Karlheinz Böhm founded Menschen für Menschen on 13 November 1981. The basis of the aid for Ethiopia was DM 1.2 million (over EUR 600,000), which was collected following the legendary bet made on the ZDF programme “Wetten, dass…?” in May of 1981. Since then the organisation has provided support for self-development in Ethiopia, which, according to the World Bank, is one of the poorest countries on earth. Since November 2008 Menschen für Menschen has been managed by his wife, a native of Ethiopia, Almaz Böhm.
Menschen für Menschen supports local people through integrated rural projects. Projects in the areas of water, agriculture, health, education and infrastructure are carried out together in combination. The organisation is also committed to improving the position of local women. The aim is to provide people in Ethiopia with ways and means with which they can develop their country and improve their living conditions on their own.
In Ethiopia about 800 employees work for Menschen für Menschen, only four of them European. The aim of the politically and economically independent, as well as interdenominational aid organisation, is to free people in Ethiopia from dependence on foreign aid in a reasonable period of time.
The organisation has done much in Ethiopia since its launch 29 years ago: 254 schools and 84 hospital wards have been newly built or expanded, and eight outpatient clinics and three hospitals have been constructed. Furthermore, together with the country’s people, the organisation has planted over 109 million tree seedlings. The project areas of Menschen für Menschen now extend over an area of nearly 50,000 square kilometres (equivalent to two thirds of the area of Austria) and have reached over four million people thus far.
Almaz and Karlheinz Böhm are receiving the Essl Social Prize 2011 for their unprecedented commitment in Ethiopia. With the prize money, Menschen für Menschen will develop a special project for the support of Ethiopia together with the Essl Foundation.
Film about Menschen für Menschen at the Essl Social Prize 2011