“I am not as British as most people think,” reveals Susanne (Batstone) Bohush. Born in Ipswich, Suffolk, to a German mother and Ukrainian dad, she joined Lloyd’s bank as a Management Trainee at 18 and worked her way through all the departments including Human Resources. “It was there I learned the importance of teamwork, motivation and bringing out the best in people.”
In 1991, she decided to take a break in her career and moved to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin “initially for a couple of years.” She worked in Monaco starting in television and then the corporate world.
Four years later, when her daughter was one, she moved to Menton and has now lived there for more than half her life. “It was a safe place to bring up my two lovely children, who are now 27 and 24, and the town has certainly become livelier over the past few years with – in non-Covid times – lots of entertainment and activities.”
The former treasurer of the British Association Menton says she has always enjoyed helping people and been interested in personal development and holistic health. “I firmly believe in the link between mind, body and soul and am fascinated by the mind and the effect that our thoughts and emotions have on our physical wellbeing,” she remarks.
A chance meeting with an excellent retired Bach Flower Registered Practitioner (BFRP) trainer from the UK inspired her to study at the Bach Centre near Oxford where she completed her qualification in 2015.
Discovered by Dr Bach in the 1920s and 30s, Bach Flowers work by treating the person as a whole and work on any negative emotions by restoring inner harmony and balance. Dr Bach gave up his renowned Harley Street practice to concentrate on helping his clients in this completely natural way.
“Bach Flowers are an excellent tool for fostering a greater understanding of oneself and help people towards being the best version of themselves,” explains Susanne, adding that her role as a practitioner is to help clients become more self-aware and autonomous, responsible for their own healing.
“I have witnessed people becoming more resilient with greater confidence and a clearer vision of their life purpose. Their perception of painful outside events is calmer,” she shares. “I have also seen complete career changes and more ability to deal with day-to-day challenges.”
During Covid, Susanne has been able to do some online consultations. “People have been confronted with anxiousness, loneliness and fear more than usual.”
In addition to her full-time job in Monaco and work as a Bach Flower practitioner, Susanne has spent the last five years raising awareness and fundraising on behalf of Mothers of Africa UK, a charity in Wales founded by a friend in 2004.
In 2017, Mothers of Africa registered as a non-profit association and Organismes de Solidarité internationale in Monaco and two years later, Susanne took over as President of Mothers of Africa in Monaco (she is also Trustee of the UK Charity).
“We came on board in Monaco just as the Shiyala Primary School for 540 children was being built in Zambia. We work in the Chongwe district and our mission is to empower girls through education as we believe that through education they can take control of their lives, promote health and reduce poverty,” describes Susanne.
“We are a listening charity who never impose but wait to be invited. We have a great team, all volunteers, and have fun raising awareness and organising events.”
Typically across the year, Mothers of Africa would host a variety of events – dinners, bowling evenings, cycle rides, walks and a Christmas Market – as well as taking part in the annual Journée International Droit des Enfants and No Finish Line Monaco, but due to Covid they are limited to online functions.
They are hosting an African Dance Class on Zoom on International Women’s Day, Monday, March 8, at 7: 30 pm. “If anyone would like to take part, please make a donation through the White Feather Foundation campaign, which will go towards our next project – building a nursery school for 60 children, hopefully this summer. It is thanks to our ambassador, Julian Lennon, this joint campaign is possible.”
Susanne expressed that Mothers of Africa is also very happy to work with the International School of Monaco’s Philanthropy Club. “Our children at the Shiyala school have just received a very generous donation of solar lamps from Little Sun.com thanks to funds raised by the Early Years at the school,” she shares.
“I have been fortunate to visit Zambia twice, to help run a summer school for 25 children in 2017 and also to hand over the build of new classrooms at theEvergreen Primary School to the education authorities in 2019,” Susanne states.
“Since Covid, we have been working with a local women’s sewing circle in Chongwe, providing handmade face masks to the schools and district hospital. We have also provided PPE, signage and training for Covid to the hospital and given handmade sanitary protection packs to all the girls at the Shiyala and Evergreen schools. We will be extending this to all the girls, some 16,000 people, in the district over the next two years.”
During the Covid pandemic, Susanne has been either working from home or at her office in Monaco. “The time saved on travelling has given me more time to enjoy my garden,” she enthuses. “I have also discovered Zoom, which has been great for connecting.”
Covid has also brought the Mothers of Africa teams in UK and Monaco closer together, resulting in much brainstorming and new project ideas.
“It has been a great time of introspection and gratitude. I think it is very important to make the most of the situation as it is for the moment. Nothing is forever and staying positive rather than resisting definitely helps,” she observes.
Susanne (Batstone) Bohush’s next adventure is to start training to become a Sophrologist later this month. “I am excited to see where that leads me.”
When you make a donation through the White Feather Foundation to help Mothers of Africa Monaco build a nursery school for 50 children in Shiyala, Zambia, you will receive a link for the African Dance Class on Zoom that takes place March 8 at 7:30 pm.