This is really off topic, but we feel very strong about this post. For a big company it is an easy-to-bear burden to spend some money and man power for charity. However making a positive, sustainable impact on the lives of the children in a small village is not easy as this needs a lot of planning, local-knowledge, devotion and above all a big and strong heart. Over the past three years we have been able to support and follow the work of Marianne Doetzer, who dedicated her life to help children and people in Benin, Africa in order to enable them to live better and happier lives.
How it all began…
A few years ago, one of our employees (Andy Trautwein), discovered a small article in one of the local newspapers in Poing where EBV’s headquarter is located. The text with the headline “10 years of World Toilet Day” (editor’s note: every 19th Nov.) drew his attention as it stated that 2.6 billion people have no access to hygienic sanitation. Benin was mentioned as one of the countries where the situation is very critical as even schools do not have any sanitary facilities. The missing hygiene is a reason for diseases like hepatitis, typhus and others which can be life-threatingen especially for children. At the end of the article were the details of a bank account for donations along with some contact information: Marianne Doetzer of the WEMA HOME e.V.
Employees of EBV’s purchasing department did not hesitate to take money out of the piggy bank (originally saved for candy) at the office to help the project and sponsor the first toilet (see below).
Ms. Doetzer proofed her creativity and dedication selling give-aways EBV provided to her at a small market to turn them into something of more value.
A second bathroom was built and it was further possible to create a job for a person who is in charge of the maintenance of the sanitations.
A Place to Sit
Shortly after the second bathroom was built, Ms. Doetzer hopped on a plane to manage another project, which was the set-up of benches in the class-rooms of a school as well as a third sanitary building. This project helped again to create some new jobs. We could describe it more but the pictures below express best how the benches have been perceived…
Viewing the World through different Eyes
Sitting down on a bench definitely improves the concentration and ability to follow the school lessons but how to keep track if you don’t see correctly and you don’t have the money for glasses? Again it was an EBV employee who read a newspaper and got an idea for the solution. The concept was to tinker glasses for as low as $1 in the affected countries. Again, Ms. Doetzer took on the project and the plan was developed to train the people in Benin to built their own glasses.
A Win-Win-Situation: Free coffee – glasses for the people in Benin! Next to our coffee makers we installed a piggy bank to sponsor the first starter kits to build glasses. Ms. Doetzer needs three of those kits for the north, middle and south regions of the country to provide the help to as many people as possible.
The Woman behind the Help
Marianne Doetzer went to Togo and Dahomey (later called Benin) for the German Development Service (DED). After working in a hospital in Savalou she went to Gobada in 1968 where she was in charge of the first-aid station of the village. At the beginning the local people were very sceptical but following the advise of an elderly woman Ms. Doetzer asked for some land which she started to work on. Showing the locals that she was able to use her own hands and to work hard she was accepted by the village.
Taking care of the ill wasn’t enough anymore and Ms. Doetzer started a volleyball team in the village. The team made an astonishing 3rd place in the national championship. In 1972 the small country participated in the Olympics in Munich for the first time. The money was barley enough to send two athletes to Germany with no third assistant to carry the flag and walk in front of them. Therefor Ms. Doetzer was chosen to represent the team together with the two boxers from Benin.
Returning to Germany in the early 70s, Ms. Doetzer was trained as camera assistant and worked as freelancer for the Bavarian television. After 15 years, in 1987, she finally went back to Benin and visited the village she lived in. Ever since she focuses on helping the people in Africa under the motto “help for self-help”. In 2011 Ms. Doetzer received the environmental award “Trophèe de femmes” from Yves Rocher.
We want to say thank you Ms. Doetzer for managing all these projects and helping EBV to make an positive impact in Benin over the last years!
A special thanks goes out to all EBV employees who who helped and donated for the projects.
For more pictures click here.