“Every step counts”

Help Alliance

Interview

  • INTERVIEW MORITZ HERRMANN

Sustainable help: Vivian Spohr, 41, ­patron of the help alliance, talks about the aims and vision of the aid organization, which was founded in 1999 by Lufthansa employees

What is the objective of the help alliance?

The help alliance primarily focuses on providing aid in developing countries, helping people who have no access to education and hence little chance of decent vocational training. By doing this, the organization is helping to fight poverty. The help alliance also supports integration projects in Germany for citizens with an immigrant background. You could say that the objective of the help alliance is to empower people to help themselves.

How do you select the projects and programs you support?

First, we ensure that they are sustainable and make sense. Most projects pass this test. However, the big difference between the help alliance and many other aid organizations is that the staff who submit project applications are also prepared to manage and monitor the program. This active commitment from volunteers makes the help alliance unique and it demonstrates the organization’s integrity.

As the organization’s patron, what is your special focus?

I believe that the profile of the help alliance could be boosted outside the Lufthansa Group, and with it the amount of donations it receives. I hope that I can make a contribution here.

You regularly visit the projects. Is there any one aspect or experience that left a lasting impression?

When we visit our programs, we are told by the people benefiting from them, particularly children and young people, how much it means to them and how grateful they are, which is always very touching. You realize just how important local aid is. This is inspiring and motivating. Aid very often affects change in tiny steps.

Does this frustrate you?

No, not at all. Even the smallest step takes us closer to the long-term goal.

© Jens Görlich

For more information on help alliance and its projects such as the iThemba preschool in a township near Cape Town, read our reportage on the School of hope.