In addition to the regular and long-term support of selected projects, Hilfswerk GL Zürich organizes special collections for catastrophes and supports organizations that provide immediate emergency help.
Earthquake Turkey/Syria, 2023
Two earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5 occurred on the Turkish–Syrian border on 6 February 2023. The scale of destruction and human suffering caused by the disaster is inconceivable. Across the two countries over 59,259 people died and more than 125,000 were injured. Infrastructure was also severely damaged. The situation is especially grave in Syria, where many buildings and essential facilities were already heavily damaged and in danger of collapse as result of war. The donations received, totaling approximately CHF 31,000, were transferred to the Swiss Red Cross, which is providing emergency aid together with its partner organizations in Turkey and Syria.
War in Ukraine, 2022
As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the lives of millions of people were thrown into disarray. At the beginning of March, Hilfswerk GL Zürich organized a special collection to help the war-affected population. Within a matter of days an extraordinary number of donations were received, amounting to CHF 110,000, which were transferred to the Swiss Red Cross.
In 2022, Pakistan was hit by flooding on an unimaginable scale. As a result of extreme monsoon rains, a third of the country stood under water. More than 33 million people were affected by the floods, and over one million homes were damaged. Over 720,000 animals were drowned and crops were destroyed. Drinking water was polluted and diseases spread. The people of Pakistan were in urgent need of help. Hilfswerk GL Zürich collected donations totaling approximately CHF 20,000 and transferred them to the Swiss Red Cross (SRC), which provided emergency aid together with its partner organizations in Pakistan.
Rhein-Valley Hospital in Kenya, 2012–2021
Over the course of nine years, Hilfswerk GL Zürich provided financial support to the Rhein-Valley Hospital association, which operated a small hospital for the destitute local population in the remote mountain region of Kasambara-Gilgil (Rift Valley Province, Kenya). The hospital was built in 2001 on the initiative of Stephan Holderegger, a native of the Rhein-Valley in Switzerland, who, out of gratitude for a successful lung transplant, wanted to give the remaining years of his life a deeper meaning. With an annual budget of CHF 250,000 the hospital provided basic medical care for the region. The hospital treated thousands of patients annually, and organized special vaccination days, particularly for children. In recent years, the Kenyan health care system has undergone major improvements. The government has opened many new medical facilities and professionalized existing ones. The small Rhein-Valley Hospital was unable to keep up with these measures. Although the association’s board made several attempts to optimize the running of the hospital and adapt it to the changing needs of the population, it was unable to find qualified medical staff willing to take on long-term responsibility at the Rhein-Valley Hospital. In addition, the number of outpatients had been steadily declining since the opening of other healthcare facilities in the region. These factors led the association of the Rhein-Valley Hospital to decide, with a heavy heart, to close the hospital in Kasambara-Gilgil at the end of June 2021. The hospital’s board expresses its sincere thanks for Hilfswerk GL Zürich’s support over the past nine years, which totaled CHF 257,000.
Drought and Malnutrition in Madagascar, December 2021
In 2021, southern Madagascar experienced its worst drought in 30 years. Around one million people, half of them children, were affected by food shortages. During the Christmas services held on 4 and 5 December 2021, Hilfswerk GL Zürich organized a special collection for the suffering population of Madagascar. The collection – amounting to approximately CHF 24,000 – was transferred to Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which treated the severely-malnourished population, particularly children under the age of 10, in numerous mobile clinics.
Civil war in Yemen, 2021
A special collection was organized for the victims of Yemen’s civil war during the Easter service of 28 March 2021, as well as on GL Zürich’s homepage. The civil war in Yemen is currently one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. Children under the age of five in particular are suffering from severe malnutrition and are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. The donations received, amounting to approximately CHF 39,000, were transferred to UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, which is one of the few aid organizations able to work in Yemen.
Explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, August 2020
On 4 August 2020, a massive explosion in the port of Beirut devastated entire neighborhoods of the Lebanese capital. Over 200 people died, 6,000 were injured, and 300,000 people lost their homes. In August, Hilfswerk GL Zürich made an online appeal for donations for the affected population. The funds received, amounting to approximately CHF 15,000, were donated to the Swiss Red Cross, which is supporting the Lebanese Red Cross’s emergency relief efforts.
COVID-19 pandemic, April 2020
During the Easter service of 5 April 2020, a special collection was organized for the benefit of the Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) COVID-19 crisis fund. The organization explained the pressing need for funds: “MSF’s efforts to contain the coronavirus require an incredible amount of energy and additional resources to respond to the outbreak in our 70+ countries of operation and current epicenters (Europe and the US). The support of our COVID-19 crisis fund allows us to provide medical assistance to combat the pandemic where it is most urgently needed.” The collection resulted in generous donations totaling approximately CHF 44,000.
Cyclone Idai in southeast Africa, March 2019
In March 2019 Cyclone Idai raged through Mozambique and the neighboring states of Zimbabwe and Malawi. The coastal city of Beira was particularly affected by the storm. The gusts, storm surges and flooding destroyed almost the whole city and large parts of the immediate environment. Hilfswerk GL Zürich appealed for special donations for the cyclone’s victims on the occasion of the service at GL Zürich on 30 March 2019 and on its website. The earmarked donations received resulted in the amount of approximately CHF 8,000, which was transferred to the Swiss Red Cross.
Flood disaster in Kerala (southern India), 2018
In August 2018, the Indian state of Kerala was hit by the worst flood disaster in 100 years. The monsoon was exceptionally strong that year, causing great damage and much hardship. 44 rivers burst their banks due to heavy rainfall and flooded large parts of the state of Kerala. Hilfswerk GL Zürich designated the September prayer collection for the victims of this flood of the century. The earmarked donations received resulted in the sum of around CHF 61,000, mainly thanks to an exceptionally large individual donation. This amount was transferred to the Swiss Red Cross.
Famine in South Sudan, 2017
In February 2017 the UN declared a famine in South Sudan. At the end of 2013, after only two years of peace and hope for a better time, violence escalated again in this young nation, founded in 2011. Over three million people had to flee their villages. Subsequently the land remained uncultivated and a period of drought aggravated the situation for the population. During the Easter celebration of GL Zürich, on its website as well as in the journal “Geistige Welt”, Hilfswerk GL Zürich appealed for donations for the suffering population. Approximately CHF 32,000 was raised and transferred to the Swiss Red Cross.
Aid for war refugees from Syria
Since November 2012, Hilfswerk GL Zürich has collected donations for war refugees from Syria. Until autumn 2014, the earmarked donations were transferred to the Swiss Red Cross which helped refugee families in Jordan. Because of the continuing crises in the Near East, Hilfswerk GL Zürich has changed its commitment to the Syrian population to one of regular support (without special fundraising appeals). Consequently, and since November 2014, we now support a project of Médecins Sans Frontières for the primary health care and humanitarian aid of the civilian population in Syria as well as the refugees in Iraq.
Earthquake in Nepal, April 2015
The devastating earthquake on 25 April 2015, and numerous aftershocks caused ruin and immense suffering to the population of Nepal. Hilfswerk GL Zürich appealed for a special collection at events held by GL Zürich, via the internet and the journal Geistige Welt for the affected brothers and sisters in the Himalayas. The exceptionally high amount of CHF 95,000 was raised and transferred to the Swiss Red Cross (SRC), which, together with the Nepalese Red Cross, provided on-location emergency aid. For many years, the SRC has been committed to Nepal and engaged in extensive programs for the improvement of the living conditions of deprived population groups.
Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, winter 2013/2014
On 8 November 2013, the devastating typhoon Haiyan tore across the central Philippine group of islands, Visayas, destroying several towns and hundreds of villages. Millions of people became homeless and were in urgent need of aid. Hilfswerk GL Zürich appealed for special donations for the typhoon’s victims on the occasion of GL Zürich’s services, on the internet, and in the journal “Geistige Welt”. The sum of CHF 31,200 was collected and transferred to the Swiss Red Cross, which, together with the Philippine Red Cross, provided emergency relief on site.
Drought in Somalia: Help for Somalian refugees in Dadaab Camp (Kenya), summer 2011
In spring and summer 2011, the Horn of Africa experienced its heaviest draught in 60 years. More than 13 million people suffered from hunger and thirst. For weeks, thousands of Somalians fled across the boarders into neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia. In the face of the human catastrophe, Hilfswerk GL Zürich made fundraising appeals for those suffering from hunger at the services of GL Zürich as well as via the internet and in the journal “Geistige Welt”. The emergency project of Médecins Sans Frontières in the Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya, was selected and CHF 41,691 was raised.
Earthquake- and Tsunami-Catastrophes in Japan, March 2011
The great suffering of Japan’s population was a matter of concern to GL Zürich; it wished to show compassion for the victims and help ease their distress. On the occasion of the Saturday evening service at GL Zürich on 20 March 2011, CHF 21,625 was raised and transferred to the Swiss Red Cross, which in turn supports its sister organization, the Japanese Red Cross, in its relief efforts.
Flood Catastrophe in Pakistan, August 2010
In August 2010, Hilfswerk GL Zürich organized a collection for the flood victims in Pakistan, collecting CHF 35,779.50. This sum was rounded up to CHF 40,000 and transferred to the Swiss Red Cross, which participated in the large-scale relief operation of the International Red Cross Federation.
Earthquake in Haiti, January 2010
In January 2010, Hilfswerk GL Zürich requested donations to aid earthquake victims in Haiti. An amount of CHF 53,815.50 was raised and transferred to the Swiss organization “Bündner Partnerschaft Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, Haiti”, which supports the hospital in Haiti with staff, material, medical equipment, and medicine.
Considering the enormous poverty in Haiti and the medical emergency, Hilfswerk GL Zürich also decided to support Hôpital Albert Schweitzer on a long-term basis and placed it on its list of selected relief organizations (see Hôpital Albert Schweitzer).