Who is Manuela Riedo
Manuela is the only child of Hans Peter and Arlette Riedo. It was her first journey away from home without her parents. They live in the small rural village of Hinterkappelen, just a few kilometres north of Bern. Manuela was in her first year of a Business and Social Administration course at college in the City of Fribourg, located about 30 minutes from where she lived. Before travelling to Ireland she, as part of her studies, had just completed a work placement with a social outreach service that helped prisoners and offenders reintegrate into society. Her job also brought her into contact with families of those serving prison sentences.
It was work she enjoyed and thought worthwhile. Her manager said of her that for such a young person she displayed an “empathy, good humour and professionalism” during her time with them. Manuela had hopes of working in areas such as this, in helping others less fortunate than her. She genuinely wished to become an advocate for the vulnerable and the downtrodden.
Manuela loved music, her favourite song was “1973” by the English singer songwriter James Blunt. Her parents, after her death, found some Irish Music CDs among in her collection. She no doubt had been planning and looking forward very much to her Irish adventure.
Manuela’s death in Galway that October 2007 shocked, repulsed and numbed a nation. Her community back in Switzerland and Hinterkappelen too found it hard to come to terms with how such a young life could encounter such evil on what was her first real trip into to the world alone.
In October 2009, two short years after Manuela’s death Arlette and Hans Peter Riedo returned to Galway and the west of Ireland as guests of honour of a fundraising concert in memory of their daughter. As with Hans Peter and Arlette’s wishes, all monies raised that night and in every subsequent event have been spent in Galway and in Ireland funding professional services who help young victims of sexual violence and rape along with those working in the area of education and prevention. This is their daughter’s legacy.
Since then Manuela’s parents have travelled many times to Galway and the West of Ireland. They have attended each year at the Night for Manuela, have walked the Connemarathon and have been known to enjoy a pint and dance among friends to the lilt of “A Galway Girl” in O’Connor’s Pub in Salthill. They have formed a close bond of friendship with many they now call their “Irish Family”. Each trip to Ireland elicits a strange emotion in them, but they continue to come. They have said they feel Manuela’s presence and spirit in the skies and winds above Galway Bay. The Claddagh Ring emblem of loyalty, love and friendship, a symbol of Galway, adorns Manuela’s gravestone in Hinterkappelen.