In a world often overshadowed by hardship and suffering, there are extraordinary individuals who choose to dedicate their lives to making a difference. Today, on the occasion of Rosi Gollmann’s 96th birthday, we celebrate the remarkable journey of a woman whose compassion and unwavering dedication have touched the lives of millions. As the founder of Andheri Hilfe Bonn (AHB), and a beacon of hope for development workers in India and Bangladesh, Rosi Gollmann has inspired generations with her mission of “Happy Children in Happy Families,” “Empowering women for Leadership,” and “Help for Self-help.” Her tireless efforts have created a ripple effect of positive change, fostering a better future for those most in need.
A Call to Service
The seeds of Rosi Gollmann’s extraordinary journey were sown during her teenage years. Determined to be the “salt” of the world, she made a vow to help the poor and oppressed. The trials of the Second World War, which she and her parents endured, strengthened her resolve to dedicate her life to aiding those in need. Despite societal expectations for women at the time, she chose not to marry, freeing herself to pursue her calling of service and compassion.
A Journey to India
Rosi Gollmann’s life took a transformative turn when one of her students introduced her to the plight of an orphanage in Mumbai. Moved by the children’s dire circumstances, she reached out to offer support. In an extraordinary act of kindness, the students donated parcels of basic necessities for each child. Fuelled by her unwavering determination, Rosi decided to personally deliver these donations to India, unaware that this trip would mark the beginning of her lifelong mission.
A Mission of Love and Empowerment Upon arriving at the orphanage, Rosi Gollmann was deeply affected by the challenges faced by children in India. Her heart could not accept the heartbreaking reality of parents giving up their children due to poverty. With an unyielding belief that love, and compassion were essential for children, she set out to provide not just the necessities of food, shelter, and education, but also the nurturing care that every child deserves. Her journey to India became a testament to a new era of sharing love and kindness while addressing critical needs.
The Birth of Andheri Hilfe Bonn (AHB)
Driven by her unwavering faith and a desire to create lasting change, Rosi Gollmann founded Andheri Hilfe Bonn (AHB). The organization became a symbol of hope, with her own house serving as its office and a network of dedicated volunteers working alongside her. AHB has been unique in its approach, being one of the few organizations entirely managed by volunteers from the founder’s home. Over the last 50-plus years, AHB has supported more than 3,000 projects, partnering with local organizations, and positively impacting the lives of over 10 million people.
The impact of Rosi Gollmann’s work through AHB is immeasurable. Her organization has provided support to more than 25,000 children in villages, ensuring access to education and fulfilling their various needs. Over 140,000 children, adults with different abilities, and indigenous people have received assistance, protecting their rights and fostering inclusivity. Countless infant girls at risk of being killed at birth have been saved and safeguarded. Through AHB’s efforts, child laborers have been liberated and given the opportunity to pursue education. Over a million eye operations have been performed, preventing blindness and granting children the gift of sight.
Rosi Gollmann was honoured by the Chancellor of Germany and also received the prestigious World’s Children’s Prize in 2017 for her support of the poorest and most vulnerable children in India and Bangladesh. These well-deserved accolades are a testament to her tireless efforts and the profound impact she has made on countless lives.
A Strong Partnership
Within this context, it is important to acknowledge the significant role that Andheri Hilfe Bonn (AHB) has played in supporting the work of WOTR (Watershed Organisation Trust). The partnership between AHB and WOTR is built on a shared commitment to empowering communities and promoting sustainable rural development.
WOTR’s impactful work has been greatly bolstered by the generous support of Andheri Hilfe, paving the way for expansion into new geographies such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, and Odisha. This partnership has been particularly instrumental in reaching the most remote and vulnerable pockets of central India, which are predominantly inhabited by indigenous populations.
The financial aid has not only supported thousands of lives in these areas but has brought about positive change in regenerating the landscapes through its various interventions of land and water management, building up resilient livelihoods through interventions in agriculture, livestock, non-timber forest product to state a few. The initiatives have empowered the rural communities to address their developmental challenges and bring a positive and lasting impact on the rural communities. Today most of these communities have become lighthouse villages to showcase what can be achieved in community development through commitment and action of local institutions.
Celebrating a Lasting Legacy – Rosi Gollmann
As we commemorate Rosi Gollmann’s 96th birthday, we express our heartfelt gratitude to AHB for their unwavering support to WOTR and their invaluable contribution to rural development. Their partnership has not only transformed the lives of individuals and communities but also serves as an inspiring example of what can be achieved through collective action.
Rosi Gollmann’s journey is a testament to the power of love, kindness, and empathy. Her selfless dedication to uplifting the lives of the poor and oppressed has inspired generations of development workers and continues to inspire us today. As we honour her on this special day, let us recommit ourselves to following in her footsteps, spreading love, compassion, and empowerment to create a more just and sustainable world.
Happy 96th birthday, Rosi Gollmann! Your remarkable legacy will forever be a beacon of hope, guiding us towards a brighter future for all.