Wien, 27. June 2012 Press release

State Secretary Dr. Wolfgang Waldner presents the Austrian Decoration of Honour to eleven Austrian voluntary workers

Vienna, 27 June 2012 – Nearly 30 percent of Austrians over the age of 15 engage in unpaid work for the benefit of society, making Austria a European leader in voluntary activities. Some 94 million people in Europe dedicate their time to voluntary social and development work. “We can be proud of the significant role that volunteerism plays in Austria. It shows that young Austrians care deeply about other people and that they are committed to supporting them at home and abroad with complete sincerity, vigour and energy”, Austrian State Secretary Waldner said upon awarding the Austrian Badge of Honour to eleven volunteers in a festive ceremony at the Foreign Ministry.

Voluntary work is a valuable contribution to promoting social cohesion. It is the foundation of a functional democracy and society. Voluntary commitment goes beyond good will. “Public attention is often focused on the major humanitarian crises. It is, however, above all the long-term projects that do not attract public attention that are the most effective”, Waldner said. It is therefore most important to thank volunteers and to appreciate their commitment publicly. “I am particularly pleased to see that all the volunteers receiving the distinction today are young; they are ready to assume responsibility and by doing so they enhance cohesion in society. Their commitment is an example for us all.”  With their commitment and the necessary professional approach they display, the persons honoured today have made life easier for many people in distress.

Representing the many Austrians who did active voluntary work abroad, eleven volunteers from very wide ranging activity areas received the Austrian Decoration of Honour from State Secretary Waldner:

Four highly committed volunteers of the “Jugend Eine Welt” organisation received the distinction representing 20 volunteers who committed their time and energy to development projects abroad in cooperation with Don Bosco: Anita Dinhobl, Magdalena Hahn, Verena Kriechbaumer and Barbara Schwalsberger for spending several months working on projects in Ethiopia and India.

Laura Burtscher, Bernadette Waldherr and Thomas Vith of the “Österreichischer Bauorden” (Austrian Building Companions) received the distinction for their work in locations including Macedonia and Kosovo.

The founder and manager of the “Kindern Eine Chance” organisation, Stefan Pleger, and his colleague Eva Erlach were honoured for their work in Uganda.

Martin Krenn of the community of young Christians, the “Katholische Jungschar” received the decoration of merit for his work in Nicaragua and his many years of service for the development-policy agenda of the community of young Christians.

Mathias-Maximilian Lindermuth was decorated for his continued commitment to projects in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

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