President of Terre des Hommes Lysiane André has been awarded the Legion d’honneur – the highest decoration in France. This historic moment for the organisation took place in the town hall of Saint-Denis, Paris.

Lysiane confessed that this distinction came unexpectedly. “One day I received a letter from the Mayor which he said he’d like to meet me,” she said. “At that point I couldn’t believe it.”

The reward of a life-long commitment

Twenty years ago Lysiane worked as an English teacher when in the French town of Lannion she learned about an irrigation project ran by Terre des Homme in Mali. She began as a translator in missions across the globe – such as Thailand, Philippines, India and Togo – as well as in Europe. Lysiane started to slowly take on more responsibilities within the organisation until she became President in May 2016. She is now in charge of an organisation present in 69 countries and engaged in 880 projects worldwide.

“The issues which Terre des Hommes fights for are many, and they affect all the people on the planet. But what is remarkable is that this organisation is led by a woman of rare human quality. Her strength derives from the clear awareness that solidarity must go hand in hand with the independence of those Terre des Hommes works with,” said mayor of Saint-Denis Stéphane Peu.

Lysiane André shared her distinction with the whole Terre des Hommes team, saying:

“Being president of this Federation – which for 50 years has worked to protect child and human rights is an honours – I am proud, everywhere I go, to hear compliments about the work we do. We are present in 69 countries where we have 880 projects. We are among the last, and possibly the last, to be present in parts of Syria and Mosul, Iraq. The diversity of actions which Terre des Hommes member organisations undertake is a strength which must bring us together. I truly believe in this and I intend on working towards this goal.”