07 November 2008 Geneva fiesta raises money for World ORTs Latin America Campaign ORT Switzerlands reputation for showing its supporters a good time was raised to new heights with a Mexican theme event to raise money for World ORTs Latin America Campaign. More than 200 members of Genevas social elite gathered at the exclusive lakeside Hotel Beau-Rivage for an evening of fine food, an auction of sumptuous gifts and some tequila-fuelled dancing. Despite the looming international financial crisis, more than 200,000 Swiss Francs ($170,000) was pledged, nearly half of it through the auction. The money will go to the four-year Latin America Campaign, which has already seen remarkable benefits for the continents Jewish communities after less than two years. Each of the campaigns major beneficiary countries Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay are matching international donations through local fundraising. Smaller communities, such as Peru and Cuba, rely on overseas support. The south-of-the-border ambience was largely created by Arturo and Monica Merikanskas who brought decorations as well as musicians with them from Mexico. It was a great event; a lot of fun, said Mr Merikanskas. People were very excited and they got very much into the Mexican party atmosphere. The Swiss dont have a reputation for getting very excited so it was a bit of a surprise to see everyone drinking tequila and dancing. ORT Switzerland Director Vanessa Cholat said the relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere was typical of their gala events and a significant factor in their success. A lot of very important people attend our events and they like to come not only because its for a good cause but because they know its going to be fun and its not going to be pretentious, Ms Cholat said. Before the dancing, ORT Switzerland President Robert Equey addressed the event reminding guests how important a good education is for children to be able to look towards a bright future. Even though we are a Jewish organisation we are non-sectarian and open to everyone, Mr Equey told the diners, many of whom were not Jewish. Among the guests were dozens of graduates of ORT Anieres, the Central Training Institute that operated near Geneva between 1949 and the early 1990s. Hundreds of students from 19 European countries, Africa, Asia and America passed through Anieres to learn the latest techniques in vocational education as well as general and Jewish studies. Students included non-Jews from developing countries in which World ORT was running non-sectarian International Cooperation programmes. The event also provided an opportunity to inform guests about ORT in general as well as its Latin American programmes in particular. A video was played showing how ORT Mexico benefits children and adults to learn employable skills. The video focused on ORT Mexicos Media Training Centre, whose inauguration was the first step in the Latin America Campaign.