Albina du Boisrouvray
On May 8, 2002, Albina du Boisrouvray presented United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan with a symbolic safety net containing signatures of two million people around the world urging governments to act now to effectively address the needs of millions of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. Every name is a stitch that weaves this gigantic symbolic safety net.
“Albina has championed the cause of children orphaned by AIDS since the beginning of the pandemic, when few people had the understanding, courage and determination to make their voices heard.” (Dr. Peter Piot, former Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS – UNAIDS).
Albina before FXB
After a childhood in New York and a cosmopolitan adolescence, Albina du Boisrouvray settled in the Canton of Valais, in Switzerland, where she met and married Bruno Bagnoud. Following the birth of their son, François-Xavier, in 1961, she studied psychology and philosophy at the University of Sorbonne in Paris.
She worked as a freelance journalist notably for the “Nouvel Observateur”. Her journalistic scoop on the circumstances surrounding the death of Che Guevara was cited by l’Express and by French and Scandinavian television channels.
From 1969 to 1986, she worked in film production, with a documentary for Pathé: « 36, le grand tournant » and then, through Albina Productions. In 17 years, her company produced 22 films including “les Zozos” (1972), Pascal Thomas’ first film, “Police Python” (1975) by Alain Corneau, “L’important c’est d’aimer” (The important thing is to love) (1975) by Andrzej Zulawski, “Je suis timide mais je me soigne” (1978) by Pierre Richard or “Fort Saganne” (1984) by Alain Corneau.
After the death of her only child, François-Xavier, in 1986, Albina sold her film production company as well as 3/4 of her personal assets and committed herself to Médecins du Monde alongside Bernard Kouchner, with whom she went on a mission, notably to Lebanon.
Since then, she has devoted all her energy, credibility and solid entrepreneurial experience to humanitarian causes as well as economic and social development and research by creating multiple programs around the world, including the innovative FXBVillage poverty reduction model in 1991 and the creation of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University’s School of Public Health in 1992.
The creation of FXB
François-Xavier Bagnoud was a helicopter pilot who specialized in rescue operations and dedicated his life to providing assistance to others. In 1989, Albina du Boisrouvray, along with family and friends, founded the Association François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB International), an international non-governmental organization to pursue, in the field of development, the rescue missions that he led, and to perpetuate the values of generosity and compassion that guided François-Xavier’s life.
FXB’s mission is to provide extremely poor families with the tools and support they need to become socially and economically self-sufficient and give their children a dignified future. With a presence in 14 countries and more than 450 employees, FXB currently runs 50 programs in the areas of economic and community development (FXBVillage), education, health, protection and climate change.
The FXBVillage Poverty Reduction Model
The main innovation of FXB’s approach since 1991 has been the provision of seed capital – instead of a loan – to enable the economic strengthening of families participating in FXBVillage programs. Indeed, this small capital combined with business management and financial literacy training – given to participants in the first year of the program allows them to start Income Generating Activities (IGA/mircoenterprises) and facilitate their financial inclusion without worrying about having to repay a loan. FXB’s financial support is decreasing as families become more economically independent. Indeed, the newly created microenterprises enable families o gradually obtain sufficient income to meet their daily needs and continue to prosper after the end of the program.
Since 1991, FXB lifts 10 people out of poverty every day through its FXBVillage programs.
- 1993 : Title of “Doctor of Humane Letters” by the University of Michigan.
- 1996 : Albina was made a “John Harvard Fellow” by Harvard University.
- 1999 : Special Recognition Award for “Responding to the HIV/AIDS Orphan crisis” at the second conference on Global Strategies for the prevention of HIV transmission from mothers to infants in Montreal.
- 2001 : Albina was made “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur” by the French Government for her pioneering work in palliative care projects (FXB Palliative Home Care Centers are located in Paris, France and in Sion, Switzerland). The same year, Harvard students presented her with the “Harvard Project for International Health and Development Award”.
- 2002 : Albina received the North-South Prize from the Council of Europe together with Xanana Gusmão, President of East Timor. The North-South Prize is awarded each year to two persons, one from the North, one from the South, who have actively contributed to the development and defense of the rights of the individual, pluralist democracy, and the partnership between North and South. That same year, thanks to the innovative projects she creates and leads within FXB, Albina was one of the first 30 members of the Schwab Foundation’s “Social Entrepreneurs Group”. This recognition allows the group’s social entrepreneurs to participate in the World Economic Forum in Davos to present and share their expertise with world leaders in politics, business, civil society and the public sector.
- 2003 : Albina du Boisrouvray received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the 4th International Conference on AIDS in India, in recognition for the projects that she initiated in the 35 States and Territories of India. The same year, the Rutgers (previously the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey) conferred upon her a “Doctor of Humane Letters Degree”.
- 2004 : Award of the prestigious “Thai Komol Keemthong Foundation Award of Outstanding Personality 2004” for the work undertaken since the early 1990s in Thailand and Myanmar.
- 2007 : The French “Fédération nationale des Clubs Convergences” gave her an award for her activities on behalf of orphans and vulnerable children affected by AIDS in the world.
- 2008 : the French TV Channel 5 devoted a full documentary within its “Empreintes” Collection to Albina du Boisrouvray. “On behalf of the son” directed by Olivier Horn, produced by Gedeon Programs and France 5, was filmed in Thailand, Burma and from Uganda to the Swiss Alps, following Albina and meeting beneficiaries of her programs.
- 2009 : the French President, Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, presented Albina du Boisrouvray the insignia of Officer in l’Ordre National du Mérite. The same year, she received the BNP Paribas Jury’s Special Prize in recognition of Albina’s 20 years of action on behalf of AIDS orphans and vulnerable children.
- 2011 : Frederic Mitterrand, the French Minister of Culture and Communication, made her “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres”.
- 2014 : In India, Albina received the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) Humanitarian Award. This price honors and recognizes individuals with exceptionally high contribution to the society in various fields relating to social issues and who have distinguished themselves as true humanitarians.
- 2016 : Albina was conferred the French distinction “Officer of the Legion of Honor.” Highest decoration bestowed in France, the latter rewards the extent and quality of Albina du Boisrouvray’s tireless action in favor of the poor over the past 27 years.
- 2017 : the European Center of Music in Bougival (France) inscribed her name in the Academy of Honor constituted in the name of the therapeutic benefits of Music.
- 2019 : the Board of Directors of the Jodhpur School of Public Health in India awarded Albina the Excellence in Global Public Health Diplomacy Award in recognition of her outstanding work in Rajasthan since 1996.
Albina strongly believes that investing in children, youth and women is investing in world peace and security.