Nine most frequently asked questions about the origins of the movement :
1- Why set up yet another humanitarian organisation ? There are already so many!
2- How is Vivere different from other organizations ? Who benefits from your actions?
3- Doesn’t Vivere cover too many different areas?
4- What are your priorities ? How do you choose?
5- How and with whom do you work?
6- Where does the money come from ? Can we trust your management?
7- How much of the budget goes to administrative costs?
8- What is your attitude toward the media?
9- Who are you?
1. Why set up yet another humanitarian organisation ? There are already so many!
There are many organisations, and yet :
The WFP recognizes that one person dies of hunger every 4 seconds somewhere in the world.
The annual reports of Amnesty International and the OMCT , for example, show that every year hundreds of people die or are seriously mutilated by torture or awful treatment inflicted in a great number of countries. Of course these reports reflect only the known cases…
In France, as in Spain, to name but two so-called “developed” countries, an average of one woman per day is beaten to death by her husband, and several others are seriously injured in incidents of conjugal violence.
Ethnic or inter-communal hatred kills many innocent victims daily on every continent.
The average life expectancy of children living in the streets of large South American cities is 20 years.
The suicide rate of young people in Switzerland is among the highest in the world.
These are just a few aspects of modern reality which we can cite from a very long and tragic list showing that human life is sacrificed on a large scale in countless situations around the world. And the situation persists, despite the deployment of existing organisations, both governmental and non-governmental, international humanitarian agencies, charitable works, etc. So we cannot say that there are too many organisations working to save and protect the lives of innocent victims – on the contrary, there are not enough..
2. How is Vivere different from other organisations?
Vivere applies no criteria of sex, nationality or religion in its effort to save a human being who has been identified as a victim of unacceptable discrimination endangering his or her life. Once the person is identified, he or she must be provided with the means to ensure his or her survival. The means required are often quite minimal : medication, petrol for an evacuation, a simple shelter away from a hostile environment, basic food rations, etc. In other cases, of course, the necessary resources may represent a much higher investment.
The individual is of prime concern, his or her right to live takes priority over all other considerations.
Far from abstract notions, group theories, statistics, probabilities and generalities, Vivere works for individuals, with a given name and surname, a personal history and a destiny which is threatened by immediate danger. Each one of these people, like each one of us, has the inalienable and most fundamental right to not lose their life to violence, iniquity or unconcern.
3. Doesn’t Vivere cover too many different areas?
There is only one central theme : no one should lose his life due to cruelty, restrictions on aid or basic care, abandonment, lethal or mutilating customs and rituals, or the negligence or laxity of those who are supposed to ensure the protection of the population. No modern system of justice has – in theory – ever tolerated that people die under such conditions. Hence the single theme based on a single justice. Attacks on human life may take many forms, but they are fundamentally the same violation. Vivere will never claim to be able to resolve all of these tragedies, but they all underlie the mission and inspiration of the organisation.
Within the limits of its powers, this movement seeks to bring a concrete response to human catastrophes in such instances.
4. What are your priorities ? How do you choose?
We strongly believe in setting an example : supporting even just one good project can help inspire other similar efforts, initiated by other actors who take notice of our example and who find extra resources to reproduce results benefiting other endangered persons.
When a valid project is identified for its serious potential, Vivere seeks to quickly gather the means and set up useful partnerships for getting the project off the ground. It is the combination of these elements which determines the priorities.
In the case of two good projects which both aim to re-establish the fundamental right to life, the problem of ranking in terms of choice or priorities rarely arises as such : one human life is of equal value as another, saving that life demands the same urgency and energy. So we must try to respond positively to both projects. The main obstacle which risks forcing a choice or limits is the absence of an indispensable element : either the resources or a reliable partner.
5. How and with whom do you work ?
The work consists of a series of relatively simple acts calling upon ordinary procedures : to treat, comfort, give hope, shelter, feed, protect, defend. The working environment is often difficult : repression, obscurantism, armed violence, racial hostility, material destitution, criminality, contempt, indifference.
Most often, the staff of Vivere does not lead and manage the operational projects on site. We provide support to professionals and small local organisations which are already active or in a position to become rapidly operational, to help persons in danger. This support takes different forms depending on the needs expressed by our partners : often financial, or methodological, organisational, activist, information campaigns, etc. The annual contribution to a project is limited to a maximum of CHF 15,000 (approx. US $10,000), and must represent a significant share of the concerned budget. This key standard makes obvious the humble scope of our commitments, but it also reveals our way of working with small entities which are better suited to handle direct local action. The managers of Vivere go in the field to establish contacts, to conduct investigations, identifications and verifications of conditions and the results of the joint commitment.
In some 15 foreign countries, the founders have established contacts with potential partners for Vivere : doctors, lawyers, social workers, human rights activists, modest civil organisations, etc. This network of contacts and collaboration will gradually be expanded as we grow in strength.
6. Where does the money come from ? Can we trust your management?
Vivere relies mainly on the generosity of the general public, individual or corporate benefactors, donors who are sensitive to the distinctive definition of this movement and its close proximity to the persons identified as being at risk. Vivere acts as a link between those who have a vital need and those who have the material means to respond to that need. Money is obviously indispensable, but other forms of solidarity also play a major role : volunteers, donations of goods, free services.
Vivere of course has obligations to its donors : the obligation of respect, of information, and to be accountable under all circumstances. We are deeply committed to fulfilling these obligations.
The budgets & accounts of the movement are fully and permanently available to any member of the public wishing to review them for honest purposes. Vivere must ensure the total transparency of its management.
Continual strict control over management is one of the cornerstones of this movement, and we uphold this principle at all times.
7. How much of the budget goes to administrative costs and salaries?
Certain organisations have been known to devote excessive amounts to their lifestyle and their more or less productive bureaucracy. It is easy enough to check at any time that Vivere functions under spartan conditions in this area.
Yet, all organisations have a duty to be properly administrated and therefore to devote the necessary resources to its functioning. A neglected administration leads to wasted energy and resources.
Salaries : the budget of Vivere provides for a salary of 4,500 CHF net per month for a fulltime permanent employee in Switzerland. However, we will function on a totally volunteer basis so long as this budget is not covered by specific resources.
In our field of work, the participation of qualified people often represents a large share of rescue and protection work. For example : no surgery can be performed without a surgeon, no legal defense can be mounted without a lawyer, no escape from distress can be found without the help of a social worker. At Vivere and among its partners, the salaries are kept to a minimum, both for ethical reasons and out of respect for our donors; but salaries should not be considered disdainfully as “parasitic administrative expenses”: a salary enables talented, committed persons to make an indispensable contribution to saving endangered persons.
We hope to keep expenses for salaries + administration + missions abroad far under 20% of the total resources deployed.
8. What is your attitude toward the media?
The media are a means, not an end. They make the link with the general public, and so Vivere calls upon the media to communicate as widely as possible, to inform people of its struggle for important causes.
Our interaction with the media should always be straightforward and forceful.
Depending on the nature of the risk suffered by others, the personal situation or other elements of a confidential nature, Vivere guarantees utmost discretion to those concerned.
9. Who are you?
The people who organise this movement have extensive experience in operating aid programs in complex, difficult and often foreign situations:
birth : 1949
function : co-founder of Vivere
birth : 1953
function : doctor Vivere
birth : 1977
function : Communication and Philippines project
birth : 1955
function : Treasurer
birth : 1965
function : international relationships of Vivere
Other volunteers, qualified in the areas of communication and humanitarian activity management, are widely involved in this movement.
The founders of Vivere assume the responsibilities and ensure the vitality of the organisation. They hope nonetheless to receive the support and collaboration of other people in Switzerland and elsewhere who are committed to the same goals and support the choices of the movement.