The name “Terre des Hommes” was inspired to its founder, Edmund Kaiser, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s autobiographical book. In “Terre des Hommes”, the author makes several references to some key concepts: the responsibility of everyone in building a better world; the need to cooperate with each other; and the potential, inherent in each child, to develop great talents if protected, cared for and loved.
The TDH movement was founded in 1960 in Lausanne (Switzerland) by Edmond Kaiser, a Swiss and French citizen selling pharmaceutical products. The organization was born in response to events taking place in Algeria at the time, in order to provide direct help to children in need, who were not being helped by existing relief agencies. Its first operation was to bring Algerian children suffering from tuberculosis to Switzerland for health care. Having experienced difficulties in obtaining visas for the sick children to come to Switzerland, Edmond Kaiser called a press conference to provide information about the situation and about the TDH groups in Germany, the Netherlands and France that were also mobilising to take care of those children. In 1966 these groups joined together to form the Terre des Hommes International Federation (TDHIF).
TDH is still faithful to its original objective – to act for the rights of children most in need – and works to protect children from extreme poverty, economic and sexual exploitation, and violence.
For over 50 years, TDH has assisted hundreds of thousands of children to allow them to exercise their right to a decent life. They have been provided with health care, education, means of living, and protection against abuse, exploitation and violence. TDH has always fought to promote human rights, positive change, and a concept of the child as a person whose dignity should be fully respected.