Hevert Block Party in Berlin - A Party for Young and Old Alike

Family-owned business Hevert-Arzneimittel, based in Rhineland-Palatinate, expanded its company branches with a new Berlin office in early May 2017. One sunny weekend in July, a block party was organized for residents of the adjacent streets. The Hevert family was particularly excited to catch up with famous architect and Harvard professor Diébédo Francis Kéré. This year’s check for the "Together for Gando" initiative to support Kéré's school construction project in Burkina Faso was also handed over in front of the Bergmannkiez community.

Mathias (left) and Sarah Hevert symbolically handing over the check to Diébédo Francis Kéré in Berlin. Mathias (left) and Sarah Hevert symbolically handing over the check to Diébédo Francis Kéré in Berlin.

In keeping with the theme of “Introducing Hevert, your new neighbor,” the hosts of the Hevert Block Party – Sarah and Mathias Hevert – were pleased to see that so many residents had accepted the invitation. An organic grill buffet, presentations on health and the environment, live music by Berlin singer-songwriter Charlie Grant, and a children’s program gave both young and old visitors the chance to learn more about their new neighbor and its engagement.

A particular highlight for the hosts was catching up with their longtime friend and partner Diébédo Francis Kéré, who supports school projects and sustainable development policy in Africa through his Kéré Foundation.

The path to long-term engagement

In 2004, the family-owned business was looking for a charitable project to support over the long run. Hevert shareholders Sarah, Marcus, and Mathias Hevert felt it was important to know exactly what the company’s donations would be used for and to be able to see the direct benefit. By chance, Mathias Hevert met founder Francis Kéré in person on a train to Berlin. At that time, Kéré was just getting started on plans to expand his elementary school in Burkina Faso, for which Hevert was to become the primary sponsor.

Managing Director Mathias Hevert looked back with pride on this history and on the joint projects. “Using a combination of traditional mudbrick building methods and innovative, modern ideas, Francis and his team in Gando have executed and developed something unique. We saw this for ourselves on site in Burkina Faso. We have been following his projects since 2004 and were fortunate enough to assist with the construction of an elementary school and a library, and the start of construction for a secondary school.”

Founded by Sarah, Marcus, and Mathias Hevert in October 2015, the Hevert-Foundation is headquartered at the new Berlin office and will support Kéré in his endeavors. One cent of each package of medicinal product sold is directed to the Africa project through the Hevert-Foundation. Sarah and Mathias Hevert handed a generous 25,000-euro donation check over to Kéré at the block party.

Helping others help themselves

“When I began my work, I was very naive. I wanted to make a meaningful difference and to build a school for the children in my home village using local materials.” The execution, however, proved to be tough and challenging – particularly raising the funding needed. At the start of the project, Kéré would travel across the country with a slide projector for weeks and months on end to convince potential donors of his idea. “It isn’t easy to transmit something clearly if you only have a few pictures available and aren’t able to adequately convey the local atmosphere.”

He was overjoyed by the self-initiative the Hevert siblings showed in approaching him and offering practical support. “That experience was the first of its kind.” The siblings were convinced by the philosophy of "Helping others help themselves," the use of natural materials, and the participation of the local people, which also perfectly reflects Hevert’s corporate values to date. Hevert-Arzneimittel also relies on raw materials from nature and seeks to strengthen the body’s self-healing powers with its natural remedies, not to just treat symptoms.

Today, roughly 5,000 people live in Gando, including over 1,000 students – a trend that is on the rise. “I was fortunate enough to gain a broader perspective through education,” explained Kéré in closing. “Later on, I learned how to make bricks out of mud despite not being a stonecutter and learned masonry despite not being a mason. I want to give the children in my home village the opportunity to gain all this experience that formal education offers for young people.”

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