2019 award

Haven of last hope!

Broadening horizons. For the first time, the Sepp Blatter Foundation is supporting a project outside the canton of Valais and earmarking the annual support award of CHF 25,000 for Chasa Flurina, a home for people with autism in the village of Lavin, Graubünden.

“We had never expected this,” says Ueli Hintermann, General Manager of the educational and social therapy residential community in Lower Engadine. It is extremely gratifying that their work is held in such high regard, continues Hintermann. “And what is more, I used to be an ambitious footballer and have always wanted to meet Sepp Blatter,” he adds with a smile.

Hintermann talked in moving words about life inside Chasa Flurina: “People come to us who have gone through an awful lot over many years and are traumatised; who have been imprisoned, tied up, isolated or sedated with drugs.” Together with his five staff, Hintermann pursues a completely different approach in caring for people with autism spectrum disorders: “Our therapy is learning to live – and this can only be put into practice by creating a relationship of trust and granting people individual responsibility.” There are no medicinal therapies at Chasa Flurina.

This calls for all the more patience and empathy: “At the beginning our residents have neither a circadian rhythm nor any structure to their lives.” They are unable to master everyday things such as eating, sleeping and controlled defecation. Hintermann spoke with much empathy and thoughtfulness while at the same time ruling out excessive expectations: “Those coming to us have no chance of ever leading a normal life again.”

It is precisely for this reason that Chasa Flurina, in which seven persons currently live, is so important. Eveline Bachmann, whose 21-year-old son Michel suffers from infantile autism and found a new home in Lavin three years ago, says: “Here Michel can live in dignified conditions and without medication.” In her moving book Our Michel she writes that the “skilled caregivers have successfully managed with remarkable abilities to calm her easily excitable son and win his trust without administering any psychotropic drugs”.

Founder Sepp Blatter was visibly moved by this account and used a simple reason to explain why the support contribution in 2019 was going to Engadine: “We wish to help people who help people.” For Niklaus Furger, President of the Communal Parliament of Visp and President of the Board of Management of the Sepp Blatter Foundation, the fact that for the first time an institution outside Valais is being given a chance also ties in with the underlying idea of the Foundation: “We wish to become even more involved in social and community projects. And with Chasa Flurina we have found an institution that is of major relevance for society – even though it is not recognised to a befitting extent by the public at large.”

The entire audience (including President of the Citizens Assembly Georges Schmid) in Visp’s community hall was deeply impressed. The understanding prevailed that health is our most important asset and by no means to be taken for granted. The emotive musical sounds accompanying the moving topic were provided by the renowned Russian organist Alina Nikitina. At the end of an atmospheric event, there was a predominant sense of respect and admiration for the work done by Ueli Hintermann and his team in Lavin. And Sepp Blatter summed up what everyone was thinking: “The award this year is going to exactly the right place.”