The humanitarian association CHILDREN FIRST is a philanthropic non-profit organization and was founded by Mr and Mrs Eibl in 2003. It is represented by the president of the association Sylvia Eibl. She is of German origin and is a mother of seven children, who has lived in Varese with her family since 1999. In 1991, Sylvia Eibl graduated in Social Pedagogy and worked for many years in a hospital, taking care of sick children and those who were victims of violence. She also worked in court in the branch of protection of children’s rights. The goal of the association is to alleviate the hardship and suffering of children in various countries around the world and to improve their childhood substantially despite their race, colour or religion. Also by so doing, to donate great energy and love to these little ones, in order to improve their situation and living conditions, particularly in developing countries, in areas affected by disaster and also in countries afflicted by war.
Sylvia Eibl, who (together with volunteers) is personally full-time engaged in carrying out projects for disadvantaged children and bringing concrete aid to children in need. For this reason, in December 2014, during an official ceremony at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, she was awarded the Silver Shield Award by the Istituto Scudi di San Martino and in 2012 in Naples, she was awarded the International Kindness Award from the Comitato della Croce di Cavarzere.
Many volunteers work alongside Sylvia,Nadia Menghina, Cinzia Bruni, Marisa Cogni, Sonia Iacoangeli, Mariangela Semenzato, Daniela Coppola, Adriana Bertolami and Artemisia Acquaro, who is among other things responsible for the press office. Volunteers Stefano Arioli, who is the project manager for aid for children with severe hearing defects,Giorgio Pezzuolo, Manuele Marcon, Fabio DeAngelis and Tony Paratore. Projects in Pakistan are conducted by our collaborators and Mumtaz Mughal and Al Misre and our partner organization, GMMWT, whose president is Mukthar Ahmed, a prominent lawyer in Muzaffarabad. For projects in the Ukraine, the charity works in collaboration with its partner “Bila Tserkva Town Public Organization”, whose director is Nina Sokolenko.
All people involved in the charity’s missions have a spirit of love and philanthropy and donate their time, their talents, their skills and their enthusiasm so that the charity can improve the lives of as many suffering children as possible. We must not forget to mention here the advertising agency “SavileRow” (www.savilerow.it) from Milan. This is a young team of creative people who selflessly produce and donate a beautiful advertising campaign to us each year, which is based upon one of our charity projects.
So far the national aid projects have been focused in Milan. The Province of Milan has requested our charity to participate in a project which involves creating a place which could help the 0 to 3 year old children of mothers who are imprisoned in the San Vittore prison in Milan. This initiative enables these children who have only ever known walls, guards and barriers, to be transferred to a place similar to a family home. The non-profit organization CHILDREN FIRST has completely equipped this family home with everything to satisfy the children’s needs, including all the furniture for the games room, traditional wooden toys, cribs, changing tables, etc. The charity has also collaborated with the Province of Milan to realize the project “GioPa”: This project supplies an open space to separated fathers to meet with their children to strengthen their relationships. The association has equipped these meeting rooms with furniture and toys.
The following show some details of international projects:
In 2007,the association launched the sponsorship project “Orphan Children Project”(OCP), for 108 fatherless children who live with their mothers and brothers in precarious conditions in the remote villages of the mountains around Muzaffarabad in the region of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan. These orphans receive € 30 per month from their sponsor “parent”. Thanks to this contribution, these children have the opportunity to attend school and to receive sufficient nutrition.
In addition to this, the charity is continuing its efforts in financing and organizing medical treatment locally or abroad for the most critical situations of sick children.
In 2007, the association set up a medical care initiative for Lebanese children who were seriously injured, maimed and burned in or after the 2006 war. In particular by the use of cluster bombs. For these children, the charity organized the necessary physical therapy or medical care in hospitals in Beirut, Libanon, and abroad, and has assumed all expenses involved.
In Sri Lanka from 2007 until 2009, an orphanage was built and a sponsorship program for orphaned girls was set up. Unfortunately, the project crashed because of the lack of co-operation of the local nuns in charge to be able to provide the required transparency guarantees and comprehensive accounting. The building itself however was passed to the nuns after half of the work had been completed.
From March 2008 to February 2010, CHILDREN FIRST collaborated with the humanitarian association “Humedica”, based in Germany (www.humedica.org) and expanded, organized and financed a kindergarten for 300 children in South Darfur (Sud Sudan) Its purpose was to help young children between 3 and 6 years old, who had lived in the refugee camp “ElSereif” near Nyala. At that time the camp contained about 14,500 refugees, mostly mothers with babies, children and elderly people. (See the publication of the project in “Famiglia Cristiana” July 27th, 2008). Participation in this project enabled these little ones to forget the nightmare of the terrible civil war from which they had fled. The creation of play spaces, as well as education, are considered to be the most important pillars of humanitarian assistance, along with the provision of food, shelter and medical care. The project was predisposed to provide a daily dish of nutritious porridge for the children, along with bread, in order to combat malnutrition.
Since April 2008, the association has supported children with leukemia and tumors in Bila Tserkva (Kiev), in the Ukraine, cooperating with the local organization “Bila Tserkva Town Public Organization”. It also finances the purchases of medical care and drugs. Although it has been 29 years since the explosion at thefourth reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, cancer continues to kill in the Ukraine. In Europe and the USA, cancer recovery statistics reach 70%- In the Ukraine they drop to 40%. This makes cancer a major cause of disability and mortality in the country. To increase the survival rates of the 2,000 Ukrainian children suffering from cancer who are hospitalized in the pediatric wards of Oncology and Neurosurgery in the two major public hospitals in Kiev, drugs, nutrition and adequate medical equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer are needed. Furthermore, in December 2009,the charity CHILDREN FIRST launched the sponsorship program for the poorest children from BilaTserkva who are fatherless, and who face great hardship together with their brothers and sisters.
At the beginning of the year 2010, in Awassa in Etiopia, a project was launched which was dedicated to 35 street children aged 5-10 years. The charity rented a large house in which the little ones could sleep, receive a meal 3- 4 times a day, and a basic education (school). At the end of 2011, this project was handed over to the charity’s partners in Germany.
To cope with the dramatic situation in Pakistan caused by the July 2010 flood disaster, the president of the charity made a trip from the 18/9/10 to the 10/10/10 to the stricken areas. She was able to give medical care to children suffering from diarrhea and dangerous levels of dehydration. She personally delivered 200 kilos of urgent medicine to two field hospitals in South Pakistan (this trip was covered in the weekly magazine OGGI, Christmas 2010). On this occasion, the charity had created and funded a “feeding center” for severely malnourished children right up until December 2013 in the Pediatric ward of the civil GMC hospital in Sukkur, the Sindh region of Southern Pakistan. The project was handed over in late December 2013 to the administration of the hospital.
From February 2011,a project was started which was dedicated to the “rubbish dump children” aged between 3 to 11 years in Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan. These children are forced to collect rubbish by their parents in order to sell it as recyclable material. The charity rented a big house in the centre of the city of Muzaffarabad, which is used as a”day center” and which currently provides 70 children with five hours of school lessons and three hot meals every day, in addition to medical care. All in healthy, hygienic, comfortable, familiar surroundings.
Since March 2013, the charity has supported children with severe hearing difficulties and has shared the cost of maintaining the “Jan School” in Yaqubi, in the Swabi, Pakistan. Volunteer and project manager, Dr. Stefano Arioli is responsible for prosthetic hearing, the fitting of hearing aids and their tuning via special receivers and software. His responsibility includes the establishment of an on-site workshop for staff audiologists.