For twelve years Maria von Blumencron fulfilled her dream to be an actress. Then one day whilst zapping between TV channels she was confronted by the picture of two young children who had frozen to death while trying to escape from Tibet. This moment changed her life completely. She swapped her role to become the one behind the camera in order to document the desperate flight on foot of Tibetan children over the Himalayas. She has worked as a filmmaker and author since completing her first documentation ,Flight over the Himalalays‘. Her attention is not restricted however only to Asia; her focus is also on Russia and Germany.
Maria’s books and films always elicit a huge amount of public willingness to lend a hand. Shelter108 was established in order to coordinate this support professionally and to ensure that help is brought to the right people in the right places.
Maria von Blumencron first met Jörg Arnold in 2000 shortly before ,Flight over the Himalayas‘ was to be filmed. It was Jörg’s spontaneous decision to assist Maria and accompany her and the six Tibetan refugee children on their arduous route to freedom.
Jörg was a founder member of Shelter108 and he is today chairman.
For more than two years Michael Landwehr was a natural sciences teacher in the Tibetan Children’s Village Dharamsala. He is one of very few foreign teachers to have worked there for an extended period of time. During his stay he developed close contacts to both colleagues and children. He himself has fostered three children in the Children’s Village. He returned to Germany in February 2009 and took charge of the Shelter108 office in Cologne. Apart from general administrative duties Michael is also in charge of sponsorships, sponsorship trips, educational tours for the
children and special projects.
Ulrich Hoffmann found us by chance in 2011 when he was taking a walk through the Belgian Quarter of Cologne. His love of Buddhism and the fact that his tax consultancy is located in nearby Dusseldorf meant that it was almost an inevitability when in Autumn 2014 he was appointed as our treasurer. His role as commercial mediator means that he also provides invaluable advice in many other respects and has become a real friend of Shelter108.
Christian Gatniejewski is a professional mountaineer and paramedic who joined Shelter108 after hearing one of Maria von Blumencron’s book readings in Leipzig. Three years later found him in the Himalayas on a treacherous trek to find Tibetan refugees. Christian looked after the refugees’s severe frostbite calmly and with incredible professional know-how. It was Christian who saved so many fingers and toes from amputation. The fact that the expedition was a success is largely due to his efforts and experience. Christian supports Shelter108 by holding lectures and presentations. People who attend these say that they are really not to be missed!
Dick Davies was born in 1950 Redditch, Worcestershire, (England). He has lived in Germany since 1972. Until 2008 he worked in the advertising industry and was a partner in his own Frankfurt advertising agency. Married since 1972, Dick is now a proud grandfather.
"As a passionate father and grandfather it is almost unbearable when I hear how terrible life is for some children. And in contrast how wonderful a child's laughter sounds. If we at Shelter108 e.V. can bring a lttle happiness, warmth and optimism to kids who have no hope, then perhaps we too can have faith in a brighter future."
Helena Himmelsbach completed a 2-month traineeship with Shelter108 as part of her Asian Studies course at university (studying amongst others Hindi, Sanskrit and Tibetan), after which we were very loathe to let her go! Since then she frequently helps us at our information stand at various events and with new projects and translations! From 2016 she will organise and supervise her own trips for sponsors. Further, she is also a trainee responsible for purchasing at welcome-kaufenundhelfen.de.
Jan was a board member of Shelter108 for eight years until the end of 2015. Whilst studying he worked as a production assistant on several of Maria von Blumencron's films. He was always there to advise and help Lhakpa, Chime, Pema, Dolkar, Dhondup and Tamding (“The Six“) and was instrumental in bringing them to Germany. Having graduated from school in the Childen's Village it is often very hard for young Tibetans to make their way in exile in India. The pilot project with "The Six" was intended to demonstrate how worthwhile it can be to continue to support sponsored children after their schooling is finished and to provide opportunities for further education or training and integrate them into our society. This was only possible thanks to the very generous financial commitment and extreme engagement of wonderful sponsors.