“When everyone pitches in, we can change the world”
Herwig Jantschik has been a counselor at Voith for over 25 years. His dedication to social causes goes well beyond the company. For a long time, he has been involved in helping orphaned children in Nepal. When an earthquake and a monsoon devastated Nepal in 2015, one thing was clear to him: He did not want to look on, but to help out. Together with his wife, Petra Pachner, and their Nepalese associate Pawan Dhakal, he founded an association to aid Nepal called Zukunft für Nepal Ostwürttemberg.
Early in the morning on April 25, 2015, Jantschik and his wife received the news that there had been a terrible earthquake in Nepal. They immediately thought about the children’s village they had built with the help of a sponsor group. “I assumed that the children in the children’s village had died,” Jantschik recalls. In the evening, he discovered that luckily nothing had happened to the children – the children’s village had been built to withstand earthquakes.
The earthquake devastated a large part of Nepal and claimed around 8,800 lives. Herwig Jantschik, Petra Pachner and Pawan Dhakal immediately decided to found an association called Zukunft für Nepal Ostwürttemberg, through which they wanted to help the earthquake victims, particularly in mountainous areas that are difficult to access. With support from colleagues and from Voith, the association quickly collected 1,500 blankets, eating utensils for 2,000 people, 14 large tents, medicine and several tons of dried foods as well as bandaging materials for the earthquake’s victims.
Jantschik knows what moved him to set up the association: “I was lucky enough to be born in Germany. I have never experienced war, starvation, earthquakes or anything like that. Life is good for me, and I would like to pass on some of the positive things that I have experienced.”
From earthquake aid to promoting education and training
During their work for the association, they found out that large numbers of people were fleeing Nepal. According to Jantschik, around 1,200 young Nepalese people, most of them poorly educated, are leaving every day to sell their labor in other countries, often under inhumane working conditions. Last year, the association came up with the idea of working with the Dhading district to build a training workshop and a school along with accommodation for the trainees. By providing training in Nepal, the association wants to actively help shape the country’s future. Building work on the training workshop began in October 2016. The objective of the workshop will be to train industrial mechanics, electricians, woodwork designers and tailors, who can then get a job at one of the companies that collaborates with the initiative. “There aren’t many education and training opportunities in Nepal, even though demand for local skilled workers is very high,” Jantschik says.
Reliable partners and helpful colleagues
Jantschik, Pachner and Dhakal can always count on their reliable local partners and support from Voith, Voithians and other companies. He is all the more grateful for the association’s positive contact with the people and local partners in Nepal. For example, a resident of the village donated land for construction work. “We were simply lucky that our initiative attracts people who say ‘they’re doing the right thing,’” Jantschik says.
He adds that without the assistance from Germany, it would not be possible for the association to do work at this scale. “The level of help that we experienced here at Voith and elsewhere has been overwhelming to me. I would not have considered it possible,” Jantschik says. The donations that the association has collected for the training workshops to date have exceeded Jantschik’s wildest dreams. Machines, packages, containers and transport costs worth a total of around € 55,000 have been donated. Jantschik can hardly find the words to express the scale that the association’s support has taken on since then. “Sometimes I wake up in the morning and can’t quite wrap my head around everything that needs to get finished. But then I go to the office and hear about all the things people plan to do or donate.”
Voith connects work and involvement in social causes
Jantschik is proud and grateful to work for a company that is so strongly committed to helping people all over the world. For example, Voith donated several machines for the training workshop and also helped the association to get other companies involved. “The support we get from Voith is fantastic. Without Voith, we couldn’t get anything done at all,” Jantschik explains. He is just as excited about the rest of Voith’s work for social causes, such as the 150 Good Causes initiative. “I think it’s amazing that Voith is getting involved and doing something for communities, no matter what continent they’re on.”
Looking to the future
When it comes to the question of where he gets the time, energy and persistence to take on this kind of commitment outside of his working hours, Jantschik doesn’t have an answer at first. Then he says, “If you feel that you’re doing something meaningful and that it’s making a difference, then it releases energy you didn’t even know you had.” This energy and the support that the association receives from all sides keep its members going and enable them to look to the future with a sense of optimism. Their biggest wish, according to Jantschik, is that they will be able to stand on the site in Nepal and take a look at the training workshop together in a year.