Michaela Merz

Each year

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I wrote until my fingers were sore – nectarine jam, peach jam, forest berry jam, melon-lemon-banana jam, strawberry jam. Yes, us tax people did another round of jam making and cookie backing. ‘God this smells good!’ I thought to myself for the entire afternoon, especially, because I hadn’t managed to eat breakfast or lunch. But I was able to resist the temptation and didn’t even nick the smallest morsel.

All of us – that is over 40 people – tried to help someone in need, who we didn’t know and who we probably won’t ever meet. We chopped fresh, ripe fruit and cooked them down to smooth jelly and jam, baked ‘Spitzbuben (Swiss Christmas biscuits) and other goodies.

All of this was to be sold at relatively modest prices at several markets. For instance, a glass of jam cost three Swiss franks. The jam at Migros is more expensive and certainly hasn’t been created manually and with lots of love.  The money that was collected, is used for a variety of projects of the charity REACH Switzerland. However, it is mainly used for building and running schools in the North of Thailand.

I started folding the bags for the biscuits. Whilst completing this task I was able to listen to the head of operations. The history of the villagers surrounding the schools, specific school kids, the poverty but also the sheer will were impressive and at the same time depressing. Then I got assigned to the jam labelling group. This required the highest level of concentration because otherwise there was the risk that I would skip some letters or that there would end up being too many of some of them.

This afternoon we managed to produce something great out of the vast quantity of raw materials, to package them, to label them and to add prices to them. In the evening the whole team sat in the garden of a local pizza place and we enjoyed the evening together. After a day where we didn’t just spend time delving into letters and numbers (what us tax people normally do), but where we did something that tasted good, that you could touch or bite into and that gave us the pleasant feeling, that we weren’t just thinking of ourselves but also about someone whom we didn’t even know.

I’m very proud of my people, of my team. It is easy to expect that you do something for the climate, for the weak and the disadvantaged. It is however a lot more demanding to actually put this into practice. And just as the past five years, we managed it again, for all of us to pull on the same rope and to help make a difference. Thanks to my team, for having participated. This is also one of the reasons why I enjoy coming to work every morning. It’s a lot of fun with this team.

By the way, you can do the same. http://reach.ch/ – the projects are introduced on this link. You don’t have to cook jam. Donating money works too. Or you could buy our jam and use it as a gift. I’m sure this would be very well received.

A big thank you to Olivier Comment from PwC Lausanne for these great pictures.

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