Cecilia Lachat is an ordinary woman who has done and continues to do special things. She is a Swiss nurse naturalized in Italy who has always felt the need to help the less fortunate in life. This led her to found in 2004, Mosaico Euro-Africano Association, a non-profit, independent of any religious or political group that raises money to manage and maintain the “Paolo Zanichelli Childrens’ home”, a nursery school for children aged 3 to 8 years Kalahari Desert in Botswana.

Her passion for Africa, its people and its kids dates back to when she was herself a child. Third of four children born to a modest family in Switzerland, the father often said, “Never forget those who have less than you, and suffer because they do not have enough to live comfortably”. As a child she used to see documentaries of missionaries in Africa at the oratory, and she began to approach this large and poor continent. Perhaps the roots of her “African history” are just in the words of his father and a black doll donated by her mother, after seeing the films of the missions…

When she is 23 years old she leaves for Zambia where she works as a volunteer nurse in a children hospital. She works day and night, in extremely precarious conditions, taking care of a hundred young patients.

In Zambia, she meets her future husband, Mario, an Italian medicine student, who shares with her a love for Africa. Mario stays with her a few months, and then he returns to Italy. A very original correspondence begins between the two, because Cecilia does not speak Italian Mario does not speak German. In Africa, they were speaking French, but neither is able to write in French. What to do then? They decide that Cecilia would have written in German and Mario in Italian. Having no familiarity with the grammars of the two languages they decide to help each other with a legend of verbs, with each verb in the text is assigned a number that refers to the infinite of the verb in a note. Cecilia spends her few free days translating Mario’s letters Mario. If this is not love …. Finished his work in Zambia, Cecilia returns to Europe and marries Mario.

The two, however, want to go back to Africa and Mario finds a job as a doctor in Guinea. One of their sons was born there. Africa gives her love and carries it away: after only five years of marriage, Mario dies tragically in a accident while trying to go under water. Mario is just 33 years old, and Cecilia finds herself alone with two very young children. She remembers that day: “I was confused … desperate, lost …  back home, I found myself staring at the blank out of the window and at a certain point, the world appeared in front of me. The buses passing by, a woman with a basket of bananas on his head hurrying down the street. Life went on … despite my loss … despite my tragedy. I had to go forward. I had to go forward especially for my children.”

Cecilia is forced to return to Europe, she moves to Switzerland and does her best to go forward, and she starts to work. After some time she meets Daniele, an old friend of Mario. The two begin dating and by the time they become a couple. Daniele is a very busy man, but takes care of Cecilia and her children. With him she travels around the world and also the African continent is visited several times

But Cecilia’s desire to go to Africa and help its unlucky inhabitants had never turned off: “I had promised myself that once my children were grown up, I would be back in Africa, and so I did”. Life offers a new opportunity to Cecilia, thanks to the generosity of her new partner who buys a reserve in Botswana and that gives her a “triangle” of land to start her center.

In the day care center about 90 children are welcomed. They are given lots of love, but also food, clothing, health care and a good preparation to school. Children arrive from their village by bus (which the association has bought thanks donations) to the center in the morning around 8:00. Cecilia tells: “When they arrive they all want to kiss me on the mouth, one thing Afrikaans do and African children feel empowered to do with me, but that does not fit in the habits of their families. Because they are so many and come running, I have to sit on the ground otherwise they make me fall”. Then the teachers check if the children are dirty and “pigs” are put in the bath. After  “the washing”, they have breakfast, play in the garden and then go to their classes. There are three levels to ensure an adequate education to all. And then lunch, nap, school, play, snack and home again. In the center there is also a nurse who monitors the health of children, when the problems are not solved Cecilia takes the children to the doctor and pays herself for the care needed. Once the children leave the center Cecilia goes to visit them periodically to make sure that everything goes well.


Asked if her children are happy she replies: “Yes, I think so, this school has become a reference for the community in the area, if the children were not at the center they would spend the whole day around the village do nothing and without sufficient and appropriate food to grow strong and healthy. When they come to us are a bit  timid, then they adjust and have fun … Yes, I think this is happiness”. Cecilia adds: “Go a month in Africa, living in close contact with people, and you will understand how much our society is superficial, and a slave of desires rather than actual needs. Of Africa I really like simplicity. Life in Africa constantly reminds me what are the core values of our existence…. it reminds me that donate enriches much more than receive”.  And: “Then these children are irresistible, it is impossible not to love them. I have seen so many children in my life, but the African ones are the most beautiful in the world”.