Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Children take to the streets for charity

Shoe-shining in Lausanne: For some children an insight into what others do daily Keystone

Swiss children are experiencing street life at first hand to mark this year's International Day of Child Rights on Monday.

By doing odd jobs in the street, they are raising money for the Terre des hommes child relief foundation and showing solidarity with those less fortunate in the developing world.

About 4,600 children from around Switzerland are taking part in a number of activities that mirror what their contemporaries do every day in for example Peru, Romania and Senegal.

Terre des hommes, which is based in Lausanne in western Switzerland, invites them to shine shoes, clean windscreens, sell trinkets or run errands for a couple of hours.

They put themselves into the skin of children who elsewhere live in a street situation.

Easily recognizable by their orange woolly hats, the children – some already worked on Swiss streets on Saturday – are distributing an advertising magazine edited specially for the occasion.


For the first time, they are asking passers-by how much they know about child rights which the United Nations made part of the Convention of Child Rights exactly 17 years ago.

Terre des hommes hopes that the activities will make passers-by, adults and children aware of the problems of street children in poor countries.

For this national action Terre des hommes contacts the children of Switzerland through their teachers, leaders of youth groups or youth workers interested in joining in with their pupils or groups.

The funds collected all go to the foundation’s projects for street children in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Burundi, Guinea, Romania, Senegal and Vietnam.

In 2005, the operation collected nearly SFr200,000 ($160,770) for Terre des hommes programmes.

swissinfo with agencies

Terre des hommes assists street children in nine countries. According to the NGO, between 50 to 100 million children live and work on city streets throughout the world.

Most of these children have become marginalised due to growing inequalities, greater urbanisation and the break-up of social networks such as the family, school or workplace.

Since it was formed in 1960 by Edmond Kaiser, Terre des hommes’ mission has centred on helping children.

The organisation defends the rights of children affected by conflicts, natural disasters or other difficult situations.

Over time Terre des hommes has specialised in three fields: health, social work and children’s rights.

Today it is the largest Swiss non-governmental organisation assisting children and is currently running development projects in 28 countries and emergency projects in three countries.

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR