The Lufthansa Group’s aid organization was founded in 1999. What started out as a spontaneous employee initiative is now an acclaimed charity.
It all began with a small ad, a mere 5 by 10 cm, in the staff magazine Lufthanseat: Two of the airline’s employees were looking for colleagues to join them in helping the disadvantaged around the world. The 13 people who attended the first meeting set up an organization. And because Lufthansa had co-founded the Star Alliance in 1997, picking a name was easy: HelpAlliance e. V. – Lufthanseaten engagieren sich.
Twenty years have passed since then, and the organization has become a charity, called help alliance for short. To date, 17 million euros have been donated – used to fund 50 projects in Africa, a greater number in Asia, around 20 in South America and more than ten in Europe. The network has become steadily wider too: Nearly 23 000 people have benefited since help alliance was set up.
Help alliance has supported the construction or renovation of schools, hospitals and kitchens. It funded the purchase of a solar panel system for a village clinic and rescue vehicles for street kids; it has set up sponsorships for orphans. It has organized charity soccer matches, book bazaars, an aircraft washing contest. One of the members designed a limited edition wristwatch that was sold in aid of the charity. Another competed in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii and collected donations, and yet another was made a chief in Nigeria in gratitude for his help. One of the charity’s biggest successes was its aid effort for the survivors of the tsunami in Southeast Asia: in 2005, help alliance collected an astonishing 1.07 million euros, including the 14 000 work hours donated for relief missions by 5000 Lufthansa staff.
The roots of help alliance lie in the Lufthansa workforce, and staff continue to initiate projects. The voluntary work of the airline’s staff with all their diverse skills has built an alliance that enables disadvantaged people all around the world to live an independent, self-determined life thanks to education.
Mr. Morales, what gave you the idea for this project?
In 2014, I traveled to Brazil for the first time with my Brazilian fiancée. The poverty in her native village was truly shocking. While walking around with her cousin, Anderson Couthino, with whom I now run the institute, we came up with an idea how to get the kids off the street: a youth center that unites education and sports. I submitted the project to help alliance, and I am incredibly grateful for their support. As an active boxer myself, I know just what an integrative effect sports can have.
So how can boxing help?
Boxing can give people a new, empowering perspective. If you step into the ring you’re up there all on your own and you have to prove yourself. It’s like fighting against hunger or hopelessness. In boxing almost more so than any other sport, you learn that violence is pointless. If I get angry, I lose my focus and start taking punches. And also, if you’ve been training hard, you lack the energy to think about getting into trouble.
Before they can box, your charges have to attend lessons…
Yes, this combination is at the core of our work. Anyone who wants can join us – but only on the condition that they attend classes and do their homework. English is particularly essential because only few people here have had the chance to learn the language. We also teach them skills they can use to earn money later on in life. Some of our boys learned to operate a printing press and some can now make a living from this work.
What are your plans for the future?
We are fully committed to keeping the institute up and running. Recently, we offered guitar classes and a DJing course. And the make-up artist from Vogue Brazil demonstrated to them what his job involves. We would like to offer activities like this more frequently. But primarily, we want to be able to give each child a hot meal every day.
… Lufthansa employees got together to set up the help alliance charity in 1999.
… million euros have been spent on funding these projects.
… euros is what a uniform costs; in many countries, children cannot attend school without one.
… projects have received support and funding from help alliance since it was founded.
“Giving people a new perspective”
With the aid of the help alliance charity, Raiko Morales runs a youth center and boxing school in Brazil
Safety Officer, Lufthansa Technik Hamburg, Group Occupational Safety