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Hilda Burger Calderón

Raising Awareness 2019

Hilda Burger Calderón


Hilda Burger Calderón was born in Colombia. She lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland with a passion from the very beginning to commit herself to help people less fortunate to live better lives. She studied in Boston and after dedicating many years to her profession as Interior Designer, she decided to embark herself into the world of social work. 25 years with the street children in Colombia. President of the fundraiser events committe at the Swiss Red Cross in Zurich. Member of the Social Committee in the Rotary Club Zurich, All these experiences enriched her life and encourage Hilda to take action to eradicate unfairness and injustice. Ten years ago, she joined the Bambi Fondation where she met moms and dads with children who suffered needlessly due to a lack of resources in Colombia. These children live in extreme situations and Hilda is firmly devoted to help these families to become financially autonomous and raise their children as they deserve.

The first Bambi home opened in 1985, at the initiative of Dr. Rupert Spillmann. While he was working on a tropical disease study in Cali, Colombia, he was struck by the lack of pre-school institutions for children living in slums and decided to create the first home. From Geneva, his cousin, Hans Rudi Spillmann, has ensured the continuity of this project as President of the FAE, created in 1989.

40% of the Bambi Homes‘ finances come from Switzerland, the other 60% from Colombia. Private donors, companies, foundations, cities cantons and communities give financial support to our programs. Fundraising is centralized in Geneva, with the exception of the Darién home.

According to official numbers, there are five million children under the age of five in Colombia. Fifty-six percent of them live below the poverty line. It is our mission to provide vital support to these underprivileged children, to strengthen their parent’s socio-economic stability, and to find sustainable solutions for the future.


So far, in these 34 years of existence, there have been about 17’500 children in the Foundation’s four Bambi homes located in Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, and Darién Valle. Thanks to the PROMEFA program, more than 4’800 mothers and fathers have succeeded in building a better future. In 2018, 900 children were homed. On yearly average, 400 families are helped.

Hogares Bambi

Your donation supports:

  • Target-specific activities for 0-6 year old children in Colombia
  • Sustainable solutions for the entire family through professional training for the childrens’ parents
  • 28% of the population lives below the poverty line (less than 2 USD per day)
    7.9% of the population lives below the extreme poverty line (less than 1.25 USD per day)
    9.2% of unemployment
    10.6%  of the inhabitants are internally displaced
    14.2%  of the children suffer from acute malnutrition
    18.7% of child mortality rate among children born during the last 5 years
    36.4% of the households depend on single women’s incomes
    17.4% of the women between 15 and 19 years old are either mothers or pregnantAt least
    30’000 children are street children
    (Sources: DANE, ENDS, ACNUR, ICBF 2015 – 2016)



Hogares Bambi

Since 1985, the Fondation Aide aux Enfants (FAE) has devoted itself to improving the lives of the poorest citizens of Colombia. The Foundation’s “Bambi” homes take in children between 0 and 6 years of age who live in extreme situations in order to restore their physical and psychological well-being. At the same time, the Foundation also helps these children’s parents become financially autonomous on a long term basis, through its professional training program, PROMEFA.

Fondation Bambi- Life is just not about us. Life is about the lives we touch. And the impact we have on them.

Bambi Homes

Meet Hilda Burger Calderón

1. What is Fondation aux Enfants (FAE)?

The Fondation Aide aux Enfants (FAE), headquartered in Geneva, strives to improve the life of the neediest families in Colombia.

In its four «Bambi» homes, the Foundation welcomes children from birth to the age of six who find themselves in extreme situations and work to restore their physical and psychological balance.

In parallel, the Foundation acts at the heart of the family structure by enabling the children’s parents, mainly single mothers, to reach sustainable autonomy through professional training program (PROMEFA).


2. When was it founded?

A Swiss doctor named Rupert Spillmann opened the first Bambi Home in Cali in 1985 with ten children. With the help of his cousin, Hans Rudi Spillmann, the foundation was created in Switzerland on the 12th of September 1989.

Since then, Hans Rudi Spillmann has been the Chairman and ensures its continuity.



3. Why are you involved and what are your duties?

As you might have heard, Colombia my country of origin has suffered from a civil war over the last 52 years.

The revolutionary forces have consistently practiced violence, torture, drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and murder.

The first to be affected have been mothers and children. Out of 49 million inhabitants, more than 7 million people were forced to flee their homes and their land ending up in slums without any means of survival.

I joined the FAE several years ago after hearing about the great projects they were developing with families.

I have been working with slum children in Columbia for the past 25 years and realized how crucial it is to also help their parents. I am a firm believer that a child is only fine if his mother is doing well and this component of empowering parents was often missing in the associations where I was volunteering. I was about to start my own project when a friend told me about the FAE. I then met the President Hans Rudi Spillmann and the Vice-President Marc Groothaert who offered me the opportunity to visit the foundation.

I was amazed by the efficiency, care and love shown by the people who work in the Homes and also the results of empowerment that I saw in mothers.

When I came back from my trip, I told myself that there was no point in reinventing the wheel, everything was there in front of my eyes.


For several years I have supported the actions of the FAE through its promotion. We organized several events in Zurich: a conference at PKZ Woman, a Ladie’s day at the Bulgari boutique and Nicolas Comi’s piano concert on November 2, 2019 at the Zurich Conservatory with Bank SYZ.

My goal and that of the newly formed action committee is to raise awareness of this cause.



4. How many people are in the NGO and what is the reach?

In Switzerland, the FAE consists of 11 members of the Board, all of whom are volunteers, and a general secretariat of three people.

A large part of the salaries is covered by two anonymous donors, which makes it possible to estimate operating costs at between 5 and 7% per year.

In Colombia we have 160 employees in 4 cities who take care of 900 children per year and provide vocational training to 400 parents.

The FAE contributes 50% of the overall operating budget.


5. What is the focus? 

The focus of the FAE is the whole family.

The programs of our Foundation follow a global approach and aim at reestablishing children’s rights while including their parents in a process of socio-economic improvement.

Bambi children

6. Where does FAE work?

The umbrella foundation is located in Geneva.

In Colombia four affiliated foundations (FAI) have been set up, all organized under the model as the FAE and with the same goals.

They are administered by voluntary boards where the FAE has a seat.

The homes are located in the four cities of Bogota, Cali, Darien and Medellin.


7. What projects do they tackle?

The main programs are to concentrate on the children’s physical and psychological rehabilitation and enhancing the mothers’ and/or fathers’ skills in order to improve the socio-economic situation of the family and tighten the family bonds.

Enable single parents to have a financial independence is a huge asset for the entire family.

Despite the Peace Agreement which was signed in Colombia in 2016, the country’s social situation remains very unstable with unemployment rate of 9.2%, 28,5% of the population living below the poverty line (less than 2USD per day) and 13,2% of children suffering from acute malnutrition.

More than ever, the FAE’s programs are carried out in a country where the first victims are people who were forced to leave their home rand are left without protection or resources.

In parallel, and within the framework of the development cooperation, more specific projects, elaborated with our local teams, are addressing key elements such as nutrition, women’s and children’s rights and sustainable development.

In 34 years: …

– Seventeen thousand five hundred children have been sheltered by the Bambi Foundation.

– Since the creation of Promefa, four thousand five hundred parents have received training or assistance in setting up their own business. Today we help around 400 families per year.

– In 2018, the Foundation received 998 children and 320 parents who since then have significantly improved their economic conditions.


8. How can we help?


You are already doing so by publishing this article and we are very grateful to you.

Our objective with the new action committee created this year in Zurich, which is made up of women, most of whom are mothers, is to raise awareness of FAE’s work in the German-speaking regions. We want to organize interesting events that allow the exchange of knowledge and skills.

You can follow our actions on all our social networks such as Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and visit our website

We just launched a patronage campaign, enabling any potential donor to support mother and children on a long-term base and thus impact the entire surrounding community.

I would like to finish with this sentence from Anne Frank:

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”



Suzanne Syz, Hilda Burger Calderón & Hand Rudi Spillamann

“At the time when Aide aux Enfants started there was no help, no social activities and children where dying of hunger and sickness in the street.” –Hans Rudi Spillmann, Founder



Charity Piano Concert by Nicolas Comi

The 14-year-old virtuoso Nicolas Comi supports the children of the Bambi homes by giving a classical piano concert at the Zurich Conservatory.


Charity Piano Concert by Nicolas Comi

Hilda Burger Calderón strongly believes in fundraising to help the Bambi homes’s endeavour. There are Bambi Homes in four Colombian cities: Bogotá, Cali, Medellin and Darién Valle.
Photos copyright by: Bambi Homes & Jeannette Johannsen-Evans