Asylum seekers are often portrayed negatively in the news, usually in terms of their numbers. What we fail to realise, though, is that most asylum seekers flee their homeland out of desperation. Since the ABN AMRO Intercompany Programme has brought me into contact with New Dutch Connections (NDC), an organisation that supports young people in refugee centres, I’ve realised how rough life is for asylum seekers. It’s very special that I can offer them my knowledge and expertise on behalf of the bank.
I think it’s great that the bank gives me the opportunity to help NDC. It makes me proud!
Dorien de Boef Head of the Service Desk, Commercial Clients
Via Stichting Laluz
I hooked up with New Dutch Connections via Stichting Laluz, a foundation that connects professionals with idealistic organisations with a strategic problem. ABN AMRO has teamed up with Laluz for some years now, but this is the first time we have participated in an Intercompany Programme. Together with employees from other companies, we form an advisory club for NDC. This is very special, because it allows ABN AMRO to give back to the community using its employees’ strengths. At the same time, this project gives me the opportunity to develop and forge new contacts. It’s very special that I can offer them my knowledge and expertise on behalf of the bank. It makes me proud!
A new safety net
New Dutch Connections brings young people in refugee centres in contact with a coach, a buddy their own age and an ‘elder’ – somebody with a lot of life experience. This combination goes further than what they usually receive: a bed, bath, bread and legal aid. It’s the contact with others that helps young people to find their way in society and to take control of their future. NDC also brings them in contact with businesses, for example to set up traineeships. This might sound simple, but it involves a lot of work.
Fleeing home at the age of 16
New Dutch Connections has its roots in theatre. Bright, one of the founders, came to the Netherlands as a refugee from Liberia, where he was a well-known actor. NDC uses drama to bridge the gap between committed individuals and refugees. I met a boy from Syria at a performance of the play ‘As I left my father’s house’. He had only been in the Netherlands for a few months, but he could already tell me his story in Dutch. He wanted to improve his Dutch and become a doctor. I was so impressed with him – he was barely sixteen and had fled his homeland. No home, no family, no network to fall back on, yet he was working really hard to create a future for himself. Can you imagine? I wonder if I’d have had the strength to do the same at that age.
New strategic insights
New Dutch Connections has big ambitions: it wants to grow each year by 100% and to roll out its programme to all refugee centres in the Netherlands. This is an enormous challenge, seeing as NDC is basically a two-man operation. Together with other companies we are trying to give them a helping hand. Each team member contributes their own expertise, meaning we can help them with all facets of the organisation’s operations, like giving advice on finances, HR matters and other operational aspects. I’m getting a lot out of this, too. I’m learning from my project colleagues how to look at things from a different perspective. It’s very enriching, both personally and professionally.
About New Dutch Connections
NDC is currently active primarily in the eastern part of the Netherlands and seeks to expand to Utrecht and Amersfoort. The foundation is actively recruiting coaches for young people. For more information, visit www.newdutchconnections.nl.
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