Story of Bernadette Strebel, founder of ABSWP
If we acknowledge the Love within ourselves, we will find
our inner peace, the basis for peace on earth.”
Childhood and Youth
Bernadette Strebel was born in Zurich, Switzerland. Already in her early childhood, she was characterized by strong sense of justice. Courageously she defended excluded, underprivileged children and cared for them. Her greatest passion was the stage. The engaged girl became famous in roller- and ice figure skating. At the age of only 13 she wan the Swiss Championships in pair skating, together with her five years older skating partner. Soon both where 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 went involved in a dramatic car accident where her skating partner did not survive and Bernadette got severely injured. Her career was stopped unexpectedly. But life moved on. As soon 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.
1990, when she accompanied her daughter during an intercontinental women’s tournament in Nigeria, Bernadette contracted Malaria. As patient she had a first hand experience of 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 put something back.
As she heard that a young student, named 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 year 2000 Festus got his Bachelor degree in Agricultural science and Education and ten year later the senate of University of Benin awarded him the master 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 series of global Peace Meditations, where worldwide thousands of people were taking part, also in Nigeria.
Ten years later she received a desperate letter from Festus Onogholo. He wrote her about bloody religious wars and the vicious killings in the area where he lives. Bernadette did not think twice and together with a team she took a flight to Nigeria and 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 by the Nigerian Local Government and an interview with Bernadette was broadcasted 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 unshakable.
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.