On this page you'll learn all about the team behind Vivamos Mejor. Note: we know it's confusing to have two people named Sabine (especially since their last names are also similar, Maurer and Maier, and they both hail from Eastern Switzerland) but they are not the same person!
Sabine started with Vivamos Mejor in 2005 as co-director and head of Colombia/Brazil after finishing her studies in social science and NPO management. Because her heart beats for Latin America, Sabine found her way back to Vivamos Mejor after gaining leadership experience at two other NGOs. Today, as director, Sabine ensures that the programmes, fundraising, and administration are in lock step, and she manages strategic contacts and regularly reports to the Board of Trustees.
At the age of 20 Sabine boarded a plane to Brazil and her work at various Brazilian NGOs has left a strong mark on her. Since then, it's been clear to her that she wanted to dedicate her work to those who are less privileged. She has travelled through various countries in Latin America and Africa. As a trained primary school teacher, Sabine is convinced that all children deserve a fair start and that participatory development collaboration can make a difference.
Her three lively boys keep Sabine on her toes and put her pedagogical convictions to the test time and again. To recharge, Sabine does Pilates and she likes to hike around Uetliberg. As a resident of a family cooperative in Zurich, Sabine now lives the community experience she gained in Brazil.
Head of Area Programme and Project Management for Nicaragua
Ira has been enriching Vivamos Mejor since 2016 with her experience in development cooperation and humanitarian aid in Switzerland and abroad, which she gained at UNHCR and Caritas Switzerland, among others institutions. She studied international relations in Geneva. As Head of Area, she is the interface between project managers and the director, establishing new partnerships, designing new projects, and strategically implementing Vivamos Mejor's programme.
Ira has always known that she wanted to work in development cooperation. Latin America has been very close to her heart ever since her language stays in Colombia, Argentina, and Brazil. Ira believes with conviction that Switzerland, as wealthy nation, should do its part in the fight against global inequality.
Ira loves to hike and is an adventurous cook in the kitchen. She often serves her friends bold, improvised creations that (mostly) go down a treat. Ira looks forward to taking her four-year-old daughter every week to the children's chorale where she sits back in fascination of her daughter's budding passion for music.
Project Management for Brazil and Colombia
After finishing his studies in biology, Jan joined Vivamos Mejor in 2017 as a trainee. It was a good fit for both parties and now Jan oversees the management and the correct implementation of projects in Brazil and Colombia, as well as the impact measurement. Prior to his coming to Vivamos Mejor, Jan gained practical and academic experience by working at a university in Peru and he was a project manager for a local NGO in the field.
Jan lived nearly five years in Latin America, mostly in Peru. He fell in love with the Latin American lifestyle – and with a Peruvian. His work experience at a local NGO showed him that many people in Latin America lack prospects, which is why Jan does what he does.
There's no hiding his talent (and second job) as his lunch always draws the attention of his colleagues. If he's not in the office or the kitchen, you can find Jan on the football pitch or practicing his favourite boardsports: on the slopes or in the surf (even if most of his talent lies in the kitchen).
Project Management for Guatemala and Honduras
The chemistry between Joachim and Vivamos Mejor was so strong that it drew Joachim away from his native Freiburg im Breisgau all the way to Zurich. He has been overseeing the projects in Guatemala and Honduras since 2019. A forestry graduate with postgraduate education in development cooperation, Joachim is an expert in sustainable agriculture, forests, water, and climate. He brings years of field and project management experience, for example with the Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst, Brot für die Welt, and terre des hommes schweiz.
Joachim has literally travelled the world. Before his studies, he travelled through Latin America for over a year and completed his diploma thesis in Argentina. He worked for two years in Mali and one year in Honduras in addition to the 30+ project trips he's taken in Latin America and Africa. The experience he has garnered motivates him to reduce the socioeconomic differences in development.
Joachim has passed on his love of nature to his two (almost) adult children; very often you'll find the Jung family out in the woods. Joachim himself loves climbing up mountains and wandering through the countryside – for him the most important thing is to be out in the fresh air.
Head of Area Fundraising and Communications
Sabine started with Vivamos Mejor in 2016 in institutional fundraising and took over the fundraising and communications area in 2018. She is also overseeing the introduction of the new CRM solution. Prior to coming to Vivamos Mejor, she worked in public fundraising for Pro Senectute Canton of Zurich.
Her time in Haiti in 2002 opened Sabine's eyes to the world's inequalities. A successful employee donation programme in 2004 at a large telecom provider sparked Sabine's interest in fundraising. She loves the start-up vibe that Vivamos Mejor has, the size of the organisation, the regional focus, and most of all the full commitment to development cooperation.
Early on, longer stays in the USA and Ireland introduced Sabine to new cultures. Today she practices her communicative finesse at home with her two teenage daughters (along with two guinea pigs). She regularly meets up with friends and family, and in her free time Sabine loves to play tennis at TC Fehraltorf.
Fundraising and Communications
Following his economics studies, Michael worked at various advertising firms and marketing departments. After a lengthy stay in South America, he decided to apply his accumulated communications know-how at Vivamos Mejor in 2018. Michael oversees publications, media relations, and public fundraising with convincing target group-oriented communication over all channels.
Michael lived and worked in Chile for over three years and ever since, Latin America has been very close to his heart. And he does not take for granted what a privilege it is to grow up in a country like Switzerland. Therefore, he wants to help those who must get by with fewer prospects in life.
Since June 2019, Michael has been sharing entertaining stories of his life as a father. His now drastically reduced free time has not reduced Michael's love of sport; in the winter you can find him split-boarding in the deep powder, or kite surfing and climbing in the summer.
Laure serves as the Vivamos Mejor's bridge to the French-speaking world. Hailing from Jura, Laure has been duly committed to fundraising in Western Switzerland for Vivamos Mejor since 2019. She maintains contacts, gathers information, and expands the Vivamos Mejor network. Laure started in fundraising in 2010 when she worked for Swisscontact and then later for Aqua Alimenta; prior to this she worked in tourism.
It was an accident (or destiny) that Laure ended up at Vivamos Mejor. She was immediately captivated by Vivamos Mejor's vision and values, because she, too, wants to do more than simply earn a pay cheque with her work.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of experiencing Laure's second occupation can tell you how worthwhile a friendship with Laure is. She has even brought her massage equipment to the office. Laure can definitely be described as a bookworm and she likes to relax by doing Pilates and listening to music.
Administration and Finance
Iris manages our accounting, takes care of the administration in human resources and manages IT. She is currently busy making our structures for digital administration stable and does not find the time to describe the team text in more detail at the moment. One thing is clear: At Vivamos Mejor, finances are also a matter of the heart. Iris has always been committed to ensuring that everyone has the same starting conditions - and she knows more about numbers and administration than anyone else. In her exciting life alongside Vivamos as a freelance artist, Iris realises sound and electronic arts projects and works as a lecturer in Zurich and Bern.
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Fundraising and Communications
After earning her bachelor's in applied languages, it was clear to Soraya that she wanted to work in the intercultural sector. Through the key words "Colombia" and "communications" Soraya found Vivamos Mejor. Since then she's designed the website, has been Vivamos Mejor's voice on social media, collaborated with the media and various organisers, and helped with the publications. Thanks to Soraya, Vivamos Mejor finally has a Chief Happiness Officer.
Soraya loves music and the Spanish language. Last year she travelled for seven months through Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. Working with Vivamos Mejor has shown Soraya that your actions truly can make an impact and she is committed to working for Latin America.
Soraya is not one to sit still in the office and is constantly in motion. She is a passionate jazz dance instructor, she swings her hips to the rhythms of Latin American music, is a pole dance enthusiast, and the roar of her motorcycle can be heard throughout the city.