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Filipinos in Switzerland celebrate International Migrants Day by holding a “Day of Gratitude to Switzerland”

In keeping with the International Migrants Day celebration on 18th December, Filipinos across Switzerland held “A Day of Gratitude to Switzerland”, as a show of their appreciation to the Swiss public for their expression of solidarity with the Philippines and the assistance they have extended to the victims of typhoon Haiyan.

The Day of Gratitude took place exactly a month after the National Day of Solidarity with the Philippines was held, during which the foundation Swiss Solidarity, in cooperation with Swiss public television and radio, SRG SSR, launched a telethon fund-raising campaign to help the typhoon victims in the Philippines. A total of CHF16 Million was raised during the day.

Filipinos in various cantons across the country, including Berne and Geneva, participated in the event, which was held from 5 pm to 7 pm.

Photos:( 1)  Filipinos in Berne participate in the Day of Gratitude to Switzerland:
 (2) Ambassador Leslie Baja joins the Filipinos in Berne as they sing  Christmas carols to Swiss commuters

In Berne, the Filipinos handed out thank you cards to passers-by while serenading them with Christmas songs and giving them home-baked cookies. Several Filipinos, including children and young adults, wearing placards showing “Danke Schweiz” walked along the bahnhof area, greeting and thanking people they met. Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie Baja and other members of the Philippine Embassy supported the event with their presence.   

Photos (L-R): Information Stand displays the banner, flyers and give-away home-baked cookies; Swiss commuters happily receive thank you cards from Filipinos

In Geneva, similar activities were held in front of Metro Shopping Gare Cornavin and Place du Molard. Filipinos handed out flyers showing “Merci La Suisse” and free sweets and pastries to passers-by as a token of their appreciation for the support the Swiss public have extended to the typhoon victims. Officials from the Philippine Mission led by Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Cecilia Rebong, were also present during the event. Ms. Catherine Baud-Lavigne, Deputy Manager for External Affairs of Swiss Solidarity was also present.

Photos:( 1)  Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva Ambassador Cecilia Rebong with the Filipinos in Geneva; (2) Officials of the Philippine Mission with Filipino participants at the Day of Gratitude

A poster showing “Merci Suisse” was flashed on television screens inside public trams and buses in Geneva on the same day.

“Thank you” sign is shown on tv screen in public transport in Geneva

Switzerland is currently home to more than 10,000 Filipinos, who are employed in different sectors, from the professional and technical staff working in the United Nations and various international organizations in Geneva to those employed by foreign missions in Berne, either as local hires at the missions or as domestic staff at the residences of members of the diplomatic community.

Photos (L-R): thank you card distributed in Berne; poster and flyer design used in Geneva

Switzerland was one of the earliest to respond following typhoon Haiyan. A day after the typhoon struck, the Swiss government immediately sent a team of experts through the Swiss Humanitarian Assistance (SHA) to typhoon-hit areas. To date, the Swiss government has provided CHF6 Million worth of assistance, CHF3 to 4 Million of which will be used for relief efforts and the remaining CHF 2 to 3 Million to support Switzerland’s multilateral partners such as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Earlier, Switzerland also extended CHF250,000 worth of assistance to the earthquake victims in Bohol and Cebu.

Apart from the assistance extended by the Swiss federal government, various cantons and cities also donated more than CHF 1 Million to the typhoon victims.

The Swiss business community has also been doing its fund-raising activities for the victims of the typhoon. Swiss bank UBS through its Optimus Foundation, has established an Emergency Rapid Fund for the victims of typhoon Haiyan. Client donations for the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines up to CHF 3MN will be matched by UBS. Numerous Swiss companies also gave generously for the typhoon victims, such as retail supermarkets Migros and Coop, which donated CHF1 Million each through Swiss Solidarity and mining giant Glencore which gave CHF2 Million.

Most of the donations from Swiss companies and the general public have been coursed through Swiss Solidarity. To date, donations coursed through the foundation have reached a running total of CHF 37, 225, 703.00.

Apart from donations coursed through Swiss Solidarity, donations have also been funnelled through Caritas Schweiz, the Swiss Red Cross, the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund (Fastenopfer), the Catholic community in which majority of Filipinos in Switzerland are active, and other Swiss NGOs actively working in the Philippines such as Heks, Solidar, Terre des Hommes, Mediar, Handicap International, Médicins sans Frontière, CBM Blindenmission, and Adra.

Various fund-raising activities by the Filipino expatriate community have raised approximately over CHF 500,000.00. The amount does not include similar fund-raising campaigns by other expatriate communities and the Catholic community across Switzerland.

Apart from these cash donations, donations in-kind have also continuously been sent to the Philippines to date.

As Ambassador Baja said in his radio interview with World Radio Switzerland on 17 December, this day of gratitude is a way of thanking the Swiss population who have always been a friend indeed to a friend in need. END


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