Story of Bernadette Strebel, founder of ABSWP

 

“Love is the highest power and force, able to change everything. If we acknowledge the Love within ourselves, we will find our inner peace, the basis for peace on earth.”

Trees for Peace

 

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Childhood and Youth

Bernadette Strebel was born in Zurich, Switzerland. Already in her early childhood, she was characterized by a strong sense of justice. Courageously she defended excluded, underprivileged children and cared for them. Her greatest passion was the stage. She became famous in roller- and ice figure skating. At the age of only 13 she won the Swiss Championships in pair skating, together with her partner, who was five years older. Soon they were invited to join the popular international show called “Holiday on Ice”.  A great future lay ahead for this young couple but fate decided otherwise. After their performance at a skating festival both artists were involved in a terrible car accident.  Bernadette´s partner did not survive and she was severely injured. Her career came to an unexpected halt. But life moved on. As soon as she was back on her feet she dedicated herself to ballet and made a comeback in roller skating.

 

Mother, Coach, Manager

An important step in her life was her role as a mother of two children. Her daughter shared her love for sport and became Swiss Tennis Champion. Now, as her coach and manager, a new challenge began for Bernadette. Together they travelled around the world in the following years and had the opportunity to discover many different countries, both learning how to cope with unforeseen situations. Daily they saw the enormous differences between the huts of the poor and the luxurious mansions of the rich and they felt great injustice.

 

Encountering Africa

In 1990, when she accompanied her daughter to an intercontinental women’s tournament in Nigeria, Bernadette contracted malaria. As a patient she experienced first-hand the loving and unconditional sympathy and effort of the local people. Day and night they took care of her. Children brought her flowers and fruits. Bernadette was deeply touched to see how almost destitute people shared with her the very little they had. Her heart went out to this country. She wanted to give something back.

 

First activities

When she heard that a young student, Festus Onogholo, could not continue his University studies due to lack of money, she knew this was her opportunity. Spontaneously she decided to support him financially. In 2000 Festus was awarded his Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Science and Education and ten years later the senate of the University of Benin awarded him the Master´s degree. Today this man is the project manager of the "One Million Trees for Peace” project in Africa.

When Bernadette came back from Nigeria she started to organize a series of global Peace Meditations.  Thousands of people worldwide participated in these meditations, as well as in Nigeria.

Ten years later she received a desperate letter from Festus Onogholo. He wrote about bloody religious wars and vicious killings in his area. Bernadette did not think twice and, together with a team, she flew to Nigeria. On October 13th 2000 she symbolically anchored a Light pillar for love, peace, respect and unity for all religions and cultures. The ceremony was integrated in a global World Peace Meditation that was led by her. This was the beginning of a global Peace-Project for Africa and the world.

 

Recognition by Government

After this meditation in 2000 she and her team were unexpectedly invited to a meeting with the Nigerian Local Government and an interview with Bernadette was broadcast live on Nigerian television.

In the meantime Bernadette’s vision has been transformed into an officially registered Government-approved, non-profit charitable organization with herself in the president’s chair.

 

Vision of a world in peace

Today she asks herself if she would have had the courage to start if she had known what was in store for her.

Her answer is YES! because her vision of a world in peace is unshakeable.

She knows the hope of African people, their fervent wish for education, their eagerness to learn and their willingness and joy to open up for new things. This knowledge gives her over and over again new courage and enough strength to continue. She leaves no stone unturned because it is her wish that everybody, especially children, must have equal chances in life, no matter where they are born, because these children are the future of our world.

With this appeal Bernadette Strebel wishes to touch the hearts of many people having the same vision. She wants to encourage you to become part of this vision by helping to support and finance the development of the peace-project.