It is easier to moan about the world falling apart than to roll up one’s own sleeves and do something about it. I have the astounding good fortune to work with people, who, as I do, think that we should return something to this world. In our team we had a democratic vote: Do we want a fun afternoon at the fair or to do something similar or do we want to do something for others: the result was clear, the majority was of the opinion that we should help. It would be a lie to say that our team is about to be canonised and that all had voted for the charitable work, No, but the majority did and the minority also accepted the democratic decision and joined in.
And so two weeks ago we sat in a bus on the way to Ringgenberg. We drove into an idyllic village with an astonishingly large school kitchen. Our aim: to make as much jam as only humanly possible and to bake so many Guetzli that we could not keep up with the packaging. We were almost 50 people and with so many one can achieve a lot in an afternoon. This year we have worked for REACH Schweiz. REACH means Render Effective Aid to Children and stands for a relief organisation in Switzerland, which with a group of committed people helps children and youths in need. With the operation of a hostel 60 children of mountain farmers in Thailand are given the opportunity to attend the attached school. REACH also supports in three refugee camps schools, in order to offer about 1,000 Burmese children and youths a perspective. In Mae Sot an apprentice and student hostel was completed in 2017 and in Tanzania REACH operates an agricultural school, where 55 male and female students can complete a training in agriculture, in timber processing and in sewing.
Our team was split up into bakers, jam and syrup makers. There was a preparation room, which washed and cut up everything and the packers. I landed with the packers, because it was not so popular as making and baking, but someone had to do it. The kitchen smelled wonderful and the longer we worked, the better it smelled: of ripe fruit, of fresh sweet pastry, of jam. There was a lot of laughter and work. Everybody really rolled up their sleeves and as soon as someone had no more work, he looked for something else to do. We succeeded in baking and packaging 20kg Guetzli. In addition out of 5kg strawberries, 2kg plums, 2kg elderberries, 7.5kg wild berries, 2.5kg raspberries, 10kg peaches, 6.5kg nectarines and 9 melons we made about 80kg jam and reduced 5kg raspberries and 2.5kg elderberries to syrup.
In our rather small group of packers, at first I folded the bags but I soon moved up to the group of labellers. You have to know which jam is in the jar and what such a jar costs. When folding the bags, I could join in the conversation and laughter, but when labelling I fell silent. It sounds easy to write a 100 times “mixed berries jam”, but you have to concentrate in order to string together the correct letters in the correct number. Suddenly, the packers could not keep up. The whole team had produced so many goods. The free hands from the kitchen moved to the packaging table and so we not only succeeded in making and baking huge quantities, but in packaging, labelling and making everything ready for transport.
The best of the whole initiative was that it made so much fun. It is a pleasure to do something for someone else and at the same to feel so great. I hope that the all the jars of jam and all the bags with the pastry are sold and the money benefits the children in Thailand, who really need it. These children have only a few opportunities for the future, we have the whole world at our feet. And if you too want to make a contribution, send a little money to REACH, in order to build a new school or sponsor a child, to create greater perspectives for these under-privileged children.