Following the departure of our former accountant Christiane Sieber, we introduced his her successor, Daniel Karlen, a man of great quality and with many talents, who took over the reins of Finance at ENED. Member of theRotary Club Verbier-St. Bernard, Switzerland, Daniel has already visited ENED three times in Santo Domingo, where he met the residents (or children) of the two ENED homes and the Dominican Committee of the association.
Interviewed by Jean-Bernard Fasel
Daniel, I understand that you have travelled extensively in Latin America. How did you happen to fall on the doorstep of ENED, at the outskirts of the capital, St. Domingo?
Yes, I travelled a lot in Latin America and visited all the countries between Mexico and Chili. What fantastic memories! But this was not the time I came across the ENED homes.
With the Rotary Club, we decided to carry out a humanitarian project and we were in touch with an association located in the North of the island, at Munoz, which is close to Puerto Plata. I went there to check if this association was well grounded and serious enough to be our partner. Unfortunately it was not the case and we decided to abandon this project.
Before this trip, to inform myself about the humanitarian work and about the Dominican Republic, I contacted Jaclyn to ask her some information. It was during this meeting, drinking coffee in a restaurant called Bulle, that she told me about the ENED homes and encouraged me to go say hello to the ENED Children (“Eneditos”) during my stay.
That’s what I did and I have not regretted it! I remember how the children and the staff welcomed me on that day. I was moved to tears and completely overwhelmed. I will remember the scene forever… The smiles and looks of the children, filled with joy and gratitude. What a wonderful experience!
After giving up our first project, I sent a message to all the members and also informed all the people whom I was in contact with.
You know Jaclyn is a persistent person who has the knack to seize all the arising opportunities. She wrote to me, saying that if our first project did not happen, she would be ready to work with us.
Thus, the Rotary Club Verbier-St. Bernard got committed – this time successfully – to the ENED project, which helps to partially fund the ENED Homes for three years.
This allowed me to meet you, to further define the project ENED Second and deepen ties with ENED.
During my past two trips, I also had an opportunity to meet the Dominican Committee in St. Domingo, to visit ENED again and to move forward the ENED project with the Rotary Club Bella Vista in St. Domingo. One can get a feel for the place by visiting it. I recommend to everyone to visit the homes.
You took on the responsibility of accounting at ENED at the Swiss Committee. A remarkable commitment! Could you tell us a few words about the feelings that drive you to ENED and its children?
When Christiane could not continue with her duties, Jaclyn intelligently asked my wife if she knew anyone who could do this work. I accepted. It seems to me that if one can do it, one should provide the service. In addition, it is work I like very much.
This led me to work closely in a humanitarian purpose and to engage myself concretely. Putting my nose into the accounting of an association as active and important as ENED gives several advantages.
First of all, one can meet friendly, interesting and dedicated people. It is a great pleasure to participate in committee meetings and discuss problems to solve. We always have a wonderful time.
Also, in this position, one can realize what it means to manage two homes which host around 25 underprivileged children. What a work and what a dedication! It is really impressive.
Sometimes I get scared when I see the amount of money, which we have to find each year to fund two homes. Contrary to what one might think, life on the island is expensive, the expenses are high, and donations are not easy to find. Fortunately, the committee consists of many tireless optimists.
Looking back to the past, what do you think today of the work with children, by educators and the local committee, as well as the children themselves?
I may be repeating myself, but you absolutely have to visit the ENED homes in Boca Chica. And you will immediately realize that ENED is essential, and its work is just great.
The local committee, whose members are all volunteers, achieves outstanding and professional work with dedication. Each time we ask something, they respond immediately. Nothing is left to chance. Emails are exchanged daily between Switzerland and St. Domingo. It is absolutely mind-blowing.
People at ENED, the teachers and staff do a lot of amazing work with the children. They accompany the children with love and competence. We can see and feel that. The children know and seize that chance. They are diligent, curious and willing to learn. There are sometimes cases of failure, but that happens in any family. Actually it is the word “family” which comes to my mind when I think about ENED.
Misery really exists in the Dominican Republic. Life is hard, not easy. It is a daily struggle for those left behind in the country’s prosperity. Tourism certainly helps to provide work.
But it’s not just beaches and coconut trees; there is also the other side of the street.
So, if you can in one way or another improve the lives of the Eneditos, do it! These children need us and I am confident that we, too, we need them.