In 2019, our global Community Hero in the category "Better Health for our Planet" is Ezio Riva from Italy.
Four years ago, the death of a homeless person in Italy motivated Ezio and a group of friends to start an initiative supporting those in need – in a sustainable way. Every Thursday, they distribute hot homemade food and drinks, clothes as well as hygiene products to around 150 homeless people in Milan. For both ethical and ecological reasons, they only cook vegan dishes and distribute food from sustainable sources and eco-friendly supplies. This initiative helps both homeless people and our planet.
"We have embraced the vegan philosophy of life as a mission to improve our world: It is our goal to make the world more liveable and beautiful for humans - and for the animals that are part of it. The people we help with our organisation do not have any place to go. By cooking vegan food and providing them with personal items such as clothes and sleeping bags, we are able to make at least a small contribution to their well-being - and this fills us with joy! I am always delighted to see how we have established a beautiful friendship with some of our clients. Even if we only make a small contribution to a more pleasant life, we believe that our work can make a difference for the homeless people of Milan."
EZIO RIVA, ITALY
In 2019, our Community Hero in the category "Better Health for our Patients" is Cécile Fauvel from France.
As a committed hiker, it's a great pleasure for our colleague Cécile from France to volunteer with a non-profit association that enables people with disabilities to experience the joy of hiking. The concept: with a type of all-terrain wheelchair and the help of manpower, patients can experience great outdoor activities such as visiting the mountains. Volunteers need both physical strength as well as mental resilience.
"For me, it is the most exciting to share what I like with other people: Hiking is essential for my balanced life, and I'm just happy to experience this incredible hobby with other people. It doesn't matter whether they are handicapped or not, we all can enjoy the world's pure nature. Hiking with a "joelette" (an open sedan chair or litter with a single wheel) is very physical. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. However, we are all together, we help each other, and we all put our common strength behind the goal: When the landscape is fairly flat, we are two non-handicapped people per "joelette" - but when it gets steep, two more people come to support and the energy is multiplied. During our hikes, I give everything I have: my time, my legs, my arms. But in the end, I always get so much back. This kind of experience makes me grow every time. To see, how those handicapped people are courageous, in a good mood and don't give up is a great lesson for life".
CÉCILE FAUVEL, FRANCE
In 2019, our Community Hero in the category "Better Health for our Communities" is Lukas Jantschik from Germany.
Street children often have no prospects: Lukas from Germany wanted to make a difference. So, together with his family he founded a training centre in Nepal for those in need. The children receive a full education as tailors, carpenters, metal workers and other crafts. For this purpose, the organisation pays master craftsmen who lead the apprenticeship. The aim: enabling young people to engage in an independent and self-determined life.
"What I liked the most about my volunteering activity is to see what difference I can make – even with seemingly small things in life. I love to see the potential of the children and teenagers unfold once they get the chance to do so. However, volunteering in a country like Nepal is not always easy. The most challenging thing about the project was the huge difference between our and the Nepalese culture. For me, personally, it is extremely important to not impose my cultural beliefs and values on anyone. We want to help the people, but at the same time we must do it in a way where we respect the culture and values of Nepal. In the beginning of my volunteering work, I had to fight and negotiate for every inch of progress – this sometimes gets very tedious and frustrating. But seeing the great results and the progress we make made me realize that the final product is definitely worth all the work we do and all the nights with little sleep."
LUKAS JANTSCHIK, GERMANY