I discovered Omoana when I attended the 126th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Kampala from 31 March to 5 April 2012. Created in 1889, the IPU is the international organisation of national parliaments, a kind of UN of parliaments. It works for peace and cooperation between peoples and the strengthening of representative democracy.

Our delegation, accompanied by Swiss ambassador Jacques Pitteloud, visited Omoana, whose existence had been brought to our attention in Switzerland. Mathilde Jordan gave us a warm welcome, showed us around the organisation and explained how it works. We shared lunch with the staff in a festive atmosphere, topped off by songs from the children. We then all went back up to the source of the Nile and shared moments of peace and happiness. I still remember the look in the children’s eyes: I saw a mixture of fear and joy. I saw hope for a better future.

And it’s all thanks to Omoana, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary today. I have a great deal of respect for these students from Fribourg who, in 2003, had the courage to launch this venture and provide an answer to questions that were troubling their consciences. As a liberal, I congratulate them! They took the initiative without waiting for “the State to do it”. They have taken the initiative in accordance with the values of freedom and responsibility that I hold dear. I hope that Omoana will continue its efforts along the same path with passion and courage: a lot has been done, but even more remains to be done!

Ignazio Cassis, doctor
National Councillor, TI
Member of the support committee