New at the Children’s Village: Miriam Zampatti

23.03.2016 - 10:38 | Andrea Kern

Refugees, violence, hungry and sick people. What most Swiss only encounter in the news was part of Miriam Zampatti’s life for almost 15 years. From 1997, this cheerful native of Graubünden worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross in different countries around the world.

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Miriam Zampatti. © Stiftung Kinderdorf Pestalozzi

«By doing field work, I was confronted directly by the distress of the people,» is how Miriam Zampatti summarises her past career. She visited children in prison, organised activities to protect the civilian population, and planned the distribution of foodstuffs to victims of conflict. Miriam Zampatti worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Angola, Brazil, Colombia, Pakistan, the Congo, Sudan and Yemen, among others.

First experiences in Guatemala

Miriam Zampatti grew up in St. Moritz in the Engadin. While still at high school, she worked as a ski instructor, even teaching the partially sighted to come safely down the slopes. After her baccalaureate, her curiosity and love of languages took her to Geneva, where she worked in a bank before going to the University of St. Gallen to study international relations. The time to set off into the wide world came shortly after submitting her dissertation in 1995. “I was fascinated by the opportunity to work abroad in the field of humanitarian aid.” She gained her first experiences in Guatemala, where she lived in a rural village for three months as peace observer for a Swiss NGO – the beginning of her commitment to people in need.

«By doing field work, I was confronted directly by the distress of the people.»

Miriam Zampatti – Head of International Programmes

When talking to her, the 44-year old can be observed raking through her memories, which are marked by contrasts. Such as when she talks about a meeting with armed rebels and then describes the beautiful landscape just moments later. How does one cope with living in a crisis area? «The ICRC prepared us very well and explained the dangers,» says Miriam. In spite of the risks, she usually also had time to explore the countries and get to know their natural beauty. «I visited places that are often inaccessible to tourists.» The volcanoes of Colombia, the old part of Yemen’s capital Sana’a and the Amazon left the biggest impression on Miriam Zampatti.

Exploring on cross-country skis

Miriam Zampatti has been working at the Children’s Village as Head of International Programmes since September. «I always intended to return to Switzerland one day,» says Miriam. Now the opportunity has come to contribute her professional experience and know-how to the Foundation. She is looking forward to rediscovering the country and putting on her cross-country skis in winter. In her free time, she runs to stay fit. She would also like to invest more time in her hobby, analogue black and white photography, and make time to visit museums.

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