Being a mother of three children, Barbara Hofmann started her humanitarian journey at the age of 27 in Mozambique. She majored in Business and Finance in Switzerland and was working in banking and with multinational businesses. In 1989, she visited Beira in Mozambique during wartime. After seeing the reality of what the children there faced, she decided to set up ASEM (Association for the Children of Mozambique). She then sold all her belongings and devoted her life to the children there.
In 1990, Barbara prepared a project proposal to create a Children Center in Beira. Because of the necessity of having such and organization established locally, she negotiated with the government to get the necessary permissions for the project in areas regarding cooperation, social affairs, education, health, etc). She also had to deal with local officials to obtain the land for building a centre for child victims of war – orphans and abandoned children.
In 14 years, she has successfully set up ASEM branches in Swiss (1991), Portugal (1995), New York (1995), Mozambique (1999), Italy Onlus (1999) and Canada (2005). Since its inception, Barbara has worked on a voluntary basis and remained fully dedicated to the children of Mozambique. Over the years, ASEM has helped over 20,000 children.
In 2001, Barbara contracted the most severe form of cerebral malaria that reduced her lungs function to 1% while her liver and kidneys function were down to 3% only. She had a near death experience as she was laying in a coma for one month with her vital functions dependent on dialysis, respirator, transfusion and antibiotics. She was discharged from the hospital in a wheelchair after 3 months.
Before the incident, Barbara was running and organizing all ASEM’s activities personally in collaboration with her Mozambican staff. When Barbara got sick, her staff took over the activities and are managing ASEM until today. After surviving a near death condition, she has changed her role in ASEM and is now involved in psychological support to children and young people, training of senior staff members, fundraising, public relations, representing ASEM nationally and internationally, supervising financial management and general development of ASEM’s operations. She is also responsible for creating different micro-economic structures in Mozambique to ensure the future economic sustainability of ASEM activities.
With her ever-lasting efforts, in Mozambique she has built and opened three children homes and two schools, two of which are in Beira and one in Gorongoza. Recently she has also built a community centre in Vilankulo, comprising a pre-primary school, an art & culture center and a theatre.
To improve mankind, Barbara engages with children and young adults living in extreme poverty, to promote their re-integration into their family and the community. In a nutshell, one could depict Barbara as the spokesperson for the ones without voice. She regularly presents the needs of the local community to the local authorities, including the provincial and central government. The tangible proof of her dedication is the persistence with which she pleads for support on behalf of the people, where the government doors often stay closed.
Barbara’s work has an important impact for the community, as the families that could not shelter or feed their children found support to provide for the remaining family members. In addition, thousands of orphans were rescued from the streets; they were freed from the high probability of becoming thieves, criminals, prostitutes and victims of human trafficking. A great number of these children are now adults with a vocational career, and some of them have a university degree. They have achieved good living conditions and contribute to uplifting other community members as well as to the development of their villages of origin.
Barbara offers more than just a shelter to the children in Mozambique as she also changes their destinies. The changes she brought to Beira have seeded a whole new future for this place. For her tireless effort and devotion to her cause, Barbara Hofmann was bestowed with the title of THE ONE 2013.
Click on the photos below to find out more about other finalists of THE ONE 2014.
點擊下面圖片，查看更多2014 THE ONE入圍者：