FAQ - Maison de Terre des hommes - Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between the Foundation Tdh in Lausanne and Terre des hommes Valais?

They are two separate, independent foundations, linked by a long common history and stemming from the Terre des hommes movement, created by Edmond Kaiser in 1960 to help children who had been injured. Between 1963 and 2022, this collaboration has saved the lives of nearly 10,000 children. In 2022, the Board of the Terre des hommes (Tdh) Foundation - Child Relief decided in Lausanne to end its specialised care activities. It will therefore stop transferring children in need of care and in need of surgery to Europe. Consequently, it has terminated its agreement with the Terre des hommes Valais Foundation - La Maison de Massongex. The two foundations no longer work together.

The Terre des hommes Valais Foundation concentrates its activities in Massongex. It takes in children transferred to the university hospitals in French-speaking Switzerland. It does not have any expatriate employees.

Is “La Maison” closed sometimes during the year?

No, “La Maison” is open 24/7 and there is no pause during the year. The children need continuous care, as illnesses never take breaks.

Does Terre des hommes Valais accept interns?

A professional structure oversees the work of future educators in this unique organization in Switzerland. We train about 20 interns every year.

How many people work for “La Maison”?

From the linen room, infirmary and kitchen to administration, maintenance and education, 45 people (36 full-time positions ) take care of the children during their stay, not including interns.

Why do children come without their family?

Parents cannot come with their child for many reasons:
It may be difficult to obtain a visa.
The trip may cost a lot of money.
They may need to stay home to take care of the rest of the family.
It is impossible for “La Maison” to host 40 or 50 mothers or fathers from 10 to 15 different countries.

Why is this transfer called “A Journey to Life”?

Without this transfer to Switzerland, the illnesses of these children would unfortunately be terminal in the long or short term.

Can the children stay in touch with their parents?

With the Internet, it is easy to stay in touch thanks to Skype or social media. But phone calls are still used the most. Our partner associations and foundations that transfer children to Switzerland are also in contact with the families.

Which countries are the children from?

Mostly from North and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Middle-East.

Do children come back to Switzerland for other treatments?

Some of them do need to be operated again. They also sometimes need to come back a second time for a check-up that cannot be performed in their home country.

What illnesses do they suffer from?

85% of the children that we host suffer from heart diseases, others suffer from various illnesses such as anorectal, urinary, vesical malformations, consequences of noma disease or orthopedic problems. Sometimes, it can be consequences of accidents: caustic esophageal strictures, burns, etc.

How long is a stay in Massongex?

Usually, children stay there for about two months.

What can they do every day?

Kindergarten, school, sewing or cookery workshops… During the year, we also organize picnics or various activities (cinema, circus) to entertain them.

After the surgery, do the children stay in Switzerland?

No. Once their post-operative treatment is over, they go back to their country and their parents.

Do they get other treatments during their stay?

If necessary, yes. They may receive dental, ophthalmological, dermatological or other treatment.

Why are clothes donations important?

As soon as they arrive, the children get a set of appropriate clothing and shoes for the season. When they leave, their luggage is full of clothes for them and their family.

How do children who speak another language communicate?

Several educators are multilingual. Children also adapt really fast, they learn and understand French words very quickly.

Do you celebrate Christmas at “La Maison”?

Several faiths coexist peacefully at “La Maison”. Therefore, we celebrate many holidays together in mutual respect all year round.