Frontiers’ volunteers: Lending a hand at Lausanne’s La Soupe Populaire

In the first interview of 2021, we talk to office manager Nikolett Oszvald about the time she spent volunteering for Lausanne based La Soupe Populaire, part of the Fondation Mère Sofia, and her motivations for taking part in the program.

What is your role at Frontiers?

“As the office manager in Lausanne, my role is pretty complex. It includes working closely with various departments, including HR, Finance, and Facilities. I make sure everything works as it should in our building and offices, and I am the first point of contact externally and internally for any inquiries.” 

“If you were to ask my colleagues to describe what else I do, they may say I was also the judge, jury, and chief negotiator when it comes to meeting rooms! Although less so since the pandemic struck of course. I consider myself fortunate to work at the heart of the organization. I am one of the very few who gets to know all our people from the very beginning, which is great.” 

What’s your background and interests?

“I have diplomas from the University of Szeged in Hungary in event management and teaching. During my studies, I spent six months living abroad as part of the Erasmus Program, studying at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris. It was after this experience I knew that I would love to see learn as much as possible about different cultures from around the world.”  

“After studying, I started work as an administrator at the Wekerle Sandor Business School in Budapest where I managed student onboarding. Since then, I have spent time living and working in France, as well as a few months working in the Caribbean. For the last 10 years, I have been working in Switzerland. Throughout that time, I have worked for several international organizations and businesses, including Aspasie, an association that defends and supports sex workers, as well as the World Health Organization and the International Organization for Standardization.”

What does the organization you volunteered for do?

“I recently volunteered with La Soupe Populaire, part of the Mère Sofia Foundation. They offer food and a point of human contact and warmth to people who are in need with no conditions attached. La Soupe Populaire also serves as a gateway to other network structures, such as night spaces, migrant support associations, support structures for people in an active phase of consumption, and social services.”  

“Due to Covid-19, this has been a particularly difficult year, as it has been for so many others. Normally, La Soupe Populaire offers meals in a warm space where people can gather during distribution. Since COVID, however, they have been distributing 200 – 300 meals each evening at the Promenade de la Solitude in Lausanne.”

Why did you decide to take part in the volunteering program?

“Last year, Frontiers began a new collaboration with the volunteering platform Alaya, providing an opportunity to give back to the community by offering three days of volunteering per year. On learning this, I knew straight away that I wanted to take part.”

“I heard about the legendary foundation La Soupe Populaire a long time ago. I think most people who have a connection to the city of Lausanne probably do, and I was always curious about it as I am very social and passionate person. I also wanted to see from the inside how the foundation works, gain some experience, and meet and help people who are in need. This was also my way to thank and contribute as a “Vaudoise” to my new country and I will definitely return soon to help again.”