Women and Young Mothers, Rostov in Russia

“Let’s grow up healthy” is the name of Alexandra’s project that aims to support mothers who have no financial means to buy baby food. In specific terms, the project focuses on milk products for babies up to the age of 18 months, which are massively important to a baby’s development. “Children are our future. We want them to grow up without going hungry and thus lay the foundations for their future health,” remarks Alexandra.

Xin Gong, Tianjin in China

Partner: Students’ Association of Tianjin University, Tianjin in China

Xin Gong is involved in the “Young people for a better environment” program, which is dedicated to protecting the environment and educating students about environmental issues. Bayer volunteers and more than 3,000 students are working together on the project to protect the natural environment in seven communities and 13 agricultural businesses. What results can they show? “The population is conserving electricity and water, the carbon dioxide exchange has been reduced and the agricultural land has been enriched using earthworms,” says Xin Gong. An open competition is currently under way, in which students are planning their own environmental protection measures. “They are taking on even more responsibility, and are learning about creative thinking and team and communication skills,” says Gong.

Melisa Li Yi Chong, Petaling Jaya in Malaysia

Partner: Refuge for the Refugees, Petaling Jaya in Malaysia

Every Saturday a brunch is held for the children of refugees. “A balanced diet is a cornerstone for these crucial years in their physical, psychological and emotional development – and it is a basic right for girls and boys, including in terms of their later educational prospects,” says Melisa. The students also learn important facts about food hygiene and are given cookery courses – which means they can prepare food for their families.

Duyen Nguyen, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam

Partner: “Doctors for hope and neighborly love,” Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam

Cervical cancer is one of the most widespread illnesses in Vietnam. Duyen’s project offers education and early diagnosis tests for approximately 400 women living in rural areas around the Vietnamese capital. “They work hard in the agricultural sector,” says Nguyen. “Nonetheless, they are frequently not wealthy enough to afford medical care.” The goal of the project is to improve knowledge about cervical illnesses, create awareness of hygiene and a healthy lifestyle and use smear tests to diagnose potential cancer. The recovery rate when cancer is caught at an early stage is 100 percent.

Aigul Zhakupova, Almaty in Kazakhstan

Partner: Nur Family Orphanage, Talgar in Kazakhstan

This project is providing the family orphanage with new windows. “Until recently, the children at Nur froze in the cold and had to sleep in their coats throughout the long winters,” says Aigul. The facility is run by a sprightly pair of pensioners and is currently home to 110 young people, 60 of whom are university students. The couple both feel it is important to assume the parental role, as far as possible, by taking a keen interest in their children’s education and sense of security. Unlike state institutions, the young inhabitants can remain at the orphanage till they start their own families.

Anand Srinivasan, Thane in India

Partner: Sri Yadugiri School, Melukote in India

Stopping child labor and improving women’s job prospects were Anand Srinivasan’s objectives when he launched his education project in 2004. Some 200 schoolchildren from socially deprived rural areas are currently attending this facility, and the first cohort of youngsters has just successfully completed the full nine years of schooling there. “A good school education significantly improves the future prospects of our students, who are threatened with child labor,” Anand says. “And we hope they will remain in Melukote and thus inspire progress in our region.” The schoolchildren are taught mainly by local teachers.

Thi Ngoc Han Le, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam

Partner: “Refuge in the eighth district” orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

“Disturbed sleep and a grumbling stomach do not make good conditions for academic success,” says Thi Ngoc. The project will replace old sleeping mats with bunk beds, mattresses, pillows and blankets for 20 children, and dairy and meat products will be added to the breakfast, which is currently very basic. “Our disadvantaged children go to school with a good night’s sleep behind them and their bellies full after a hearty breakfast, which improves their chances of a good education and a better life,” says Han Le.

Sarah Gillies, Remote Wellington, New Zealand

Partner: Naenae, Lower Hutt, New Zealand

At the boxing academy of the charitable “Naenae” youth organization, vulnerable boys aged nine and over are offered sporting activities in a safe environment. “Training fosters positive development in terms of health and personality,” says Sarah Gillies. “Many of our participants are in urgent need of this due to excess weight, alcohol problems or a lack of personal hygiene.” Boxing is therefore not the only thing covered by the project. Experts also provide information on drug prevention, diseases caused by poor nutrition, and how to prepare healthy meals on a small budget.

Cheryl Koshy, Auckland, New Zealand

Partner: Animal protection organization, Auckland, New Zealand

According to Cheryl Koshy, “animals trigger in humans a variety of stimuli that affect the senses.” This idea forms the basis of the animal protection organization’s contact therapy program. As part of this, around 250 volunteers and their animal companions visit people with special needs in hospitals, special schools, rehabilitation centers or children’s units. “It is primarily people whose mobility is heavily restricted due to age or the condition of their health,” says Koshy. “The overwhelming effect of this therapeutic approach has also been proven by research. Regular contact with animals can, among other things, alleviate depression, loneliness and boredom – and thus improve people’s quality of life with long-term effect.”

Renae Worboys-Brown, Pymble, Australia

Partner: Cootamundra community soup kitchen, Cootamundra, Australia

Freshly prepared, home-style cooking – that is what is on the menu once a week at the community soup kitchen. People in need receive a free hot meal there every Wednesday. But the facility offers its guests more than just a meal. It also distributes everyday necessities such as hygiene products. “Primarily, we take care of their social needs with respect and integrity,” reports Renae Worboys-Brown. “In doing so, we give new hope to people who otherwise receive little attention, and help them gain greater self-confidence. I’m especially pleased that children’s behavior, eating habits, and personal hygiene improve over time.”

Denise Metthews, Wollongbar in Australia

Partner: Northern Rivers Animal Services, Ballina in Australia

The Aboriginal inhabitants of Bundjalung National Park have a close relationship to their dogs and cats. However, the animals carry many diseases and reproduce unchecked. All this affects the health of both humans and animals. The rangers from Ballina Shire support the basic care and controlled breeding of the animals and pass on important information to the inhabitants. “We are improving the health of the community and also our relationship with the local Aborigines, and that is hugely important to us,” explains Denise.

Mary Valintine, Auckland in New Zealand

Partner: New Zealand Epilepsy Assistant Dogs Trust (NZEADT), Auckland in New Zealand

Three young dogs are being trained to become long-term companions to people suffering from severe epilepsy. “The animals pick up epileptic attacks, even before they occur. This gives the sufferers far more control over their lives and increases their self-confidence,” says Mary, the veterinary practitioner responsible for the selection and health care of the dogs.

Ulrike Barger, Vienna, Austria

Partner: Austrian Mountain Rescue Services, Vienna, Austria

Increasing numbers of people are getting into accidents during Alpine activities; there are large growth rates, particularly in the area of cardiovascular emergencies. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the mountain rescuers to provide rapid and expert care to casualties. For this reason, the employees of the paramedic unit now also train “non-mountain rescuers.” Through close cooperation with Alpine associations tour guides, hikers and mountaineers are being trained for outdoor emergencies. “They can then also provide first aid assistance in cases of heart attack, stroke or head injury – these are the very areas where prompt first aid improves the chances of survival and heavily reduces the risk of permanent consequences from accidents,” explains Ulrike Barger.

Sezgi Sakar, Izmir, Turkey

Partner: TBESF, Izmir, Turkey

Sport brings people together and knows no barriers – Sezgi Sakar firmly believes this. Through his project he would like to get people with disabilities interested in the game of boccia. Currently, only around 100 disabled people in Turkey actively pursue the precision sport. “We would like to change this with our initiative and above all appeal to children,” says Sakar. In training, people with and without disabilities play the sport together. “Through this they learn to understand each other better,” he explains. “In addition, our disabled players in particular hone their physical and mental skills, thus supporting their rehabilitation process. And, not least of all, playing boccia simply makes you happy.”

Sergio Ruggieri, Trani, Italy

Partner: EPASS Onlus, Bisceglie, Italy

According to Sergio Ruggieri, the “Health for All” project benefits those people in Apulia “who need it.” “By this we mean poor people, but primarily also immigrants and middle-class families. They are the ‘new poor’ and often unfortunately don’t have the means to be able to afford specific important examinations.” The basis of the initiative is to develop a free health care center in Bisceglie in which around 30 physicians offer their services free of charge and based on financial donations. They include cardiologists, dermatologists, lung specialists, pediatricians and therapists. There is also a cultural mediator who facilitates work with people from other countries. It is the only health care center of its kind within a radius of around 100 km.

Natalie Landecka, Olomouc, Czech Republic

Partner: Cmelacek Z.S. – society of friends and parents of children with disabilities, Ostrava, Czech Republic

The Cmelacek society supports people with disabilities on different levels. The employees organize trips, summer camps and riding lessons and operate their own daycare center. A pottery kiln was purchased for this facility thanks to the dedication of Natalie Landecka. “The children produce tiny pieces of pottery here,” she says. “That trains their fine-motor skills, creativity and powers of concentration. They then sell the products and in doing so learn to understand the value of money and hone their financial skills.” When selling, the children come into contact with people in everyday situations. “Through this we would like to break down people’s prejudices and advance our children’s integration into society,” says the volunteer.

Michela De Marchi, Barcelona, Spain

Partner: Dimbali Sa Ndjaboot organization, Guediawaye, Senegal

Michela de Marchi volunteers with a health project for abandoned children in Senegal. “It is not uncommon for them to end up in institutions that send them out to beg,” she explains. “However, the ‘income’ is not spent on good-quality food or health care for the children, unfortunately.” Thanks to a cooperation with various health care centers in the country, over 100 children are receiving free medical treatment for 12 months. As a volunteer, she hopes above all that this will lead to a sustained commitment: “We gain good access to the institutions through our initiative. We intend to encourage them to continue treating three or four children at their own expense after the project has ended – and therefore to improve the situation and prospects of many girls and boys on a permanent basis.”

Marie-Louise Hoyer, Mijdrecht, Netherlands

Partner: Run for KiKa (children with cancer), Amsterdam, Netherlands

Marie-Louise Hoyer volunteers with the “KiKa” organization as a fund-raiser and marathon runner. This organization has set itself the goal of curing 95 percent of childhood cancer patients in the Netherlands by 2025. To this end, it finances the research and application of improved scientific methods. Part of the money required is “collected on the run” by volunteer fund-raisers such as Hoyer, who successfully ran the New York Marathon in 2015 and the London Marathon in 2016. “At the events we draw attention to KiKa’s messages and provide a platform for one of the most important charities,” she says. Besides the runs – the next is the Tokyo Marathon in 2017 – she supports a girl from her neighborhood who suffers from cancer and also collects money for KiKa – as at a charity dinner she organized which brought in around EUR 10,000.

Cristina Viggano, Milan, Italy

Partner: Association for psychomotor dimensions, Milan, Italy

Cristina Viggano’s project combines psychomotor learning activities with direct experience of nature. To this end, the association has equipped a rural building in line with ecological considerations. 16 children with psychomotor difficulties are taught in two classes indoors and outdoors. In the building the therapists work with soft dice, mattresses and natural materials such as leaves, cones and stones. However, the majority of activities take place in the open air, where the children implement their own gardening ideas when growing vegetables, for example. “Haste and superficiality can create a new kind of poverty,” Viggano believes. “For me, the project has a real pioneering character as in times of increased digitalization it offers children very specific and continuous experiences in the natural world. And that is incredibly important for their overall development.”

Ana Osmanovic, Diegem, Belgium

Partner: NEPHRON association for kidney patients, Skopje, Macedonia

The “Let’s Talk About Organ Donation!” project would like to draw the public’s attention to the subject of the same name and increase people’s awareness of organ and tissue donation. Measures taken include a classic media campaign, use of affected and well-known ambassadors or workshops, and panel discussions with young people. “What does organ donation really accomplish? It is unbelievably important to start direct dialog about it,” believes Ana Osmanovic. “Because when someone decides to donate it means that at least one person, and maybe as many as 10 people, are given a future.” The long-term aim of the initiative is, as Osmanovic explains, “for Macedonian people to view organ donation as one last act of altruism.”

Ülkü Karataban, Istanbul, Turkey

Partner: Association for children’s education, Istanbul, Turkey

“The Gift of Sound” is an educational project for preschool children with hearing impairments. “This is the most important learning phase of their lives due to the rapid pace of speech and brain development,” according to Ülkü Karataban. “If they are not offered appropriate services, speech problems cannot be compensated for and psychological problems arise. Unfortunately, few services are offered to this target group in Turkey.” Thanks to Karataban’s initiative, an elementary school in his neighborhood is being equipped with a smartboard, “Because visual learning opportunities are extremely effective for the children. We are also establishing a group of volunteers who are learning sign language and help at the school.” The goal of the program is to prepare preschool children for mainstream school in the best way possible and to create equal opportunities.

Silvia Casalini, Milan, Italy

Partner: Kolbe Onlus association, Milan, Italy

The “Kolbe” association offers comprehensive support to people with disabilities. The organization depends on donations to do this as only a few families can afford the services offered. Thanks in part to the dedication of Silvia Casalini, “Kolbe” can now buy high-quality food and pay the rent on the administrative building for a period of one year. Furthermore, around 30 people with Down syndrome are going on a special journey: together with volunteer helpers they are spending one week on a nature vacation near Milan. “People with Down syndrome have social problems that still attract too little attention in society,” says the Bayer employee, who is involved as a volunteer. “With this vacation, we are bringing variety, joy and tranquility into their lives.”

Özkan Memisoglu, Istanbul, Turkey

Partner: Mahmut Sevket Pasa elementary and middle school, Istanbul, Turkey

457:110 – these figures show in grams the different per capita consumption of toothpaste in Germany and Turkey in 2010. “These figures demonstrate that people pay little attention to their teeth in our country,” says Özkan Memisoglu. “According to studies, around 30 million people hardly ever or never brush their teeth. This is reflected in the state of their health.” Memisoglu is committed to improving the dental hygiene of the younger generation through a pilot project at an elementary school. 250 packets containing brushes and toothpaste tubes are being provided for this purpose as well as a brochure with tips on correct brushing. “We would like to tackle a major problem in society – that’s why we’re starting with schoolchildren, the future of our community,” the volunteer says.

Marisca Marian, Bucharest, Romania

Partner: “Help With Autism” association, Bucharest, Romania

The “I Have Autism – Help Me to Learn” project is aimed at 48 affected children aged between two and seven. Over 12 months, they follow an educational program in which they are taught creativity, independent working and academic knowledge. “Through this we hope to prepare them for a school career at a completely normal educational facility,” explains Marisca Marian. Their parents are also offered comprehensive counseling for this step: the project’s employees make suggestions for meaningful leisure activities, provide information on practical solutions for integration at the mainstream school, and advise on legal matters.

Joan McCormack, Tyrrellspass, County Westmeath, Ireland

Partner: Down Syndrome Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

Thanks to the dedication of people like Joan McCormack, young people with Down syndrome receive individual language training with a professional speech therapist. Unfortunately, even in a country like Ireland the availability of this type of therapy is limited, with not all affected families receiving the services they need. “It is proven that early intervention against communication difficulties improves the quality of life of people with Down syndrome with lasting effect,” explains McCormack. “It is my heartfelt desire to make the fundamental gift of speech that we as high-functioning people take so much for granted accessible to them, too.”

Jana Mechova, Prague, Czech Republic

Partner: Citizens’ cultural association, Ostrava, Czech Republic

In the mobile “Mental Café,” people with mild intellectual disabilities prepare coffee to sell at events and in the public areas of Ostrava. To this end, a bicycle was equipped with a further wheel and converted into a rolling coffee shop with a coffee machine, cups and sink etc. “Our project combines many benefits,” explains Jana Mechova. “Disabled people are included in working life, learn new skills and earn their own money. In communicating with people, they also interact with them – in ordinary places and in completely normal everyday situations. This, in turn, supports our most important objective: to break down people’s prejudices.”

Willie MacLean, Westwood, East Kilbride, Scotland, United Kingdom

Partner: “Young Life” foundation, Westwood, East Kilbride, Scotland, United Kingdom

PopUK – this is the name of the initiative Bayer employee Willie MacLean is involved in together with Bayer retiree Lennox Prentice. It teaches social, cultural, and moral values to elementary school children through songs with original and life-affirming lyrics. Very diverse partners are involved in the program: municipalities including their schools and other municipal institutions, church groups and companies. “The project is a fantastic model for integrating an entire community,” says MacLean. An emotional highlight is a public musical performance by the school students. Willie remembers one incident in particular. “One girl’s parents found an entry in her diary after her death: ‘Today I was a pop star. I sang in the PopUK concert – it was the best night of my life.’”

Jan Wisse, Mijdrecht, Netherlands

Partner: Villa Joep Foundation, Hellevoetsluis, Netherlands

Neuroblastoma is a malignant disease of the sympathetic nervous system that arises primarily in early childhood. “Although the disease is rare, it is associated with a high mortality rate of around 70 percent. That makes it difficult to initiate good research,” explains Jan Wisse. The Villa Joep Foundation, which was founded in 2004, is dedicated to this concern. “Our ultimate goal is to be able to cure children of the disease. However, this requires intensive research activities that we would like to support with EUR 1.5 million per year.” Together with his fellow campaigners, Wisse produces communication materials with the goal of raising the profile of the foundation’s work and making it easier to procure funding.

Oksana Marjunits, Tallinn, Estonia

Partner: Estonian Scout Association (ESA), Tallinn, Estonia

Oksana Marjunits has been organizing study days and training camps for the Estonian Scout Association for over 12 years. Through her funding project, she organizes leadership training where the participants are taught the practical skills needed by future leaders. “For me, the light in the children’s eyes and their honest feedback after every event we do together are still the reason I continue to support the good idea of the scout association after so many years,” Marjunits explains.

Mervi Kuntuu, Turku, Finland

Partner: HOPE Lohja Finland, Lohja, Finland

The HOPE organization provides support to children from families in need. Its employees’ responsibilities include reusing children’s clothing and organizing meaningful leisure activities for socially disadvantaged girls and boys – Mervi Kuntuu provides swimming lessons, for example. Thanks to the project, other children aged from 10 to 13 can pursue a fulfilling hobby. “Young people are at risk of social exclusion, particularly at this stage in their lives,” Kuntuu explains. “That’s why I’m pleased that we are able to give them a new purpose in life and thus strengthen their self-confidence and personality.”

Eda Benli, Istanbul, Turkey

Partner: “Young Life” foundation, Istanbul, Turkey

As part of the “Color Wheel” project, Eda Benli works with psychologists and educators to train students for voluntary work in society. “Collaborating with the young people is very productive,” reports Benli. “Their energy coupled with my experience – that was very rewarding for both sides.” The new volunteers’ activities include a river clean-up and helping at a nursing home for senior citizens. “After briefly not daring to speak, the different generations soon started to make contact here over brunch. These moments show me that building sincere interpersonal relationships is the most important thing of all,” the volunteer says.

Amanda Mitchell, England, United Kingdom

Partner: “Young Life” foundation, Sudbury, England, United Kingdom

Amanda Mitchell spends several hours at the athletic field each weekend. She coaches a very special team there: a soccer team for people with disabilities. Boys and men between the ages of 12 and 45 are able to improve their playing skills and regularly take part in tournaments. “Many players have made new friends on our team. At the competitions they feel accepted and appreciated,” reports Mitchell. “I think it is inspiring to see the respect with which our players treat each other. One player described the value of being an active part of the team as follows: ‘I used to only be able to see the murky water in the river, but today I can swim in it.’ I’m very moved by this.”

Elena Armasu, Chisinau in Moldova

Partner: “Little People” Association, Chisinau in Moldova

Students of medicine and psychology use drama performances, parlor games and art therapy to bring a bit more color to the day-to-day lives of around 60 children with cancer in the Oncology Institute of the Moldovan hospital. The leisure activities have a lot of beneficial effects, with the boys and girls growing in confidence and being more willing to cooperate in their treatment, which leads to better outcomes. “Cancer is no reason to give up,” says Elena. “We want to give them courage and show love and compassion. It’s about the children’s chances of survival!”

Turker Aydin, Istanbul in Turkey

Partner: Menemen elementary school, Izmir in Turkey

Good handwashing can save lives – of that, Turker is sure. “It is the very first defense against illnesses from a simple cold to serious diarrhoeal diseases, which many children in Turkey fall victim to.” That is why he is committed to the project “Health is the real wealth,” which is being rolled out in a pilot phase at Menemen elementary school. “It is in a socially disadvantaged region where hygiene standards are miserable,” says Turker. The project involves repairing toilets and procuring soap dispensers and other hygiene materials. There is also training on the importance of regular handwashing and wash calendars made by Bayer.

Jana Caletkova, Prague in the Czech Republic

Partner: Boruvka Prague, Prague in the Czech Republic

“I work, therefore I am.” That is what the Boruvka program, which aims to integrate people with physical disabilities into everyday work, is all about. Participants learn key skills for various jobs such as sewing and bookbinding, with their training tailored to their specific circumstances. “We help people gain long-term employment on the labor market and financial independence,” says Jana. The goal of the program is also to make people with disabilities a more visible part of society.

Andrei Cazacu, Bucharest in Romania

Partner: Medical Students’ Society, Bucharest in Romania

Some 40 volunteer medics working in the rural areas of Romania are providing examinations and preventive services for issues such as balanced diet, cancer prevention and vaccination. “We believe this type of medical education can give socially disadvantaged families better long-term prospects in life,” says Cazacu. People from ethnic minorities, such as the Roma population, are also benefiting from the project.

Muriel Crappeel-Balas, Lyon in France

Partner: 1,2,3 Dys, Francheville in France

The project gives young people who suffer from ADHS and dyspraxia the tools they need to cope better in school and working environments. It successfully combines several meditation techniques to give participants alternative learning strategies and train them in basic skills related to perception, cognitive processes and identification. “We achieve improvements that help our participants get a traineeship and start a career just like other people their age,” says Muriel.

Anna Hrymchak, Kiev in Ukraine

Partner: “Rivival” rehabilitation center for children with disabilities, Chernihiv in Ukraine

Chernihiv is one of the most remote regions of Ukraine. There is only one organization in this region that is active in the rehabilitation of children with disabilities – Rivival. The project will add a physical therapy room with home trainers, exercise balls and special equipment for children with physical disabilities to the facility. “We can now provide sport activities for 10 children a day and 1,500 boys and girls a year, thus improving the quality of life for many children and their wonderful families,” says Anna.

Marisca Marian, Bucharest in Romania

Partner: “Anna and the Children” Association, Bucharest in Romania

Some 50 severely at risk boys and girls between the ages of four and 17 receive a regular afternoon program including homework tutoring and organized leisure activities. “We play games together, visit museums and do sports in the park,” says Marisca. “All the time, we are teaching the children the importance of a structured routine and a good education.” The initiative also aims to cut the numbers of children dropping out of school – currently around 20 percent in Romania.

Vassiliki Massoura, Athens in Greece

Partner: Acharnes Municipal Authority, Acharnes in Greece

The population of Greece has been hit hard by the financial crisis. In the poorest areas of the Attica region, a little grocery shop is providing some relief thanks to the initiative of Bayer Hellas employees. It provides needy families with a monthly ration of olive oil, rice and bread, along with detergent, clothing, school supplies and toys. “We receive a wide range of material donations, and more than 100 households already benefit from our offer,” says Vassiliki. “We aim to extend our range and thus set up the grocery stores for the long term.”

Tatiana Nichosova, Kiev in Ukraine

Partner: CFA Society, Kiev in Ukraine

The “Encouraging future generations of investment professionals” program improves the educational level of students in the field of economics and management. “The renowned CFA project is considered one of the best in the world for investment specialists,” says Tatiana. Guest speakers lecture students and talk about ethical behavior in the investment community, the importance of professional certification and the current economic situation. Some 1,600 students at over 20 universities took part in the initiative in the first year of the project. There are also round tables, where university professors discuss training and career opportunities with business representatives.

Gabriela Peterka, Vienna in Austria

Partner: Hope Initiative, Vienna in Austria

Amateur actors have been performing fairytales in the Pfarre Krim church in Vienna for around 30 years. Some 2,000 children and adults attend the productions every year. The proceeds go to the “Hope Initiative,” which runs two children’s homes in the Transylvania region of Romania. “Abandoned children live in a family-like atmosphere there and are given a school education, which should enable them to live independently later in life,” Gabriela says. At the same time, the youngsters in Vienna also benefit from taking part in the theater’s activities. “There is clear evidence that exposure to fairytales aids the children’s development,” she says.

Maria Antonietta Schembri, Milan in Italy

Partner: San Bendedetto Opera, Milan in Italy

“Let’s get in the game” is the slogan of the Camilla Laboratory run by the charitable organization that develops special toys for children with disabilities. “Children interact with the world in the form of play – this is particularly true for disabled girls and boys,” Maria explains. “The stimulation generated during play forms a key part of their rehabilitation therapy.” A prime example is the toys made for visually impaired children, which have stronger contrasts in color, shape and size than regular toys.

Atanas Tsanov, Plovdiv in Bulgaria

Partner: National Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, Plovdiv in Bulgaria

The “Dolphins” project concerns teaching IT skills to the blind. Software that is specially adapted for the target group is used to convert text documents from websites, social media and digital study books into audio versions in conjunction with special multi-touch computers. “This enables us to focus on honing the senses other than sight that can be put to efficient use working with IT and in everyday life – in the same way dolphins do by using more than their eyes to navigate,” Atanas says. Upon completion of the course, the participants are awarded the European ECDL PC license, which certifies their aptitude for office and administrative tasks or for working in call centers.

Swesdelina Weltschewa, Barcelona in Spain

Partner: Sanu Foundation, Vilafranca in Spain

This initiative is in aid of a small orphanage in Nepal. Structural weaknesses mean the foundation is being laid for a new house, and some of the project funds are being used to purchase a solar panel. “Electricity is only available 16 hours a day in Nepal,” Swesdelina explains. “The alternative power supply can run the refrigerator non-stop and provide the children with light to complete their homework in the evenings.” The second part of the project “Sun for Sanu – Photos and Energy for a better LIFE” involves a hiking exhibition with poignant photographs. “I hope my pictures inspire people to donate money for the orphanage or to start volunteering.”

Michael Ochan Kilama, Milan in Italy

Partner: AVES Uganda, Milan in Italy

Conditions such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure are increasing dramatically in tropical Africa, too. However, local health facilities are almost completely focused on treating infectious diseases. In the village of Paico, a specialist medical center has therefore been opened. Its goals are to treat patients, create greater awareness of cardio-vascular and metabolic conditions, and support research activities in these fields. “We are trying to give the local population a sense of what a healthier lifestyle is like,” says Michael.

Maria Guadalupe Córdoba de la Vega, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Partner: Ruta 40 foundation, San Isidro, Argentina

If you can see well, you can learn well – that’s the slogan of Maria de la Vega’s project. In the project, eye specialists visit four rurally situated schools in the Argentinian province of La Rioja, teach the importance of good eye health and examine around 340 girls and boys. In the first stage of the program, the teachers are trained to assess visual acuity and to recognize eye problems. They receive a manual for this for each child. In the second part of the project, the ophthalmologists examine the school children’s eyesight and provide glasses free of charge where required. “We know that eye diseases lead to fewer learning and attention disorders if treated early,” explains Maria de la Vega. “This ultimately leads to fairer educational opportunities among the children. We are delighted to enable this in a region where there are hardly any specialist physicians.”

Inés Balbina Valdivieso Arias, Quito, Ecuador

Partner: Children’s cancer center in Loya hospital, Loya, Ecuador

Inés Balbina Valdivieso Arias is committed to building a hospital classroom. Through doing this she hopes to make it easier for children suffering from cancer to reintegrate into the mainstream education system following their treatment phases. “Our goal is to ensure equal opportunities for our young patients,” explains the volunteer. “They are already very disadvantaged due to their illness. Their health condition causes emotional problems and it is primarily their education that suffers as a result. The continuity of schooling created by our program is a message of hope.” In building the classroom, she and her fellow campaigners also intend to assume a pioneering role. “We hope that all health care facilities in the south of Ecuador will copy our project.”

Federico Eduardo Aumann, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Partner: Women 2000 civic association, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

The “Women 2000” civic association is supporting 180 women on their journey to entrepreneurial independence. This is based on a three-step plan using theory and practice over a 12-month period. First, the women receive multi-module management training. Based on this the participants prepare their business plan. They then receive a microloan with which to finance the start of their entrepreneurial activities and are supported by a total of 40 volunteers in an advisory capacity. “What makes it special is that our women would never be supported by conventional banks,” says Federico Eduardo Aumann. “Through the project we are founding around 100 new companies and thereby also stimulating the local economy. In particular, however, we are showing people career prospects they can combine well with their family commitments thanks to flexible working hours.”

Erica Ana d’Elía, Maquinista Savio, Argentina

Partner: San Ignazio home, Rincón de Milberg, Tigre, Argentina

Thanks to the dedication of Erica Ana D’Elía the San Ignazio therapeutic center offers preparatory workshops for various careers. Acquiring new technical equipment makes it possible to offer training in the areas of music, film or computer science, while cooking courses can take place thanks to a new fireplace with a stove. “Our program forms the basis for successful vocational training for disadvantaged young people,” d’Elía reports enthusiastically. “This, in turn, improves their chances of future employment enormously. In this way, we are making a valuable contribution to our residents’ reintegration into society.”

Daniel Andres Maqueira Moreira, Santiago, Chile

Partner: Bet-El family center, Llay-Llay, Chile

Substance abuse, family problems, welfare or educational prospects – at the “Bet-El” family center in Llay-Llay, Chile, voluntary helpers support people in need with diverse issues free of charge using a holistic approach. “Teachers, social workers and special needs teachers work hand in hand here, which is unique in our region,” explains Daniel Moreira. Accordingly, demand for advisory meetings and extra tuition is high. Moreira focuses in particular on improving the infrastructure: classrooms and meeting rooms are being renovated. “We are therefore increasing our service capacity by 50 percent and can now even offer new perspectives to people from the surrounding communities,” the voluntary worker is pleased to report.

Claudia Palacios, Puebla, Mexico

Partner: Puebla IBP municipal foundation, Puebla, Mexico

The children’s hospital in Puebla, Mexico, has an outstanding reputation and specializes in treatments for cancer. Over 75 percent of the patients come from outside, some even from abroad. “Many socially vulnerable families are among them,” explains Claudia Palacios. “They have difficulties financing their mostly two-week to two-month stays.” Her “A Table for Everyone” canteen project supports the families with nutrition. 4,000 meals – frequently comprising three courses, bread, dessert and drinks – are distributed as part of the initiative. Adults pay less than one euro for this, while children eat for free. Thanks to the Bayer funding, the kitchen is getting new equipment. “We would like to use this to raise the quality of the meals and to reach 50,000 people a year in the future,” Palacios reveals.

Vicente Jaramillo Palacios, Ibarra, Ecuador

Partner: Christian faith community of Ibarra, Ibarra, Ecuador

The main purpose of the “Community Medical Clinic” project is to provide free medical care to the low-income citizens of Ibarra because, as Vicente Jaramillo Palacios explains, “they have virtually no chance of getting statutory or private health insurance.” Thanks to the strong network within the faith community, many specialist physicians participate in the project on a voluntary basis. This makes it possible to offer services in the areas of general medicine, gynecology, pediatrics, dental health and internal medicine, for example.

Belkis Monsalve, Caracas, Venezuela

Partner: Venezuelan association for parents of children with cancer, Caracas, Venezuela

Belkis Monsalve’s project supports leisure and educational activities for children with cancer and their families in Caracas. The program is extensive and offers activities for diverse areas of interest and situations: drawing, music and laughter therapy as well as handicraft courses are on the agenda, as are workshops on food preparation, hygiene and self-management. As of very recently, the project is also offered at the oncology unit of the municipal children’s hospital. “Our target group here is primarily people with a low income who can’t afford any educational or support services,” says Monsalve. “They are the very ones we would like to motivate to manage their illness and treatment side-effects better.”

Néstor Iván Ariel Ibáñez, Moreno, Argentina

Partner: Los Hornos restaurants, Moreno, Argentina

Néstor Ibáñez believes that good nutrition forms the basis for good physical and mental development. That is why restaurant operators support the community kitchen in the nearby fifth district of Moreno City in Argentina. Through the project, over 300 children and young adults along with around 200 of their relatives receive healthy meals and valuable tips on the right nutrition. “Substandard food means social exclusion,” says the Bayer employee, “as young people’s school education as well as their career prospects suffer as a result of poor overall development. We are pleased that our program enables us to contribute to equal opportunities in society.”

Maribel del Mar Rovetto, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

Partner: Santa Cruz children’s home and orphanage, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

Around 10 percent of the Bolivian population are diabetics. However, there are hardly any special foods for this target group. “That’s our niche,” says Maribel del Mar Rovetto. “In our children’s home, we are founding a small company that produces and sells homemade jam for diabetics.” In doing so, the project brings several benefits: the organization generates income for itself, thus ensuring its survival over the long term. It also makes a contribution to good health – by using natural resources, for example. “And what is particularly important to us is that the children learn technical skills that increase their opportunities on the labor market and therefore their chance of a better future,” says the volunteer.

Loreto Ozimica, Santiago, Chile

Partner: Viéndonos Crecer kindergarten/Hugo Pino Vilches elementary school, El Tránsito, Chile

I learn better with my senses – that is the meaning behind Loreto Ozimica’s environmental project. It is implemented in two facilities attended primarily by children from families of agricultural workers with a low level of education and income. The goal is to educate them to interact with the natural world in a respectful way and to teach them to change their eating habits. “Many of our 350 girls and boys are obese, exactly like their parents – we would like to counter this by giving them an understanding of how it is possible to cook healthy meals with fruit and vegetables they have grown themselves,” says Ozimica. Through the project they experiment with sowing vegetables in a greenhouse and address the topics of water treatment and recycling.

Beatriz Forero, Bogotá, Colombia

Partner: Centro MYA, Bogotá, Colombia

In the MYA centers in Bogotá and the rural area of La Calera, over 200 people with mental disabilities receive health care and educational services. However, demand from the population is far greater than the supply on offer as population growth in La Calera is high. Beatriz Forero is actively involved in acquiring urgently needed medical equipment for the areas of breathing therapy and dental health. “This enables us to fulfill patients’ day-to-day needs better,” she explains. “In particular, I’m thinking here of our children with cerebral palsy and other severe disabilities. Our goal is to improve the quality of life of even more people.”

Roberto Carlos Sánchez, Bogotá, Colombia

Partner: Dominican organization of the Usminia community, Bogotá, Colombia

The “Sewing for the Future” project supports the career prospects of single mothers. “We teach them the craft and train them to sell the products they make,” says Roberto Sánchez. “We hope that the women’s independent work will enable them to fulfill their role as the responsible head of the family.” If they don’t open their own business, at least the women have been trained in a craft and can offer their skills on the open job market. The support funds are used to purchase sewing machines and materials for the long-term project.

Martha Lucia Ruíz, Bogotá, Colombia

Partner: Arbelaez Franciscan retirement home, Bogotá, Colombia

When the sun is shining, we step outside the house and go for a walk – many of us take that for granted. Thanks to Martha Ruíz’s initiative, the residents of a retirement home can do this as well, since the facility now has 25 wheelchairs. “My relatives and I always go to the retirement home to visit my aunt, who is almost 100 years old,” she explains. “When doing so, we noticed how important it is to the older people to receive attention. I am delighted that the residents now leave their rooms and we can do activities together in the fresh air. That makes them happy and enhances their quality of life.”

Maria Nathalia Arango, Bogotá, Colombia

Partner: “Creating Illusions” foundation, Bogotá, Colombia

Maria Arango volunteers at a home for abused and neglected children. Together with her husband, she supports the girls and boys with school issues and focuses on reading with them. “By doing so, we hope to teach values such as friendship, sincerity and respect to these children who have already suffered so much in their short lives,” says Arango. Thanks to her project, necessary repairs have been carried out to the building and purchases made for the facility’s leisure area. “The book corner is getting a face-lift, for example, as reading is the foundation for learning in all areas,” she adds.

Hipólito Orsini, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Partner: Chacabuco agricultural college, Buenos Aires, Argentina

“We would like to improve the quality of agricultural products,” is Hipólito Orsini’s answer when asked about the goal of his educational project. That’s why the engineer, together with some Bayer colleagues, has been going to the agricultural college since 2010 and teaching the children of local producers theoretical knowledge regarding agricultural technology and the safe use of crop protection agents. Hipólito focuses his efforts on practical things: the school is getting its own laboratory where the fifth to seventh-graders can independently conduct soil and seed analyses. The new scientific facility benefits not just the young people but also the community, which can use the laboratory free of charge. “Providing education is the best way to improve our country,” says Orsini of his voluntary work.

Elsa Uviedo, Valencia, Venezuela

Partner: Sembrando Risas Foundation – Doctor Jaso Hospital Clowns, Valencia, Venezuela

Laughter is the best medicine – this is what those in charge of the clown initiative believe. Its main purpose is to alleviate the suffering of children in hospitals and help promote positive treatment outcomes through humorous and creative performances. The artists also bring a positive atmosphere to nursing homes and community activities free of charge, stirring up enthusiasm with balloon games, sketches or laughter yoga. “Laughter strengthens one’s health and is pure recovery – that’s what we consciously like to do at our public events,” explains Elsa Uviedo, who is involved as a volunteer. “Because that is exactly where we also reach poorer families for whom moments of happiness are rather rare.”

Claudia Fabeiro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Partner: Nursing home for the elderly in San Jose province, Argentina

Claudia Fabeiro is committed to improving the quality of life of senior citizens at the nursing home. “I visit the facility every two weeks to cook for older people, distribute food and play board games with them. They are especially pleased when people give them their time and attention,” she says. She also shares responsibility for acquiring clothes and games. Thanks to Fabeiro’s dedication, the social facility can buy a new industrial washing machine and a dryer.

Javier Alfonso Villar Guerra, Barranquilla in Colombia

Partner: May 1st education initiative, Barranquilla in Colombia

20 young people are gathering valuable experience by becoming involved in a communal radio station. They are learning how to express themselves and organize workflows and finding out how journalists play their part in the democratic process. “Through the ‘Conscientious Reporter’ project, we are improving the job prospects of young people in a sector where they can play a part in shaping sustainable social developments,” says Javier Villar.

Zaida Bernal, Mexico City in Mexico

Partner: “Blind Journeys” association, Mexico City in Mexico

Riding tandems, visiting the Chocolate Museum and going to the theater – just three of the many activities that Zaida and other volunteers pursue with around 250 people who have visual impairments. “Coming on our trips plays a big part in their social integration,” says Zaida, who goes on the excursions every Sunday. Part of the project is also a course, during which volunteer companions are given special awareness training for the needs of blind people. “It’s important to have this awareness, as it creates empathy and ultimately helps the whole of society.”

Fernanda Frantz, Porto Alegre in Brazil

Partner: Therapy with Pets, Porto Alegre in Brazil

Rabbits, parrots, parakeets and dogs – they are all part of a treatment program for socially isolated people. “Less stress, more empathy and improved memory – interaction with animals helps our participants feel better about life,” explains Fernanda. In her capacity as a vet for the project, she looks after the animals who are such important companions to older people and people with disabilities and emotional problems. The program is interdisciplinary in nature and is supported by psychologists, vets, education experts and physiotherapists.

Karen Lady Bohórquez Cubillos, Bogota in Colombia

Partner: Yireh Foundation, Bogota in Colombia

Karen Lady is committed to a music and soccer school for young people in the Bosa district of the Colombian capital. Domestic abuse, alcoholism and casual labor play a big part in the everyday life of many people in this socially disadvantaged area. “We want to give the children a foundation that will enable them to harness their potential,” she says. Around 90 children take advantage of the sport, dance and music activities that are on offer – and benefit from many new skills that they can also use to help shape a non-violent society.

Diana Carolina Guaricela Borja, Quito in Ecuador

Partner: “House of Mercy,” Quito in Ecuador

Coming together through music instead of taking drugs and alcohol – that is the spirit behind this project, which gives young people aged between 12 and 18 from the Zámbiza quarter of the city the opportunity to participate in a two-year music program. “This is a preventive approach to a very complex social problem in our region,” says Diana. “Music helps the young people to bolster their sense of self-worth and develop skills such as dexterity and decision-making, which will have a positive influence on their families and their own path in life.”

Ana Karina Garcia, Guatemala City in Guatemala

Partner: Education organization for the deaf, Guatemala City in Guatemala

Ana Garcia has launched a pilot project with interactive teaching for deaf people. Some 48 children under the age of six are taking part. Special teaching materials and techniques make the learning process enjoyable and focused for participants. “We are breaking down the barriers of silence with our model,” says Ana. “I will conduct studies to support the roll-out of our interactive teaching system and hope that I will be able to motivate other organizations to follow suit.”

Ruben Gil, Maracaibo in Venezuela

Partner: Center for Sexual Education, Maracaibo in Venezuela

Unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of sexual diseases – a lack of sex education for young people has a lot of negative consequences and “this is precisely the kind of knowledge that is missing in Venezuelan society,” says Ruben. The project, which is being carried out in collaboration with 10 local schools, aims to put that right. Together with 200 teachers and 1,500 parents, more than 3,000 students are being given information on how to respect their own body, protect themselves from infections and value relationships founded on mutual respect. The innovative nature of the project is beyond doubt: “It is the only project of its type in Venezuela, one we hope will trigger a cultural change in our country,” says Gil.

Sandra Lucia Gonzalez Granados, Barranquilla in Colombia

Partner: Yireh Foundation, Barranquilla in Colombia

Growing old with dignity – that is the objective that this care home for the elderly in Barranquilla is pursuing for its residents. “They are frequently on their own and need special care during the final stages of their lives,” says Sandra Gonzales, talking about the residents. Around 90 percent of staff at the home are volunteers. They look after the basic needs of the residents and provide psychological care. The project aims to improve the infrastructure of the care home and the quality of care that the non-fee-paying residents receive.

Silvia Rivas Jurado, San Salvador in El Salvador

Partner: La Escalón school booster club, El Salvador

15- to 18-year-old students learn how to cultivate vegetable gardens and study the basic techniques for cultivating and caring for fruit and vegetable cultures. “This increases the quality of the food consumed in the school,” says Silvia. “Above all, however, the young people gain knowledge that they will be able to apply in their community gardens, which will benefit more than 700 families.”

Rosa Magda Miguel Gonzalez, Santa Domingo in Dominican Republic

Partner: “Our Little Brothers” organization, Santa Domingo in Dominican Republic

This project aims to modernize the irrigation system for the “Casa Santa Ana” orphanage in San Pedro de Macorís. “We really value the importance of high-quality food for our 250 girls and boys,” says Rosa. “That is why we are growing our own fruit and vegetables in our garden.” Thanks to the new irrigation system, the orphanage can make efficient use of water resources, deter pests and increase production. “What’s more, the children are learning to adopt a responsible approach to the cultivation of agricultural land,” explains Gonzales.

Ximena Lozano Alvarez-Maza, Lima in Peru

Partner: “Red Ball” Association, Lima in Peru

“Music and laughter is the best medicine for improving the quality of life of young patients,” says Ximena Lozano. Her moon ball project brings volunteer musicians and clowns to visit children’s hospitals. The visits generally take place in the evenings so as to help the boys and girls relax and help them sleep. “Laughter therapy has a proven track record of achieving positive psychosocial effects,” explains Lozano. It is not just the patients who benefit from this – the physicians, nursing staff and relatives do, too. “We have often been told that our music brings a magical atmosphere to the late evening emptiness on the wards.”

Kristell Leytan Morales, Guatemala City in Guatemala

Partner: “ADECEOH A NEW DAY” development organization, Guatemala City in Guatemala

Kristell Morales is working to provide clean water for the El Jute community. Around 300 socially disadvantaged families benefit from the installation of a water purifier and training courses on how to use this precious resource properly in personal hygiene and nutrition. “Using dirty water can lead to serious gastric disorders that can sometimes even kill small children. This is what we are trying to prevent,” says Kristell. “Our project improves their quality of life and also brings a little bit of justice to families not really favored by fortune.”

Glauco Matos, Sao Paulo in Brazil

Partner: Saica Alencar Gomes Ferreira, Sao Paulo in Brazil

The organization provides a home for 21 children aged between two and 16 who were neglected or abused in their parental home. “The beds in our facility are broken, the children’s clothing and shoes are in a very bad state, and teenage girls have to sleep in bedrooms with no doors,” explains Glauco, who started in the project as a music teacher and now helps out in almost every area. “The project funds enable us to improve the quality of life of young people who had given up even the last glimmer of hope.”

Fabiano Ricardo Murta, Feira de Santana-Bahia in Brazil

Partner: ASSEC: Planters Association of Christ, Feira de Santana-Bahia in Brazil

Bread, cake and cookies are all produced in the mini bakery in the daycare center Fabiano supports. For many of the roughly 110 boys and girls looked after here, the meals in the daycare center are the only ones they have all day. “Our bakery is efficiently equipped, and forms the basis for the production of a huge amount of food,” explains Fabiano. The baked goods are sold at trade fairs, exhibitions and specialist markets. This allows the bakery project to pursue another goal. “We provide permanent jobs for a large number of mothers. We are happy to be able to provide families with a reliable income,” says Fabiano.

Milena Cristiana Pereira, São Paulo in Brazil

Partner: Pro-World Citizens, São Paulo in Brazil

English lessons to create equal opportunities – this is the goal of Milena’s project. One day each month, some 450 highly qualified experts come to teach foreign language skills to schoolchildren from socially deprived areas in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. “Only 7.5 percent of Brazilians speak English,” Milena says. “But this skill earns you 30 to 50 percent more in Latin America – and your job prospects hugely increase on the labor market.” We want to unleash schoolchildren’s intellectual curiosity, foster a positive attitude toward education and boost their belief that they can continue to succeed at school.”

Maria Gabriela Gonzales Perez, Quito in Ecuador

Partner: Fe Parish Church, Quito in Ecuador

The “Gift from Heaven” project provides the elderly, single mothers and the disabled with healthy meals. The food is served in the newly equipped dining hall, funded by donations, where some 150 people gather in sanitary conditions every Monday to Friday. The program also contains a social element. “While they are here, we try to communicate core values and encourage our guests to make lasting changes to their lifestyles,” Maria explains. “Here we apply the old adage: ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’.”

Claudia Vanessa Alvarenga Quintana, Tegucigalpa in Honduras

Partner: Solidaridad Children’s Aid Organization, Tegucigalpa in Honduras

“Access to basic sanitary systems is an important key to preventing malnutrition, fighting poverty and fostering positive development in local communities,” Claudia explains. For this reason, 36 families across Montaña Izopo, a region in central Honduras, are each being given a water closet and advice on how to use the drainage system correctly. In total, around 180 people are benefiting from this improvement to hygiene and the better standard of living it brings.

Hector Quiroz, Managua in Nicaragua

Partner: Care Home for the Elderly, Managua in Nicaragua

Hector’s project improves the standard of hygiene in the bathrooms, bedrooms and dining rooms of the elderly care home – for example by purchasing mattresses, towels, bath robes and cutlery. “We are improving the health standard and comfort of more than 70 forlorn old people,” Quiroz says. This offers them some happiness during the latter stages of their lives. That makes me happy too.”

Carmen Quintana, Lima in Peru

Partner: San Camilo House, Lima in Peru

San Camilo provides a home for HIV-positive orphans. To date, the facility has cared for some 150 infants aged up to three years, around 80 children between the ages of four and 18, and 25 pregnant women. They are given nutritious food, medical and psychological support and educational opportunities. “We want to lay a foundation that enables the children to go on to lead the healthiest and productive lives possible,” says Quintana, explaining the goals of the project.

Diana Saenz, Lima in Peru

Partner: Center for the Prevention of Child Malnutrition, Lima in Peru

A training program teaches young women and mothers in the Pamplona Alta settlement useful knowledge and skills for their own homes and as domestic aids, such as cooking, first aid and how to use a computer. “It is important for us that women can use their knowledge long-term for the community and thus assume social responsibility of their own accord,” Saenz explains.

Mitchelle Romero, San Jose in Costa Rica

Partner: Abraham Foundation Children’s Daycare Center, Tres Rios in Costa Rica

Mitchelle’s daycare center project provides a new, brightly colored facility made from natural materials such as plaster and wood. A designer’s touch has turned the monotonous, drab walls of the care rooms into a cheerful environment inspired by nature. “The mood of our 225 children is vastly improved by the mixture of colors,” Mitchelle says. “What’s more, the murals raise their awareness of natural resources. We hope this will encourage them to become long-term proponents of environmental conservation.”

Martin Bartolome de Urtiaga, Buenos Aires in Argentina

Partner: “La Mestiza” Local Health Center, Buenos Aires in Argentina

Martin’s project is all about creating an awareness of responsible sexual behavior. The target group is young people living in the eighth and ninth districts of Buenos Aires, which belong to the most socially deprived areas of the city. “The number of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases is very high here, particularly among young people. We want to reduce these rates,” Martin says. In order to get through to the young people, 17 to 28 year-olds from these districts are being trained as health assistants to perform educational work. They form an interface that fosters trust and acceptance among their peers and spread the knowledge they have acquired,” he explains.

Elsa Carolina Uviedo, San Diego in Venezuela

Partner: Doctor Jaso Hospital Clowns, Valencia in Venezuela

Laughter is the best medicine – this is what the Doctor Jaso team believes. They use humor and fantasy to promote the recovery of very sick children. In this new mobile musical therapy project, the clowns work together with the Enrique Tejera Children’s Hospital, where some 120,000 young patients are treated each year. The focus is on making music together around the sick beds with drums, xylophones and songs, or on guessing noises. “Making music is a creative and highly expressive process that aids relaxation. It helps the children, who often suffer from a sense of isolation, feel better and happier,” Elsa says.

Dr. Muhammad Aslam, Karachi in Pakistan

Partner: Kutiyana Memeon Association School, Karachi in Pakistan

Doctor, auditor, engineer – many of the 7,000 or so young people in the Kutiyana Memeon schools, which are based in the poorest areas of Karachi, dream of these professions. “However, if you ask them how they will make their dreams a reality, you find blank faces staring back at you – because the youngsters don’t have the right career planning,” explains Dr. Aslam. The project trains teachers as careers advisers, who can in turn train students to be coaches. “This ensures the initiative is founded on a sustainable basis and can help many students over several years plan their careers, help themselves and contribute to society,” says Aslam.

Muhammad Khammousieh, Hama in Syria

Partner: Charity Social Care, Hama in Syria

The long years of the Syrian conflict have left many women widowed. The “Pantry” project is teaching them how to preserve food. The food and drink they produce is then sold, and the profits used to pay the course participants a small monthly salary. “There are therefore several key advantages to the project,” says Muhammad. “The women learn a valuable skill that they can use in their everyday lives and which will help them later when they come to look for work. Above all, though, they now have an income, which enables them to pay their rent and buy food for their families.”

Ravit Kolsky, Kadima Zoran in Israel

Partner: Dotan Scouting Association, Ashdod in Israel

Everyone is talking about inclusion, and Ravit’s scouting association is addressing this goal. Young people with disabilities or behavioral issues join in with all the other boys and girls to participate in the activities offered by the organization. “Children with special needs are released from their isolation and simply included in our activities. The other participants also learn the value of giving and gain social skills,” says Ravit. “What’s more, they build up relationships that are good for everyone.” The highlight of the project is a joint summer camp.

Vared Levy, Kfar Hoaranim in Israel

Partner: Chevel Modyiin Regional Council, Lapid in Israel

What may seem like garbage to some people can be treasure for others – this is the motto of Vared Levy’s second-hand shop. Twice a week, volunteers sell donated clothing, jewelry and kitchen equipment to the needy at nominal prices. All of the money raised flows directly back into the community. It finances a first-aid course for young people and the neutering of stray cats. “I think our project is useful in all kinds of ways,” says Vared. “Re-using products helps reduce environmental impact, people are able to purchase goods that they could otherwise not afford, and we support education by targeting our project at young people and the elderly.”

Ricky Stolar, Hod Hasharon in Israel

Partner: The Jerusalem Hills Therapeutic Centers, Kiryat Ye’arim in Israel

Ricky Stolar’s project provides canine therapy for 10 to 11-year-olds who have been forced to leave home prematurely because of emotional or physical abuse. 12 girls and boys with serious behavioral problems are treated using this approach in 23 individual sessions each week. The therapy subdues aggression, boosts the children’s sense of self-worth and increases their prospects for social integration. Or as Stolar puts it: “We change the course of young children’s lives in a simple, effective and creative way.”

Rob Southwell, Alberta, Canada

Partner: “Equine oasis,” Alberta, Canada

According to Rob Southwell, “good relationships between people and animals can be incredibly rewarding.” This experience forms the basis of his project. It brings socially vulnerable people and horses together in a therapeutic setting. The participants help care for the animals and have the opportunity to ride. “Horses have great empathy and can help people going through difficult periods to express their feelings in various ways,” explains Southwell. “It makes me happy when they benefit from this – through greater self-confidence, for example, which enables them to forget past events and better overcome daily challenges.”

Becky Ryder, Ontario, Canada

Partner: Friends of the Museums of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Becky Ryder volunteers at a shared vegetable garden in the grounds of a museum. This sounds strange at first, but can be easily explained: she works with young people to grow vegetables on a disused excavation site to benefit an organization called Compass. “Many people benefit,” says Ryder. “Young people from the city learn a lot of practical things with us. However, it is primarily people in need who benefit: the Compass food bank supplies them with fresh products, thereby providing them with healthy variation in their diet.”

Sue Sibley, Toronto in Canada

Partner: St. John’s Church, Toronto in Canada

Volunteers from the “Food for Life” charity visit the church once a week and hand out fresh food to the needy. The institution adopts a different approach with this concept, whereas “other organizations with similar goals generally distribute canned preserves,” Sue explains. “However, it is important that our children consume fresh food every now and again to stay healthy.” In a new project, the church workers are now teaching the needy how to prepare these foods. “They learn how to put limited resources to better use and to make nourishing meals for their families from them,” she says.