The Swiss Relief Organization (SRO) of the Swiss Commandery of the Order of St.John, which is active since the early 1960ies , is known under the terms of:

  • Oeuvre d’Entraide (French)
  • Hilfswerk (German)

The SRO is not a legal independent entity, but is depending of the Commandery. Enterprises are financed by the donations of the knights and by private foundations.

Switzerland is a federalist country with various languages and mentalities. For this reason an important part of the activities takes place on a regional level. In addition Switzerland is highly socialized; basic needs of the population are taken over by the State.

The regulation of the SRO foresees an engagement on 3 levels:

  • the individual level: each knight
  • the regional level: 6 Sub-Commanderies
  • the level of the Commandery: national and international basis

It is in the hands of each knight to manage his own individual diaconal work.

The regional activities of our 6 Sub-Commanderies vary according to the opportunities and needs, some examples:

  • Basel: “Community of Help” (Hilfsgemeinschaft) with about 30 volunteer members helping during religious services in hospitals and nursing homes.
  • Berne: financial and concrete support of a centre of drug addicts.
  • Geneva: financial support of a playground for homeless children during afternoons after school.
  • Neuchâtel: financial and concrete support for the rehabilitation of jobless persons.
  • Vaud: management of a Centre of Homeless People, an enterprise created by the MHDS (Hospitaller Service of the Order of Malta), St.John and an important sponsor. A place for getting free medical and dentist care and assistance.
  • Zürich: management and financial support to a nursing home in Rumania.

The SRO has a long experience in supporting humanitarian programmes of internationally recognized NGOs, and concentrates on programmes which are closely followed by one of our Knights. Recent examples:

  • Switzerland: Support of individual cases, rehabilitation of victims of cerebral accidents.
  • India: management and financial support of the professional education of a minority group. A Christian organization named COREED.
  • Rumania: management and financial support of a nursing home.
  • Israel: Purchase of equipment for the “Eye Hospital” of the Order of St.John in Jerusalem and for the newly opened outreach “Eye Hospital” in Hebron.

In the permanent search of helping forgotten victims, in an “over socialized “country, the SRO has identified the field of Organ Donation, an area where Switzerland ranks amongst lowest. This federal project consists in making the population aware of the necessity of donating organs for transplantation. For the carrying out we have a partnership agreement with Swisstransplant and the Rega (Schweizerische Rettungsflugwacht).

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