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Close at hand.

Knorr-Bremse Global Care has been helping people all over the world for 15 years. It focuses on SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). In 2020, Global Care will be developing specific targets in the areas of education and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene). And it will be close at hand for the people on the ground because Knorr-Bremse Global Care now has a global structure, with regional organizations in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe.

Around 750,000 people have benefited from the work of Knorr-Bremse Global Care so far. The organization was set up at the beginning of 2005, in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami in South-East Asia, with the aim of providing rapid assistance to the victims. Much has happened since then. Julia Thiele-Schürhoff, the founder and chairperson of Knorr-Bremse Global Care, has seen hundreds of projects completed – more than 300 in total since 2005 – and every one of them has made a difference. “In the beginning, we focused on reconstruction after the tsunami in South-East Asia. Since then we have been concentrating on working with the Knorr-Bremse sites. They know the local decision-making structures and don’t have any language barriers, which means we can get very close to local problems.”

From Workshop to Work

Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America focuses primarily on education. With an annual budget of USD 300,000, it has supported 12 projects over the past two years, which were selected from a list that was almost twice as long.

One ongoing project started in June 2019 in the northeast of Cleveland, Ohio, where nearly half the children are living below the poverty line. Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America Inc. financed around 50 % of the costs of a project that trains teenagers from these low-income, mainly African-American families, making it the biggest individual donor. Run jointly by the non-profit organization Boys Hope Girls Hope and a public motorbike workshop where bikers can repair their own machines, the project achieves two objectives: It teaches the young people technical skills and how to work together. As well as giving the young people useful personal development, there is a focus on finding work. And the chances are good because this is a region with a high demand for well trained and committed workers.

Same Goals, different Conditions

This local focus facilitates targeted assistance, and ten developing countries have been added over the years, in addition to the countries with Knorr-Bremse sites. Like the Knorr-Bremse Group, Knorr-Bremse Global Care wants to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Because of Global Care’s key project areas, the focus is on two of the SDGs in particular: SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). Originally, global assistance was centralized and organized by Knorr-Bremse Global Care in Munich, but in recent years, two more non-profit organizations have been set up: one in the USA in 2018 and one in Hong Kong in 2019. The importance that Knorr-Bremse attaches to this development work can be seen in the fact that both these regional organizations are run by the managing directors of the relevant Knorr-Bremse subsidiaries on a voluntary basis.

The goals in both parts of the world are the same, but the conditions and implementation differ. “Many of the employees here at Knorr-Bremse already do voluntary work,” says Maria Gutierrez, President of Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America Foundation Inc which is responsible for projects in the USA, Canada and Mexico. “Sometimes we build on the community work that people are doing already, and sometimes we get our colleagues to act as project champions in areas where they can make a real difference.” In Asia, the much larger, heterogeneous project region for which the Hong Kong organization is responsible, the approach is somewhat different. “For us, it was important to start by identifying the major aid organizations and to find out through them what we can do in the various countries,” says Martyn Perkins of Knorr-Bremse Global Care Asia Pacific. Specific projects are now in the early stages and, like the projects of the German and American Global Care organizations, will be implemented in collaboration with established, independent aid organizations that have high levels of expertise in their field. And indeed, this is a fundamental principle at Knorr-Bremse Global Care.

Better Water for Thousands

A total of 29 % of people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water. This alarming statistic is one of the reasons why Knorr-Bremse Global Care is involved in WASH projects. Water, sanitation and hygiene conditions have to be right so that people can get enough to drink and so that farming can take place. Then people are less likely to fall ill and can also attend school and go to work. One of the many WASH projects supported by the Knorr-Bremse Global Care organization in Germany is in the Somali Region of Ethiopia. In 2018, when the project started, water shortages there were even worse than usual following a drought. Working with the aid organization arche noVa in Germany and the Organization for Welfare and Development in Action in Ethiopia, Knorr-Bremse Global Care supported a project to build a rainwater reservoir and an agricultural irrigation and drinking water filter system. The work was carried out with members of the community, who also set up a committee to operate the infrastructure in the future and ensure fair distribution of the water. This is an important aspect because it means the project can be managed sustainably going forward.

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Global Activities, Global Support

Since 2005, Knorr-Bremse Global Care has invested more than EUR 21 million in over 300 projects, reaching out to and assisting more than 750,000 people in 61 countries.