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Sylvie Söderlund

Swiss-Swedish singer, full-time voluntary worker with MRA for 35 years. Chairperson of the board.

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Sylvie Söderlund (Haller) was born in Basel, German speaking Switzerland, in 1948. When she was 3 years old, her parents, who knew MRA, felt they should contribute to the development of the Caux internationl conference centre. Her father gave up a promising carreer in the General Postmaster's Office, to become postmaster of the French-speaking village of Caux, where the Centre was situated, and in this way, serve the people from all over the world who came to the assemblies. Her parents were among the many Swiss who made considerable sacrifices to make this home for the world a reality.

She grew up in an ordinary, hard-working, musical family, and had the privilege to be exposed to the extraordinary atmosphere of these world assemblies, hear many stories of people's experiences, see the plays, hear the music, which touched her deeply.

From an early age, she loved singing, and sang both at home and in the excellent school choir.

After her baccalaureat, she made her own decision to give all her time without salary to the program of Moral Rearmament. The first 4 years were spent on the road in many countries with the musical review "Anything to Declare?" ("Il est permis de se pencher au dehors"). She considers these years as her "university": getting to know other countries, religions and cultures through living in homes wherever they went, and a chance to share her musical talent.

During the conferences at Caux, there was a lot of practical work, particularly as a multilingual telephone operator, serving at meals in the dining room, translating at conversations, and learning to care for individuals.

After that travelling period, she lived in the community of one of the MRA homes in London. During that period, she was asked to become part of the cast of the multi-media show about Frank Buchman "Cross Road", at the Westminster Theatre. (Later the film Crossroad, without the live participation)

From London, she returned to Caux, where she was part of the community that lived there all year round, who were also part of the infrastructure of the conferences. That is where, in 1976, she married Gunnar Söderlund from Sweden, who had also been living there for a number of years.

In 1977, on the invitation of Black and White, they spent 5 months in South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) with an international group of younger people, with a simple musical production based on their own experiences, "Time to Choose".

In 1983, they moved to Sweden with their two children, to live in the MRA home in Stockholm, where they, together with others, hosted many people and events.

Singing remained part of her life. Having recieved voice training, she occasionally gave recitals of songs, in Caux, in Switzerland, France, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom and even one in Moscow.  Accompanied among others by Kathleen Dodds, John Burrows, Inga Wieselgren, Johathan and Elizabeth Sparey. Together with her good friend and fellow-singer Alison Wetterfors and Inga Wieselgren,in 1989 she spent 5 weeks in South Africa, singing in many different locations, including the Praetoria Art Museum, and the home of a teacher in a township. This time was a particularly moving experience as their music gave a platform for people of all races and backgrounds to meet.

When the MRA home in Stockholm was sold in 2002, she and her husband branched out on their own, and have since lived on a farm with grass-fed cattle and a Bed&Breakfast, where they have continued to host people from many backgrounds and live their life philosophy.

Additional names
Nome de solteira "Haller", também conhecida como Sylvia
Birth year
Primary country of residence