• Henry Dunant

Henry DunantHenry Dunant

Henry Dunant was born in Geneva (Switzerland) on the 8th May 1828. He was a businessman with banking qualifications and was of Christian orientation. His parents held significant influence in Geneva because of the help which they gave to their fellow men. Through their actions, they acted as role models for Henry Dunant.

In 1852, at the age of 24, he founded a group called the Christlicher Verein Junger Männer (The Young Men’s Christian Association) with 14 other people in Geneva. He founded the international organisation, the YMCA, in the year 1855 in Paris. In 1853, Dunant visited the country Algeria as member of a Swiss delegation. In the year 1856 he himself founded a company of millers in Algeria.

After he witnessed war for the first time, it became clear to him that the injured people were not given aid. In 1863, following this experience he along with some others founded an aid organisation in Geneva, the Red Cross. Henry Dunant wrote a book about the war. This book has the title “Remembering Solferino” and he distributed it for free around Europe.

Henry Dunant was the initiator of the Geneva Convention in 1864. 12 countries signed the Geneva Convention and Dunant was one of them. The Geneva Convention is a treaty to protect soldiers who are wounded and in need of help.

From 1874 to 1886, Dunant lived alone in poverty in Geneva, Paris, Stuttgart, Rome, Corfu and Basel.

Henry Dunant received the Nobel Peace Prize in the year 1901 for his founding of the international Red Cross movement and for his participation in the Geneva Convention. He was decorated with the prize relatively late though.

He died on the 30th October 1910 in the Swiss village of Heiden.

Our school was named after Henry Dunant. I think that our school was named as such because in school we learn and learning is, in itself, a way of getting help.

Written by David from class 5c, Dunant Primary School, Berlin
Translated from the original by James Mead, English Assistant, Berlin

Chapters of Henry Dunant’s life

Every Sunday Henry Dunant accompanied his mother to church.

With his mother he made house calls to visit elderly and sick people.

The only subject Henry Dunant was good at in school was religion.

With his father he looked after prisoners.

When he was a young man he experienced the horror of war at the Battle of Solferino.

He founded the aid organisation of the „Red Cross“ together with parliamentarians of other countries.

Shortly before he died (1910) he was granted the Nobel Peace Prize by the Swedish king.

As an old man he lived lonely and poorly in a small place called Heiden (Lake Constance, Switzerland).

Donations for children at Christmas

We decide to help as our role model Henry Dunant or the members of the Red Cross!
We look for an aid organisation which we can support.

By chance we come across a brochure of one of the largest charity organisations of the world: “Geschenke der Hoffnung e.V.” – Christmas in a shoe box! We make up Christmas parcels for children in need. All presents are put into colourful shoe boxes. Then the parcels are taken to a collection point by our teachers. This year the parcels are sent to a country in Eastern Europe. Every two children of our class make up one parcel.


A Visit to an SOS-Children’s Village

Looking for another aid organisation yet we, the class 4a, found an SOS-Children’s Village in Berlin-Moabit.

Here’s what we did:

    • We contacted the office to find out how we could help and what they needed.
    • We learned that the secretary once was a pupil of our school.
    • There was a donation appeal in our class.
    • We collected 200 €.
    • As we had learned that they would be happy to get children’s bikes, our teacher got three used bikes. One of these bikes was a donation of the “Verkehrsschule Steglitz”, a place where pupils have training for safe cycling.
    • We visited the Children’s Village and presented the three bikes plus our monetary donation. Unfortunately we could not meet any children as their privacy is protected.

    • However we could watch a film on the activities of the Village.
    • We were shown around the Village.
    • Happily we returned home.


The tasks of the Red Cross

During a school project the class 4a takes a close look at the ideas of Henry Dunant. We split up into groups and make little houses which show the tasks of the Red Cross:

The “roof of humanity” is on top of the following side walls:

1st wall (NEUTRALITY):

We help, but don’t take part in a conflict.

2nd wall (UNITY):

Every country has got its own Red Cross. Together we are strong!

3rd wall (INDEPENDENCE):

No one can keep us from helping you.

4th wall (IMPARTIALITY):

No matter where you come from we help you when you are in need.


We help without getting paid.

6th wall (UNIVERSALITY):

We help all over the world.