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On Friday, November 10, Chances for Children is hosting a fundraiser ‘Music, Magic and More” at the Yacht Club.
ML: How did you, a Monaco resident, get together with an orphan in Uganda to form Chances for Children (C4C)?
GC: My husband Russell and I were sitting around a friend’s swimming pool in Mallorca drinking champagne on August 2nd, 2014 when I saw a Facebook post by my friend’s mother. She was appealing for funds for an orphanage where her son was volunteering during his gap year in Uganda. The orphanage was short €2000 to make up the amount needed to help the children. We got married in 2014 and asked for donations as wedding presents instead of taking gifts. In February 2015, we went to Uganda for the first time and we’ve never looked back since!
ML: Have you and Russell, who is C4C’s Vice-President, always been hands on with charitable associations?
GC: It’s my first time. I have a background in sales and marketing, but was looking for a new challenge after quite a few years of selling property, yacht charter, merchandising … I ran my own business with my boyfriend for 7 years so I am used to bashing doors down and multitasking!
ML: What is the mission of the Monaco-registered Chances for Children association?
GC: C4C’s mission is to provide a safe, welcoming home to the most vulnerable orphans in Kampala, the largest city in Uganda. We try to provide them with the principles and education to develop into responsible, caring adults with successful careers and family lives the day they are ready fly with their own wings.
ML: Can you describe the daily life of a Ugandan child before C4C steps in?
GC: Many of our children have lived on the streets, either in gangs or on their own. Their parents died having contracted HIV and then they were abandoned by aunts and uncles unable to care for them.
They would collect and sell scrap on the streets, or simply beg. They’d sleep in dire conditions, sticking in groups to survive. They’d pick in rubbish bins for food or queue up at soup kitchens when they were on offer, often having their food stolen from older tougher kids once they were served.
ML: Can you give us some key facts and figures about the association?
GC: The organisation was originally founded in 2011 by Martin Male, an AIDS orphan. We look after 56 orphaned children between the ages of 5 to 15, rescued from slums and hospitals, as well as from other organisations that were shut down due to lack of funding or poor conditions.
None of our children are HIV positive, they are all healthy although none of them had a birth certificate or passport when we rescued them.
In 2016, we raised €76,200. Every single euro raised goes straight to the children; we don’t take admin fees or pay our European team.
ML: Tell us about the Sponsor a Child program.
GC: Each child has a sponsor – either €2.50/day for a full sponsorship or €1.25/day for a co-sponsorship – and this funding is used to pay for food and education, utilities, basic medical care and upkeep for each child.
In return, the sponsors receive regular updates, with letters from the children, a general behavioural report, school report and photos three times a year. The sponsors are encouraged to have as much contact as possible with their child – they can organise a video chat or even send over presents for their birthdays and Christmas, if they so choose.
ML: What are C4C’s main fundraising events?
GC: We run an annual fundraiser event – for example, Raise the Roof or Chill for Charity – to pay for the rent on the children’s accommodation and also to subsidise their school fees and supplies. These events are usually in Monaco or the surrounding areas and always a lot of fun. We don’t like to take ourselves too seriously!
ML: On November 10, C4C is hosting ‘Music, Magic and More” at the Yacht Club. Can you give some details?
GC: This fundraiser will help to pay next year’s rent for our 56 Ugandan children. Bring your friends to the most chic venue in Monaco for an evening of fun and fabulous magic with Neil Henry, DJ Max Avril from Nikki Beach St Tropez and electric violinist Katharina Putska. Plus, there will be a raffle and silent auction of paintings by Ugandan artist Emma Kavuma. Tickets are limited and available online. Dress Code: Colourful Chic. We greatly appreciate your support.
ML: What percentage of funds raised go to the children versus administrative costs?
GC: Every penny goes to supporting the children.
ML: What are C4C’s plans for 2018?
GC: Our main focus in 2018 will be raising funds to build our own self-sustaining campus, so that we no longer have to rely on landlords as we keep having to move and its very expensive and stressful. For this we will need to raise around €300,000.
It will have a large farm attached to it, to provide enough to feed our own children but also enough to sell produce to provide income to the centre. We will also set up our own school with tech and sports facilities, and take in fee-paying children to make the operation entirely autonomous.
We hope this centre will be the first of many, a business model that can be replicated to provide a safe, welcoming home to children all over Africa from the most vulnerable backgrounds.
ML: Does the association need members, volunteers or accept donations?
GC: We always welcome volunteers and donations. There many bills to cover to help the children so the funds we collect cover our basic expenses but outings, more variety in their diet, and new clothes are not covered. We’d love to receive more clothes and toy packages for the kids.
In terms of finding volunteers, I try to surround myself with people whose strengths are my weaknesses. For example, I’m terrible with accounts so I get a lot of help in that department. It’s always great to grow our network, and we love to meet new people.
It’s also fabulous when people organise events themselves, like friends who put together a bonfire night in aid of the charity or others who organised a cake sale.
I’d love to find restaurants that would agree to give the customers the option to help the charity by adding €1 onto their bill. That’s a project in progress.
Article first published November 2, 2017.
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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished runner-up in Austria for the second year running on Sunday but the Monegasque champion says it still felt like a win.
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“In 1995,” Veronika Wand-Danielsson explained, “Sweden joined the EU, and I was seconded to the European Commission in Brussels.”
The family stayed in Brussels for far more years than neither she nor her husband Christian Danielsson had planned for. “When, in 1999, we asked to be posted to a new country, and were considering moving on to Africa with our children, Stockholm said ‘no’, we were both needed in Brussels, as Sweden was preparing for its first EU-presidency in 2001. My husband became chairman for the working group on enlargement of the 12 new EU countries, and, I became the chairperson for the Balkans working group, handling the follow-up to the war in Kosovo and the crises in Macedonia”.
In 2003 Mrs Wand-Danielsson was promoted and became Minister at the Swedish Representation to the EU in Brussels, now responsible for negotiating on behalf of the Swedish government, and Sweden's contribution to the EU-budget. Sweden, as a net-contributor to the EU's budget, was prepared for a tough negotiation to keep the costs down, she said.Negotiating EU budget & the Lisbon Treaty “Although I thought it might be boring after having worked within international development matters and then security related issues in the Balkans, it was quite actually quite fascinating to negotiate the EU budget, to get a thorough understanding of where the money goes, and how efficient the budget is- or is not, and to actually understand all the areas of EU-cooperation,” the Ambassador explained.
Sweden joined the EU “knowing that we would be a net-contributor to the EU-budget, but also that our membership in the EU is indeed in our overall national interest”, said the Ambassador, explaining that it among other things gives the country access to a larger market, allows us to participate in shaping EU-regulations that affects all EU-countries; strengthens our role as EU-members on the international scene, while within the EU, it enables us to show solidarity with other countries – the southern and eastern European countries, in particular, to help them with their development. “But we need to be convinced that the money is wisely spent,” she added. “This includes certain key areas we try to reform, such as agricultural policy and/or the regional funds.”
Ambassador Wand-Danielsson commented that after those two years she saw clear needs for reforming certain aspects of the EU budget. “There were areas where there was very little EU- added value, while others, like the Erasmus programme, or support to European Research and Development programmes, make a lot of sense.”
Then just when she thought, again, that she could leave Brussels after nearly 10 years, along came the Lisbon Treaty. When France and Netherlands voted ‘no’, the treaty had to be renegotiated, and the Ambassador became responsible at the Swedish EU-Representation also for this negotiation.
“I’m a good negotiator in international relations, and like getting a good deal and finding compromises. Of course, as a Swedish representative, I act on the instructions from the Swedish government. For the Lisbon treaty, the basics were there but a new framework was needed to get France and the Netherlands to accept, while not losing the other EU-members. By the time all this was over, in 2007, our 2 children Alexandra and Christoffer, were leaving school and home; they had become Belgians and were very EU-minded. My husband had meanwhile joined the European Commission Directorate for Enlargement.”
The Ambassador agreed that the image of the EU is that it’s a big bureaucracy, with “overpaid fonctionnaires” but pointed out that in fact it’s quite a small administration, with some 29,000 people– working in support of 28 EU-member states and some 500 million people.
“Yes, the EU does make mistakes, it can be very bureaucratic, and it can probably do less and better. In the EU we sit around the negotiation table, 28 countries, each country, who try to achieve a consensus on many key issues and proposals. Most times the Commission will propose a text, and if one country says it has a key problem with a certain phrase, a certain line, or a concrete proposal, there will be discussions. Sometimes, the country in question, might actually have a point about something that the others hadn’t thought about. Although the tendency is to want a quick reaction, a quick decision, sometimes quick is not necessarily good. If you start deciding over the heads of countries then you risk losing their support. We need strong EU- institutions to represent all of our interests and it’s always important to take your time to dialogue and to negotiate.”From NATO to an Ambassadorship In 2007, the Ministry asked Ambassador Wand-Danielsson to become Sweden’s ambassador to NATO. “ I had been working with the Balkans but mainly with soft security issues. NATO was hard security.”
Sweden is not a member of NATO, but we are a strong partner-country to NATO and a member of the Euro-Atlantic Cooperation Council, the EAPC, including 22 partners and 28 NATO allied-countries. Sweden’s focus in relation to NATO was on crisis management operations. Sweden has supported all NATO-led missions, from Bosnia, Kosovo, to Afghanistan and Libya. We had a Swedish delegation at the NATO headquarters, comprised of civil and military personal .
In fact, the functioning of all Armed Forces of all European countries, regardless of NATO membership, is to a large extent dependent on NATO-cooperation. NATO sets, for example, the standard for military equipment such as air refuelling. “In the case of a crisis, it is essential that all military can work together and understand each other and be interoperable on a technical, military and preferable also on a political level. Working closely with the Alliance remains a high priority for Sweden, still today”.
Despite her international upbringing, the Ambassador came to NATO with “certain prejudices and a lack of knowledge”. But she was ready to take on the challenge and to learn. “I had management skills, but I was indeed unfamiliar with the military side. I also came as a women to a very masculine world.” She described the two sides in NATO – military and political. “The military give advice to the political side, and vice versa. The military are very task oriented, which I quite like. Give them a problem, and they will try to solve it. They know what they can do, and they do that very well. But they also know what they can’t do, they don’t pretend. Politicians, diplomats pretend we know it all."
My time at NATO was most interesting. I could clearly use many of my previous skills, from my drugs control cooperation working on Afghanistan earlier in my career, to my gender-and thorough EU-knowledge”. As Steve Jobs said, ‘we have to connect the dots’. When I first came to NATO, I had a certain prejudices, but it was in fact easier to work with the military than I had expected, they respect the hierarchy, and they recognise what they know and do now need to know. It was my role as ambassador to provide the political and holistic view to ongoing matters”.
Assigned for three years to NATO, the Ambassador stayed 7 years from 2007 to 2014. “I enjoyed it a lot, both the issues and the working environment, travelling each year to Afghanistan to visit our Swedish troops stationed in Kabul and in the Balkh province”.
On Monaco “I presented my credentials here in Monaco as the second Ambassador of Sweden to Monaco in February 2015. I decided that during my time as ambassador to Monaco, I wanted to raise stronger awareness and interest for Monaco in Sweden and for Sweden in Monaco. We are presently, together with the Monegasque authorities preparing a major event focusing on the “ocean and the environment” as a key issue of common interest. Sweden became a member in the UN Security Council on January 1st,2017, and made commitments to focus on environmental issues and saving the oceans, in support, not the least of, the Small Island Nations in the Caribbean and Pacific. For some island nations, it’s a make or break situation.”
Along with Fiji, Sweden took the initiative to hold a UN-Summit on the oceans this June in New York. Monaco has a particular interest and knowledge for instance on acidification. Then, on October 12th and 13th, Monaco will together with Sweden host a conference, focusing on the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas with Swedish and international researchers, as well as the wider public, the shipping industry, and relevant economic actors.Talking trade Asked about Brexit, the Ambassador said the EU can survive Brexit, but “it’s very important how the UK behaves and how we treat the UK".
Asked about Brexit, the Ambassador explains that Sweden regrets strongly that the UK is leaving the EU. We had much in common with the UK. However, the EU can survive Brexit. It will now be very important to see how the UK reacts and we hope to find a common agreement on the exit but also on our future relations with the UK.”
Sweden, the Ambassador notes, “has strong ties with the UK – in terms of global outlook, free trade, and development – and we’re quite like minded. The UK is a key ally, as we have around 110,000 Swedes living in the UK, but we cannot have a situation where an EU country that is leaving is better off outside than inside. This would otherwise undermine the EU and EU-cooperative. The balance has to be right.”
As a medium sized EU-country, “Sweden cannot allow ourselves to be protectionist or to have a nationalistic approach. Our welfare system is dependent on a strong and open economy and therefore a strong export market.
“We don’t see the world as a big threat, but view international trade cooperation as an opportunity. We are quick to adapt, and reform is a way to keep up with changing times, including a more digital world today. Fifty percent of our GNI comes from export, of which 70% is to the EU market. And yes, TTIP, the trade agreement with the US was and remains a high priority for Sweden. Also in the future.”Sweden exports more than €5.5 billion to France, while imports to Sweden from France come in around €5 billion, with cars, manufacturing goods and electronics. Sweden exports frozen fish, fuel, pharmaceuticals and, of course, car manufacturers, Scania – the first completely Swedish-built car – for buses and trucks, and Volvo trucks, which merged with Renault, is one of the largest employers in Lyon. Monaco exports to Sweden almost €10 million a year and Sweden is ranked 17th in Monaco’s export market. On the other side, Sweden’s exports to Monaco, transport equipment and foodstuffs, is about €2 million.
Imports and exports between France and Sweden are “two sides of the same coin”. “Both imports and exports to France are as important to us,” Ambassador Wand-Danielsson stated. “And France has the same approach to help SMEs to grow. Stockholm is trying to help French companies to get access to the Swedish markets. While I have done road shows in France, and can see that Sweden is quite advanced in many key areas of the green economy, not the least linked to the transport sector.
"Big companies like Volvo and Scania have done the necessary transformation to make the transport sector environmentally friendly – in Stockholm city, 85% of all local bus traffic runs on alternative energy. Scania does a lot with bio gas for busses, for example, where France, which still relies on diesel, is just starting. French legislation is catching up after COP21 so there are new market opportunities, and a change in mentalities. It has taken us 30 years to get where we are today."According to the Ambassador, there are 20,000 Swedes living in the South of France and 15,000 in the rest of the country, so 35,000 to 40,000 Swedes either living here or with second homes, enjoying the weather, the beautiful area and the healthy lifestyle. “Swedes living abroad like to keep the Swedish traditions alive, sometimes too much … If people decide to live abroad one should invest in the country. I have a diplomatic background, and that was always my parents’ advice. If you live in a place, you must live like you will stay there forever, and not think, I will only be here for three years and then I will move on. Otherwise you will never anchor yourself or your kids. For example, I don’t go looking for Swedish meatballs, at least not every week at least.” Article first published April 9, 2017.