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"So that every child can get to know their roots"

Young Swiss children at a camp with Circolino Pipistrello in Hergiswil. Roger von der Crone/sjas

For a century, the Foundation for Young Swiss Abroad (FYSA) has made it possible for children with Swiss roots to spend their holidays in Switzerland. The foundation’s CEO, Loic Roth, spoke with swissinfo.ch and portrayed some of the camp participants.​​​​​​​

This content was published on August 17, 2017 - 11:00
Christian Raaflaub, Hergiswil LU, swissinfo.ch/jmh

The foundation was created during in 1917, before the end of the First World War, to give Swiss children living in disaster-torn places abroad a few tranquil weeks back home living with host families.

Then in the 1960s, the foundation organised the first holiday camps for children who are among the hundreds of thousands of Swiss citizens living in another country. There are now almost 760,000 Swiss abroad, either temporarily or permanently.

"The goal remains the same for us even after 100 years: every child, irrespective of the financial situation of the family, is given the opportunity to come to Switzerland and get to know its roots," Roth said.

Some children form lifelong friendships with other Swiss at the two-week camps, Roth emphasised, and as a result “there are children who then organize themselves together to be together in a camp next year."

About half the children who attend the camps return for more, and Roth sees another positive trend with all the camps full for the past five consecutive years. Some 400 children with Swiss roots took part in seven camps or a trip through Switzerland. They came from more than 50 countries, and some were helped by money from the foundation.

Video portraits capture some of the children’s enthusiasm at the camps, including those attending a circus camp at Hergiswil, in central Switzerland, for eight- to 12-year-olds that was run in cooperation with Circolino Pipistrello.


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