Enough meals for 1,5 year in just 10 days

Enough meals for 1,5 year in just 10 days

Enough meals for 1,5 year in just 10 days

During the summer of 2014 I arrived in Malaysia near Ipoh through the AIESEC (International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences), to provide information on the subject of sexual relationships to university- and high school-students.

In Malaysia there is no education at all on the subject of sexuality and healthy relationships. That is why a lot goes wrong in connection to this topic, e.g. SOA’s (sexual transmitted diseases), teenage-mothers and the huge differences between men and woman. Especially the last subject is a topic I am interested in and in which I would like to make a difference and to see changes made. I noticed this difference of gender almost everywhere, except for the backpack-locations.

For instance at the university campus where I lived there were some differences, like the swimming pool is open 7 days a week but only 2 days for woman. The girls hardly ever walk alone and surely won’t sit on their own in a campus cafeteria. I was stared at when I was reading a book in the campus cafe during my time off and boys were asking whether they could sit next to me, as if I were a fancy-fair-attraction. After a while it occurred to me that I was the only one who did something silly like that, the rest of the female students preferred to be warmly tucked away in their rooms.

During the AIESEC-project a communication training was given by Ivy, who founded the Women’s Aid Organization (WAO). After the training it came to my knowledge that the WAO is committed to achieve fair rights for women and focuses on creating a world without violence against women. As a matter of fact when i.e. women who have been domestically abused and officially file a complaint at the police station, nothing what so ever happens. Women are not taken seriously, by the police and therefore also not by their surroundings. As a result of this attitude women regularly end up in a social isolation with neither job nor education. To these women the WAO commits by means of a safe house where these women can process their traumas and prepare themselves for an independent life.

Separate from this, a Child Care Centre exists, in order to enable women to fully focus on themselves to process their traumas as well as their offspring can do so. Moreover they can learn the proper way of conduct, because before they came to the Centre they only had had wrong examples in their lives. At the end of this conversation I had the feeling that I had to do something, something sustainable for what this organization really was in need of.

The question was very easy: “ What at this very moment could help WAO to go forward?” Her look was priceless, because it rarely occurs that a 22-year-old student who has the brutality of thinking she can make a tiny difference and dares to say so, can actually help. I knew I could help. A wish list was made, for example they needed a beamer to provide information for the women about healthy relationships and their legal-rights. And if it were possible to ask for more, they asked for some money to buy healthy food for the Child Care Centre.

So, I wrote a letter and sent it per e-mail to all my friends and acquaintances and I placed it on my Facebook-page. My goal was set at approx. € 680 which would be exactly enough for the beamer and for 2 months’ food. I gave everybody about 10 days, to enable me to have enough time to transfer it to WAO before going back to The Netherlands. When I looked at my account after 10 days, instead of having received €680 the total amount of €2800 was transferred to my account. This amount is enough for the beamer and no more concern for 18 months of healthy alimentation.

It was amazing to see how many people, whom you know very well, had donated, but also people I had lesser contact with. The feeling you get from the idea that these people have confidence in you, makes me speechless. Initiatively I expected that it would be nice to give something to the organization, though I had never thought it would have this kind of impact on me amongst others, the confidentiality and trust from the donators: friends and family from The Netherlands.

Before my trip back to The Netherlands Ivy asked me to join in on a ‘Stop Rape Protest, and as a ‘thank you, for what I had done for WAO’ I was invited to stay at her house afterwards. It was exactly the kind of protest I had imagined. Protesting people were walking around with candlelights and cardboards with texts like: “My dress is no yes”.

The following day I was allowed to visit Child Care Centre, a simple building with 2 bedrooms, each set up with 5 bunk beds. Here, I was allowed to take just a few shots to honor the privacy of the children. House rules of conduct hung on the wall, these rules they had to learn anew because of the bad examples they had had at home. It was so good to see the children and the fact that they will grow adequately in the coming 18 months just by means of healthy vegetables on their plates, enabled by all those who donated.

This was the utmost best present I have ever given anyone.

Eva van Beek – Leiden

PS:
When I was still traveling and I had sent the mail and posted the message on Facebook message, family and friends forwarded this mail to their friends / family. So eventually an employee from Cordiad (Dutch NGO) received my mail. She was in charge of a project against poverty in the Netherlands. Through the grapevine I was told that she wanted to get in touch with me, so I sent her an email from Malaysia that the internet connection is very bad and asked her if it was okay if contacted as soon as I was back in the Netherlands.

I called the day after I returned and she asked me to come over for an informal talk. Naive as I am, I did not expect a job interview for an internship, because I still have to get my bachelor this year. It turned out to be a job interview and just because I was not prepared, the interview went very well in a natural and friendly way. Because of my traveling and completing my aid project successfully I could answer and proof the questions regarding taking initiative, dealing with different people/cultures etc.

The result is that I secured a six month internship (till end of March 2015) for three days a week, working within the project “Co-operative entrepreneurship in the Netherlands”, where you actually help and support people with a distance to the labor market (social security, gender, etc.) to get back to work .

Charles Giesberger