Claude Ziehli, fundraiser and
manager of the Mercy Ships Network

Claude Ziehli, fundraiser at Mercy Ships

Claude Ziehli is a Mercy Ships fundraiser. He tells us about his encounter with our association, its mission and the birth of the Mercy Ships Network.

Claude Ziehli, who are you?

I have spent a large part of my professional life in the field of economics, and I have always had a strong interest in humanitarian work. For several years, I have been involved in an NGO located in Chexbres, active in Africa in the fields of training and health. I am also active in Mercy Ships, in charge of developing partnerships with foundations and companies.

What is your mission at Mercy Ships?

I am in charge of fundraising. This consists of presenting the mission, activities and projects of Mercy Ships to foundations and companies, and committing them to support us financially. And it is in this context that we decided to launch the Mercy Ships Network.

Do you remember your first meeting with Mercy Ships?

Yes, I do. A friend told me about it in 2018. At the time, Mercy Ships was looking to develop fundraising. At my first meeting, I was very impressed by the kindness of the staff and by the values that were transmitted and embodied by the team. It was a great first meeting, which motivated me to get involved with the association.

What made you want to join this adventure as a fundraiser?

The team, as I just said, but also the mission of the association. The will to offer medical care and surgical operations to the most destitute populations, on board hospital ships equipped with state-of-the-art technology, literally seduced me. I wanted to join this unique adventure.

Is there a moment that particularly marked you in your history with the association?

I can think of two moments in particular. The first was meeting surgeon Gary Parker, who has been a Mercy Ships volunteer for over 30 years. He is an exceptional man with extraordinary compassion. He has given up the comforts of a traditional life as a surgeon to serve others. It’s very inspiring. The second moment was in 2019, when I accompanied a former Swiss ambassador to Conakry, Guinea. When he discovered what Mercy Ships was doing on the ground, he became an ambassador for the organization, but figuratively this time.

What does the Mercy Ships Network mean to you?

It is a national network of enthusiastic entrepreneurs who want to get involved to make a difference and have an impact with our beneficiaries. My role with my colleagues is to ensure the convergence of the business and humanitarian worlds and to highlight their common interests.

Why did you decide to create this network?

When I started in 2018 at Mercy Ships, my role was to develop relationships with foundations, to get financial support. But because I come from a business background, I quickly saw the opportunities to develop these types of relationships. I had a strong network of entrepreneurs who wanted to get involved in the humanitarian field, but didn’t know how. That’s where the idea of creating the Mercy Ships Network came from.

What is the ambition of this network, in the short and mid term?

We are counting on 50 members to start with, to reach 100 active members in the medium term. The idea is not to have a huge network, but a quality network, with committed entrepreneurs. Our idea is to promote contact and relationships, to highlight the work of Mercy Ships and to support the mission of the organization.

What would you say to an entrepreneur who is hesitant to join the network?

That this is a network that promotes strong values and encourages long-lasting, caring relationships. We emphasize integrity, inclusion, excellence, positivity and compassion in this network. We have deliberately chosen an affordable membership fee of 1’500 francs per year, over 3 years, so that the amount is not a barrier to membership.

Any final words to share with us?

Today, there are 5 billion people in the world who do not have access to essential surgical care. More than 17 million people a year lose their lives due to lack of medical care. That’s a huge number. We can make a difference, transform lives and impact entire families and communities. That’s what Mercy Ships Network wants to help do. Now.

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