Local Goal Getters Rick Alberigs & Eric Meyer, Founders of Take Twee

Local Goal Getters Rick Alberigs & Eric Meyer

Local Goal Getters Rick Alberigs & Eric Meyer, Founders of Take Twee, individual narratives collectively tell a story

For this week’s Local Goal Getter, we had a heartwarming conversation with Rick Alberigs & Eric Meyer, the founders of Take Twee. Take Twee symbolizes an artistic collaboration of two generations, who co-created out of affinity with each-others content. They have an understanding despite having dissimilar experiences, from technical skills to diverse backgrounds. Additionally, they do not settle for a single take instead they aim to portray depth and a multi-layered character. Take Twee especially gives the opportunity for others to share their personal journeys in an approachable way, by shying away from compartmentalization. A combination of visual and audio elements causes faces and emotions to become associated with a theme.

Take Twee

Take Twee was established as a foundation in April 2016 by Eric Meyer and Rick Alberigs. They bumped into each other through an intermediary, and immediately had a substance-defined connection. Nevertheless, the design of Take Twee has been a long and gradual process. After first having cooperated on a pilot project, it became clear that this working relationship deserved continuity.

“Individual narratives of people collectively tell a story”

They try to get people out of a bubble by showing a variety of perspectives per topic. Especially in a multicultural city like Maastricht where many do not even know their neighbor. 

According to Eric, your bubble is still quite large in elementary school, but it thins out at every level you grow into adulthood. From the moment you enter tertiary education you primarily engage with the people of that program, faculty, or sector, a type of segmentation. Take Twee wants to separate people from prejudices by awaking curiosity about others on the basis of their natural disposition. Take Twee’s vision has been observed in retrospect, a beautiful conclusion to their work.

Video-portraiture

The current style of the portraits gradually developed. Initially, the portraits were created separately from the audio narratives. The idea was to let someone’s culture and background shine on canvas by capturing their essence in a confidential atmosphere, such as their homes, only this composition did not work. Eventually, they noticed that they needed a secluded area to work in and transformed a space in the industrial park into a studio. 

They also came to know the first portrait-taker, Kamanzi of Ugandan nationality, through an intermediary. After extensively fathoming how best to portray his life experiences, they arrived at an abstract and minimalist style by using man-sized portraits with a black backdrop. A unique offline one-on-one experience is created, nothing else can be seen but the person on the canvas.

“These portraits are very intimate, they carry a piece of a person’s soul, a story we try to translate as earnest as possible in the exhibits”

Through meet & greets, lively conversations arise between the audience and the person being portrayed. You cannot predict the reaction of the public, you never truly know what appeals to them. Eric and Rick have noticed that people often seek resemblance with the one depicted. Similarly, the person behind the canvas undergoes an emotional journey themselves; not only do the portraits come close to the attendees, but they themselves are also often deeply moved for simply being seen for once.

 

Transitional phases

The exhibits have featured current and self-evident themes of our time in relation to Nature, Religion, Migration, and Crisis, such as the pandemic for example. In this regard, it is important to note that Take Twee is not trying to make a statement but a reflection of a person who shares their story. The exhibit on migration was born out of curiosity, often a lot of things are said about the reasoning behind someone’s departure from their former home, and yet we rarely know the actual motives.

“Not a political signature, completely humanistic in the hope that people might look out for each other”

What happens to you when the stability in your life falls away. When everything is comfortable you learn relatively little, it is when you are taken out of your comfort zone that you discover the most about yourself and the world around you. People who relate to crisis, religion, and migration go through many pivotal ​events. The theme Crisis had started in a pandemic, which later evolved into a project that shows the implications one faces when balance is lost. Take Twee is currently working on a repackaged series that projects people who have a connection to nature, featuring a gardener, a beekeeper, and an 85-year-old hunter.

Faces behind the canvas

Take Twee does not have a specific target group, but they are fortunate to feature Identities in an approachable location, Centre Ceramique. A dream location that virtually functions as the living room of the city. Through word of mouth, they came into contact with most individuals. 

“We do not base our work on people with extreme stories, the world is not black and white, on the contrary, we are in a gray mass, in which you can find the beauty.”

It is against Take Twee’s concept of making one narrative leading, considering the exhibits are built from a multitude of perspectives. According to Rick, when you highlight one person you misdirect the conversation towards a singular narrative. Hence, they do not display posters with images for the exhibits. As Eric says, one face is not suitable to represent a whole project.

 

Curious about their commitment

Is Take Twee’s story tantalizing you to see Identities live? This exhibition is free to visit at Centre Ceramique until 10 October 2021. Or catch them at a meet & greet on September 11, when three new portraits from the Nature series will be exhibited.

Take a look at the website of Take Twee: Website

Author: Jo-Anne Jaegermann

Pictures: Jo-Anne Jaegermann


Local Goal Getter Borut Vovsek, event manager Foodbank Maastricht

Local Goal Getter Borut Vovsek, event manager Foodbank Maastricht and coordinator Foodbank space @ Landbouwbelang, food for thought

For this week’s Local Goal Getter, we had a thought-provoking conversation with Borut Vovsek, the event manager of Foodbank Maastricht and coordinator of initiative’s home space in Landbouwbelang. Foodbank Maastricht is a non-profit organization raising public awareness about the global and local problem of food waste. They do this in several ways, foremost by teaching people about prevention methods for reducing food waste in households. They teach about sustainable practices in the kitchen, and they do it by using food from the market that would otherwise be thrown away. This way potential food waste is transformed into fresh food packages on Fridays or a tasty meal at their sustainability dinners on Wednesdays. All this happens in their Foodbank space at Landbouwbelang.

Starting from scratch

The idea for the current Foodbank Maastricht initiative has started more than a decade ago by a few housemates of the former Mandril squat at Boschstraat. As the story goes, one Friday afternoon they have noticed that at the end of the weekly open market one of the food vendors was about to discard unsold food into a trash bin, and they asked if they could instead take it home. Afterwards, their food pickups became a regular weekly practice and the amount of food they collected grew fast beyond their personal needs. Therefore they decided to start sharing it with their friends’ circle and established a Foodbank Maastricht group on Facebook. Borut joined this initiative and helped out together with many other volunteers. At one point the Mandril squat got evicted and the initial organizers moved away, however several participants in this circle stayed behind and joined forces to find a new spot for Foodbank and to continue the activity.

The Landhuis building in the cultural freezone Landbouwbelang (LBB), a municipality-owned terrain in Maastricht’s city centre, soon after became the new location for Foodbank. Landhuis also contained a small kitchen space, which enabled Foodbankers to start thinking about possible cooking activities and to organize Friday’s dinners for and with the wider public. The idea caught on, especially among the students and other regular visitors of the LBB, and soon the number of participants  grew beyond the limitations of the small house. Consequently another move was on order, this time to the Eetcafé spot on the second floor of the LBB building.  Unfortunately at the end of 2015 the municipality decided that due to the safety concerns all large activities in there needed to stop, which meant that the Foodbank Maastricht faced yet another challenge. Faced with a threat of becoming ‘homeless’ and without space for its popular activities, the decision was made to create a new place on the ground floor of the building, which is now known as Foodbank space.  Looking further down the future current spot is likely to be yet another temporary space since the LBB estate is meant to be soon sold and repurposed for commercial undertaking. And such developments can take that definitely take up a lot of energy – effort that volunteers with limited resources (also in time) could much better spend, if having a stable environment and being able to focus on their primary goal.

“We had to partially rebuilt a rather large area of the LBB’s event space, because nothing was there when we started, not even the inner walls of our current space”

When the municipality increased the pressure in 2017-2018 for Landbouwbelang to move out, Foodbankers faced a question of whether they wanted to fight for the LBB and their spot in the heart of Maastricht, find yet another new home, or simply cease with all activities. Although it was a risky move, they invested all their savings and renovated the space in the summer of 2018 with around ten volunteers working each day for several weeks ten hours daily in order to make the space as functional and inspirational as possible.

Sources of food

The focal point of Foodbank has always been to reduce local food waste and consequently contribute to a more sustainable planet. Eventually, also their original food supplier from the market started to notice the large amount of food that they unnecessarily ‘threw away’ each week and subsequently reduced the proportions of food they sold at the market. Foodbank’s involvement essentially lead to less food being wasted, however, this also meant that Foodbank Maastricht had to find new sources of potential food waste. Therefore they decided to approach all other vendors at the market. By being present on the market every week, month after month, year after year, the trusty relationship with vendors started to grow, and the amount of food in their shopping carts increased enormously, from 2 to 3 carts originally to 20 to 25 nowadays, and they do not expect this growth to discontinue.

“These market stall vendors nowadays expect us to come on a weekly basis. They might not know who of us will approach them and might not even recognize the face of the person, but they know that Foodbank Maastricht with its shopping carts will be there, and they keep us in mind”

Food giveaways

The pandemic disrupted Foodbank’s day-to-day activities. They used to host weekly board games nights together with Board Game Club Maastricht, poetry evenings, comedy stand-ups and several cooking events. When COVID-19 caused a lockdown, Foodbank Maastricht was pushed to find an alternative way to raise awareness and reduce the continuous inflow of food waste. Therefore they started to organize food giveaways in the form of a free market, a safe and manageable way to repurpose food that would otherwise be thrown away.

“COVID-19 frightened us all, but did not stop us! Following the regulations helped give people the feeling it was safe to continue to come to these places”

It is important to note that with the prolonged state of the pandemic people’s resources and savings also started to deplete, which consequently caused Foodbank Maastricht to be the last resort for many of them to get their weekly fresh food.

After the government’s lifting of the certain Covid-19 restrictions, they created a new small scale cooking event on Wednesdays because Fridays are nowadays due to the heavy workload with food distribution reserved for their food giveaway event.

“Even when we could start cooking gatherings again, we continued with food giveaways, because the amount of food we received could not all be used up in these dinners. We are still a fully volunteer-run initiative and with limited resources, yet we also wish to be as efficient as possible when it comes to our mission and focus.”

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, their workshops currently revolve around a smaller audience than in the past, however learning practical ways to diminish food waste remains part of their primary concerns. Their sustainability dinners, based on the principle of learning by doing, help workshop participants to see the path on how to effectively reduce their personal food waste.

A brown banana

One of Borut’s primary concerns with Foodbank Maastricht is to stop people from having an idealistic idea of food. Its purpose is to be our nutritional resource, not an object of art.

“sometimes fruits are even tastier when they do not look like they would fit a commercial catalogue because they are ripe”

Fruits and vegetables do not have to be shiny and of perfect shape to be edible, and people that go to Foodbank Maastricht understand this essential point. If something has a dark spot or a brown leaf you can remove that part, and still eat rest of the food.

Raising awareness and educating people about the proper management of their own food is at the core of Foodbank Maastricht.  As Borut says, in order to change your behaviour you first need to realize the problems that come with wasting food. Everyone can relate to food – you need it to survive -, yet we think so little about it, let alone about the cost of the production of food. We use a tremendous amount of energy and resources to produce foods for the population of our small planet nowadays, and this will even further increase in the next 30 years when we will presumably hit the nine billion population mark. All this is further worsened by the fact that people nowadays eat more diverse foods, meaning we produce more foods per person as we did back in the day, however, we still eat about the same amounts. Consequently, more food is and will be also in the future, thrown away – if we don’t properly educate people on food management.

A vegan diet

Although Foodbank Maastricht only cooks vegan meals, everyone is welcome to attend their events. There is a twofold reason behind the fact that Foodbank Maastricht strongly supports veganism. Firstly, Foodbankers share the thought that this type of diet is better for the environment because it requires fewer resources and can be used for a longer period of time. Secondly, vegan ingredients are better from a food safety perspective, considering it can sometimes be hard to tell whether certain meats or kinds of milk are still edible.

“Safety is priority for us in anything we do and food is much easier to manage through a vegan diet”

While the expiration date of animal dairy products, for example, milk, are usually around the corner, those of cashews or oaths for example expire much later and are often good also beyond the expiry date.

A green alternative

SDG 2, zero hunger, ADG11, sustainable cities and communities,  and SDG 12, responsible consumption and production, relate closely to the mission and work of Foodbank Maastricht.

Foodbank is itself a case of how we are never too old to learn and to adopt new, more sustainable behaviour. In the old days, when even the initiative could use the food anymore, they might have to throw it away. However two years ago, just before the pandemic hit, they have decided to follow the path of zero waste. They have redesigned their original process structure and began working with local farmers, and to provide them with their leftovers for animal feed. This way Foodbank nowadays repurpose almost all food (waste) which they are not able to use for their cooking activities or give away to the participants at their events.

“We need to make the planet more sustainable, or there will be no planet for future generations”

An important part of Foodbank’s vision relates to the French solution for reducing food waste. France opted in 2015 for a law clearly combatting food waste. Their supermarkets are nowadays prohibited of disposing unsold food products and are instead obliged to donate it to charities. A law like this could help to reduce food waste also in the Netherlands,  while at the same time also facilitating an increase in charitable contributions and increased support for the people in need.

International hub

Foodbank is more than just a community initiative focused on food waste, they are an international hub, and offer their space other to other initiatives with similar values. In Borut’s words, it is about co-creation and getting something new in the world, to be a center where ideas can meet – a house that values equality for everyone, and a voice for all.

When Foodbank space was initially shaped from the ground in 2016 it was not initially intended for activities beyond cooking and serving food, however it transformed into a space that hosts also other non-profit events and initiatives. These activities are of wide range and include board game events, music jam sessions, movie nights, poetry evenings, lectures, even language exchanges. They gladly share their space with other initiatives, which are in line with their values and can be presumed to be responsible users of the space. If anyone is interested in cooperation with Foodbank Maastricht, then feel welcome to contact Borut.

Curious about their activities

Take a look at the webpage of Foodbank Maastricht on Facebook and at the Website of Landbouwbelang: Website & Facebook

Author: Jo-Anne Jaegermann

Pictures: Jo-Anne Jaegermann


Local Goal Getter Charlotte Lenhard KAN Party University Council representative, “education is one of the small wheels for a fair and smooth transition”

Local Goal Getter Charlotte Lenhard KAN Party University Council representative, “education is one of the small wheels for a fair and smooth transition”

We interviewed Charlotte Lenhard for this week’s Local Goal Getter. A second-year European studies student, going into 3rd year, at FASOS, and an active KAN Party representative in the University Council with a vision for Maastricht University.

Climate Action Network

Precious Plastics, KAN Party, Fossil Free, Love Foundation, Foodcoop, Litter of Light, and Maastricht for Climate combined form the umbrella network, known as KAN Maastricht. The organizations work towards climate action in one way or another, sharing thoughts and ideas through KAN is an intersectional way of dealing with this societal issue. Taking a format that includes labor unions, NGOs, and grassroots, enables KAN Maastricht to mobilize a larger group of people, leaving no one behind when the structures are built. Cooperation between these various organizations is key when you want a fair and social transition to a sustainable society. 

Before entering KAN Maastricht, Charlotte was involved in the Friday’s for future protests, because she stood behind the idea of bringing justice to the climate and the inequality issues that come with it, a shared thought you could easily find among KAN members. She eventually got in contact with KAN through a friend, and stayed in the Maastricht for Climate UM Team, because she enjoyed the sincere motivation people had to contribute to a sustainable world. 

“One of the appealing components of KAN Maastricht is that people can be involved in a multitude of organizations that facilitate making the necessary connections to work on climate justice efficiently.”

While being a member of the UM Team it became clear it was difficult to form formal relations with Maastricht University, which developed into an interest in the capacity universities have to make a durable transition. After learning about KAN Party, the body within KAN Maastricht which brings the objectives of the organization to the university, she wanted to get involved in translating abstract ideas behind sustainability into actual commitment through policy at UM. Last year she ran for Faculty Council, the results of which for KAN Party were unexpectedly successful, they even got more seats than they had Faculty Council runners to fill.

KAN Party representative 

Charlotte Lenhard wanted to take on the role of Faculty Council representative because there is potential for change while being aware of the urgency behind it. After being elected a seat at the University Council for KAN Party, she now only focuses on this organization of the umbrella network and no longer on Maastricht for Climate. She wants the overlap of climate action, SDG 13, and quality education, SDG 4, to be transparent in the Curricula in Maastricht University by building a curriculum that teaches us to make informed decisions based on our current society. It would be good to see everyone partaking in sustainable action as a normalized part of someone’s day, instead of it being seen as an extravagant activity.

“The potential to bring about change at Maastricht University grows exponentially if people are educated with a sustainable basis, they make decisions in an informed way”.

For example, in an economic course she has had, climate change was only approached as a trade opportunity, which came as a shock not only because it contradicts scientific evidence, but also the fact she was learning about it till last year. Fortunately, this course has already been adapted for the coming year, however, it became clear that UM needs a modernized curriculum to address the challenges of the 21st century. 

Not learning about various topics is harmful, which is visual in not just climate justice but also racial justice. One of KAN Maastricht’s initiatives is decolonizing the UM curricula, recognizing the intersectionality of these issues, and act accordingly. Across disciplines, recommended and mandatory literature is not up to date and imbalanced. Old scholars are not irrelevant, nonetheless, most sources we consult are rich old white guys, an imbalanced perspective that comes with many problems. Just diversifying sources could already help in this instance.

 

Tangible commitment

Establishing working relations with UM is one of the primary challenges she has faced in KAN Party, because they work together with an institution that structurally does not yet allow the urgent changes we need to sustainably teach students. For instance, after handing in a petition signed by over 1000 members of Maastricht University, the vice president said “he would look into defining what a sustainable UM is, but it would take time”.

“UM has not said no, but they have not said yes, we want UM to show their commitment in evidence-based tangible ways instead of a rather discouraging response”

Sustainable growth

On the other hand, some developments were rather encouraging. For example, the fact that KAN Party has been elected for council positions for two consecutive academic years. They more than doubled their seats during last year’s faculty elections at FASOS, and became the second-largest party, despite being a young UM party, demonstrating the urgency students feel when it comes to climate justice.

Another notable outcome happened due to Fossil Free Maastricht, which started a campaign to get UM to write to their pension fund ABP, pushing for a divestment in fossil fuels in a public statement. The campaign was initially received as an out-of-reach request, however, they made it happen. 

“A proud moment for both KAN Maastricht, Fossil Free and Maastricht University in general, a success I did not expect to happen already”.

A last symbolic but essential success, was the change of the default search engine UM uses in a couple of their faculties, to a sustainable one, Ecosia. Students from other faculties can manually change the engine already.

Faculty Sustainability Network

Beyond KAN she works together with a staff member to build a Faculty Sustainability Network, a bottom-up initiative that involves the community of each faculty and on a central level as well. Each faculty has a group of motivated students that want to work on sustainability issues, as well as a pool of people that want to work on them from a central level, but do not yet have the space to connect. The Faculty Sustainability Network will leave space for a community at UM to work on these issues and share ideas.

Although it is a separate initiative she works on outside of KAN Party, she sees it as part of her work for KAN Party in the University Council, to make UM more sustainable.

Curious about their commitment

Take a look at the website of KAN Maastricht: website 

Author: Jo-Anne Jaegermann

Pictures: Jo-Anne Jaegermann


Local Goal Getter Sheila Oroschin founder of The Masters, a dream house

Local Goal Getter Sheila Oroschin founder of The Masters, a dream house

For this week’s Local Goal Getter, we had an invigorating conversation with Sheila Oroschin, who founded The Masters, an initiative that establishes houses in order to engage fully in society. The premises were transformed by the Masters into open social hubs for the neighbourhood and its residents. Partners use the facilities causing intensive collaboration with other organizations to achieve as many Sustainable Development Goals as possible. All are parts of the concept that strengthen the Masters, and without each part, it would not be as sufficient.

Experience through a personal journey

Sheila Oroschin was born in Amsterdam, studied law, and moved to Limburg at the age of 26 because of love. Sheila’s partner attended a hotel school, in due course opened a few locations in Geleen, Heerlen and Delft. In 1991 they went into business with a clothing company. At the time it was an economically oriented family, focused on efficiency and turnover. Over the years, they had 3 children, of whom Alex (1991) was born with a syndrome, Coffin-Siris or CSS, from which most children die in the first year of their life. Contrary to the expectations that experts had of Alex, he developed admirably. The focus for Sheila and her family was not on what Alex cannot do, but rather on where his talents lie, including good spatial understanding and photographic memory.

Life is arranged differently and for Alex this also meant going to special education where, unfortunately, they are largely taught in isolation from society. From Alex’s 16 to 18 years of age, they looked at locations where someone can receive secure housing and facilities for recreational purposes. In these locations, the emphasis is initially not on individual wants and talents. They did not want Alex to go to a location where his talents were going to be overlooked, but rather one that facilitates dreams. A location like that had yet to be created, and in 2007 it became The Masters.

A place where everyone can live affordably in an equal community, where people are seen and attention is paid to wellbeing and good health, offering security and strong public services.

A dilemma 

The Masters began with two private cars that, together with a group of eight young people, found an old garage in an industrial building and transformed it into a community hotspot. Becoming part of the community in the neighborhood instead of merely being seen as pitiful souls. It is precisely at the Masters that the guest is central, not viewed as a client or patient, instead their unique talents are made visible. 

In this neighborhood, there were two prominent challenges, firstly, there were many vacant properties and secondly, there was a general complaint about freight traffic for small parcels. The latter issue affected the property managers, residents and simultaneously is not sustainable, which the business owners did not feel great about either. The solution for too much cargo transport was actually already there, Binnenstadservice Maastricht. Binnenstadservice Maastricht provides a place for the goods of these entrepreneurs, who then determine the routes, which ensures that several trucks do not drive through the neighbourhood for a few parcels, but one load can be made for all parcels in the area.

The Masters looked at whether there is an element that connects these individualized islands of the neighbourhood, and whether they could play a role in this. 

At the time, they had asked whether Binnenstadservice Maastricht could give a speech at our micro public place, so that the solution would be known to residents, property owners, entrepreneurs and the administration, made available by the Masters. They held a consultation where everyone was welcome, “we expected a limited number of people, but in the end we had to share 50 cups of coffee with 150 people”.

Master to Master

The challenge presented earlier set the stage for Master to Master gatherings, which had the aim to place Masters in the locations of the entrepreneurs who were at the speech of Binnenstadservice Maastricht and beyond. These entrepreneurs could offer people a place of experience with the possibility of developing into paid employment.

Giving someone a real chance to participate in society, instead of a voucher for the fun fair

To prevent people from being employed on a misdirected basis, they organized “Master to Master” meetings every Thursday. Good results led to the establishment of a Master Food Service, where attention was paid to healthy food and nutrition, and the Masters Greenery, where people can experience the origin of food, cook together and distribute fresh supplies.

Home & community center

The ultimate objective for creating the Masters was to set up a location where people, including the Masters and students, could reside and be noticed, treated as normally as possible in a dynamic of young people carrying each other. The location should not be hidden, but instead in the center of Maastricht. 

It is not a pink cloud, it is possible, we exist and we have waiting lists

There are currently two locations, one in the Statenkwartier and one in Wyck, with the buildings set up as hotels. In Wyck, there is a balanced distribution of students, young status holders and Masters, one third each. After all, it is also important for young status holders to have a safety net. In Statenkwartier, there is a similar distribution but only between masters and students. Both locations have a micro-public place, a contact point where residents and community can go for anything, both for internal and external service. In addition, the locations have a UPS Service point, ironing and laundry service, which can also be delivered to people’s homes, and a common room for everyone. 

Nevertheless, the Masters keep housing and care separate and do not take away people’s hours of care, nor do they accept any funds for care, because they act from the conviction that healthcare funds should go to the actual support and not to the maintenance of buildings, for example. They consult with care providers about the reduction of care, and help map out which care is actually needed and which is not.

Ultimately, care is only properly provided if it leads to greater independence in the long run, and should therefore result into a reduction of care

However, a reduction of care hardly ever happens, because it also has effect on billable hours, and fewer hours mean fewer jobs.

In addition to the houses, we have set up a social restaurant in Statenkwartier called Vorkje Prikken. Those who live below the poverty line get a three-course meal for 4 euros, for those who live above it 7 euros.  An open and well-facilitated space where everyone is appreciated does something to people.

The world of healthcare

In 1991, Sheila learned about the world of health care, an industry in which a lot of money is involved, and where a disabled person, if you put it in black and white, provides billable hours and a job for another. In the world of care, it is too often the case that the person who should be the focus of attention, in other words the guests, fail to receive it. The Masters’ approach have shed light to some misconceptions. For example, in the first year of one of the houses, they saved €96,000 in healthcare costs, just by organizing the services around the individuals more efficiently.

The only reason I started doing this at all was because of Alex, a gift in this life, otherwise I would never have ended up in healthcare. Now I won’t stop until this has changed for a large group of people, which is probably a lifetime of work.

A source of motivation is the structure of the current care system; there is a lack of a direction that allows the work to actually run smoothly and enables people to develop their talents. It is based on what people cannot do instead of where their strengths lie. A lot of money goes into the intermediate bodies that are control-oriented, which does not help the individual, but yet requires a lot of time and money. Change is difficult but certainly possible. 

The Master’s overall goal is for people to have equal opportunities and only worry about their physical state, but not about rent, service charges, food, and clothes. If you have a foundation, you can settle down, work on yourself and only then mean something to someone else. Sustainable care is what a person really needs, the cost of which will automatically decrease when they have a safe home, and subsequently, there will be fewer calls for support. The residents’ care costs at The Master are decreasing, while the average is increasing.

The Masters operate from an open-source framework, thus anyone can access information from it. If there are concerns, they can even contact us. To date, we are only limited in our number of houses because the current system does not fully accept a method like this, but we are in a transition phase. In any case, we will not stop the enlargement of this type of houses, there should be more of them. 

Curious about their commitment

Take a look at the website of the Masters: The Masters

Author: Jo-Anne Jaegermann

Pictures: Jo-Anne Jaegermann


Local Goal Getter Paula Marianne Pfeifer co-founder of Athos-Eet-Maakt-Doet, the real social label

Local Goal Getter Paula Marianne Pfeifer co-founder of Athos-Eet-Maakt-Doet, the real social label

For this week’s Local Goal Getter, we interviewed Paula Marianne Pfeifer, an inspiring individual who co-founded Athos-Eet-Maakt-Doet. 7 years ago, Paula first walked into Athos, when it used to operate as a part of Stichting Radar. She and 3 others helped transform the recreational program of Stichting Radar into a place with open facilities, where people could make a durable start by working on their personal passions, with paid work as a final destination.

From daycare to self-reliance 

Athos was established by answering a series of questions of how it might be done differently, considering a recreational program does not look at the capabilities and needs of each member individually. Gradually, these questions were answered, which is why Athos has now become a separate Ltd. They believe in the marketability of their product. Athos is a place where you are encouraged to take social responsibility, something that is easily said, and yet they implement it thoroughly. 

People care, earth care, but everything with a fair share.

Thought and consideration have been given to the design of Athos, in order that it incorporates both humanity and the planet’s needs. The real social label accentuates the fact that they make it a reality.

Athos was developed for a community, with a focus on people with a distance from the labour market, in the broadest sense of these words. In 6 years, the enterprise has grown from a small inclusive target group to everyone who wants to be connected through passion and talent. The enterprise includes people from 32 different walks of life, with the youngest being 16 and the oldest 97, which is ultimately a reflection of the society we live in outside of these four walls. The target group of Athos is their neighbourhood, they are continuously embedding themselves in local businesses, and are therefore working closely with entrepreneurs in and around Maastricht. This includes Makers van Maastricht, which works out of a love of craftsmanship from local entrepreneurs. We approach the Maastricht area in different ways, but first of all, as a customer, people can taste what the location has to offer.

A successful method

The system was not initially made for a firm like Athos, but they were not working from that perspective. Structures should be designed to simplify matters in order to make them fair and well managed. Although these values are well-meant, the current framework has not served this principle for a while. Athos brings what is appropriate to these times, motivating people intrinsically. Their aim is to make social participation more fluid, and therefore work from a people-oriented point of view. Ultimately, a system must serve the people, and not the other way around. 

The way in which we operate is on a basis of substance, the structure can always be shaped.

A critical look at the prevailing system through the construction of a company is not something that people are necessarily used to. Over time, it has naturally become easier to work with a formula that you have to go around, nevertheless, you always continue to run into something. The systematic change was and is the biggest challenge Athos and Paula face. This methodology works, and hopefully in the future we can on a larger scale work on the grounds of human principles.

Let people be who they choose to be

One of Paula’s fundamental motives is that every human being should be seen simply for who they are, regardless of where they come from. It would be unfair to be offered more opportunities and start to differentiate, yet it often happens. 

“I find it irrational that I am offered more opportunities in this life just because I was born a white person in Western Europe and someone who has almost identical experiences and knowledge as me but is born in the other hemisphere may not be”.

On top of that, she likes to see the best in people and sometimes does so because people do not always recognize this in themselves. People are often more capable than what they think themselves to be. Every day she looks back on this with a fulfilled sense of purpose, especially when she actively sees people being able to do what they want to achieve. In this regard, the quality of this feeling is important and not the quantity. Needless to say, carrying out a job in a large festival is impressive, but she gets the same feeling with 15 people going through an authentic experience or to see an individual advance to a place where they engage in sustainable work.

Dream catchers

One of Paula’s personal favorite examples of a chased dream involves Shelly, a young man from Damascus, who has been made to flee Syria, has ended up in Europe. An intelligent person who has found himself in a situation where society does not understand him in a multitude of fields. 

When everything is strange, new and unfamiliar, you can end up in a spiral, and Athos is a place where you can break that cycle. 

Despite his situation, he wanted to continue the furniture-making business, which his family once had, on his own terms by taking a piece of history with him. Shelly was eager to pursue his dream, and succeeded in doing just that, by producing lamps made from Athos machinery with a moving life story attached to it.

Curious about their commitment

Take a look at the website of the Athos: Athos-Eet-Maakt-Doet 

Author: Jo-Anne Jaegermann

Pictures: Jo-Anne Jaegermann


Local Goal Getter John Steijns from CNME: make sustainable education the new normal!

Local Goal Getter John Steijns from CNME: make sustainable education the new normal!

Looking back, but moving forward, is what we focus on in this interview with Johns Steijns, this week’s Local Goal Getter. After 41 years of working towards sustainable education in Maastricht and beyond at CNME, he will start his next chapter continuing to work on sustainable development goals in education as he goes into early retirement.

A unique combination, providing a foundation

John together with about 20 colleagues, combines a unique set of disciplines to provide the basis for the creation of sustainable action, at the CNME. The CNME, center for education in nature and environmental affairs, offer their expertise in education and ecological management in and around Maastricht. A thread in CNME’s mission is the outlook that people develop a perspective in action that enables them to understand the impact of personal choices, such as dietary and mobility options, on the world around them.

A variety of activities provided by the Center, helps people, with a focus on pupils, be able to consider sustainable options and make balanced decisions accordingly. This varies from lessons in nature reserves to lessons about air quality, in which they look at the state of affairs, including their personal one in Maastricht, and how they can change it for the better. Starting with the youngest among us that experience and learn about nature through gnome trails, a nature trail for preschoolers, where gnomes give them assignments about the environment that surrounds them.

Sometimes we teach the youth through play, but with a serious undertone because these activities have a meaningful value in the message they give.

John holds the position as a consultant on Nature, Environment, Sustainability and Education. He advises teachers or communities of schools on sustainable education, by providing the necessary teaching materials or giving the lessons himself. John focuses on the transition of primary education towards sustainable teaching materials.

Global lessons learned

In September 2021 three information evenings (on September 7, 8 and 9) will be provided, in which people from all over the country who want to give Global Goals lessons can register and get a teaching package.

Reflection is important, even at an early age, you just need to know how to frame it in a language that each person understands.

Together with Maastricht Foto Festival, they developed a project, ” Global Goals in focus,” where the global goals were exhibited in conjunction with art, in this case, photography. In this workshop, pupils went on to create storytelling images about a Global Goal with solidarity as its theme. Each of the 10 participating groups chooses their own 5 best Global Goals in focus, which were exhibited last year at Maastricht University. This year 20 groups participated, including 3 from secondary schools at a new venue, Pathé.

The natural step

A cluster of experiences in reforming Maastricht’s approach to education is due to the Natural Step method. Within this training, sustainability becomes clear as a concept, which leads to the common usage of definition and language. John’s participation in the Natural Step program led to his involvement in the realization of the most sustainable school at the time, “de Geluksvogel” in Limmel. De Geluksvogel was unique in the Netherlands because the school building was established in response to their sustainable educational vision.

All participants were on the same page, there was no back-and-forth, only the question about the shaping of sustainable education.

In retrospect

The launch of his career at CNME is also one of his highlights, when he taught classes of around 40 schools about cycles, balance in nature, feeding patterns, and how that affects an individual, all in school gardens, most of which situated directly next to these teaching facilities. Even back then, he had a passion when it comes to teaching people about the workings of nature.

Schools are currently training the generation of tomorrow, otherwise known as the generation that will be adults when the Sustainable Development Goals are due to be met in 2030.

One of his educational milestones has suitably been achieved. In the primary education of Maastricht, sustainable teachings have become a priority. This reallocation of prime concerns commenced more or less three years ago, and is now visible in communities of schools’ policy plans, by means of a whole-school approach, a motion now visible throughout the Netherlands. Sustainable education is good education, and good education is a treat.

SDG Box

The vision behind an SDG Education Platform is to develop a resource for all schools in order that attention is paid to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This resulted in the SDG Box, which will launch in the week of September 25 2021, available to classrooms from grade 1 upwards. The SDG Box is a box with 17 signs of the 17 global goals for each sign. Each SDG has a QR code, in which teaching materials are hidden, along with activities to put the global goals into practice. The SDG Box provides an accessible way to teach about the development goals, which will save teachers a considerable amount of preparation.

The job is not done yet!

According to himself, he had about 40 jobs during his time at CNME, because every time something happened that made his work evolve into what it is today. In his retirement, John will continue to work towards Sustainable Development Goals. Although John has experienced many highlights, there is still much on the agenda when it comes to implementing sustainable education. In the years to come, he would like to look at the question: What does the education sector have in mind and is capable of doing in relation to sustainability?

As one of his future prospects, he hopes to see a basis of sustainable education provided to secondary education. Education does not stop at the doors of primary schools, succeeding next steps in implementing sustainable education in secondary and higher education are needed for continuity in the development of the adults of tomorrow. With a particular focus on secondary education, owing to the fact that in many instances a gap is created in this phase. Leaving a gap in the progression of sustainable awareness, and therefore the ongoing learning curve stops when students leave elementary school.

Curious about their commitment

Take a look at the website of the CNME: https://www.cnme.nl

Author: Jo-Anne Jaegermann

Pictures: Jo-Anne Jaegermann


Local Goal Getter Nina Rijsterborgh from Maas in de Wet, a flood of rights

Local Goal Getter Nina Rijsterborgh from Maas in de Wet, a flood of rights

About a year ago Nina Rijsterborgh got in touch with the Maas Cleanup on Maas Cleanup day. She was confronted with the state of the river after only one day of cleaning the Maas. Thus, when Maas Cleanup challenged the office of Boels Zanders Advocaten, where she works, with coming up with an alternative action that positively affects the Maas, she rolled up her sleeves and started working, with a team of other experts, on what is now a petition “Maas in de Wet” or Maas in the law”. For this week’s Local Goal Getter, we had an encouraging conversation with Nina Rijsterborgh, who works on an initiative that could provide rights to the Maas as if it were a person.

Challenge accepted!

When the question within Boels Zanders Advocaten arrived of who would be interested in looking into this challenge, Nina, unhesitatingly jumped at this opportunity. She was interested from a professional point of view, because of her background in environmental law and interests in developments in lawmaking on a personal level. It starts with the parts we individually play in a healthy environment. Every contribution counts, just raising awareness can already make a world of difference.

With Maas Cleanup awareness is created, and the Maas in de Wet petition could lead to political change.

Maas in de Wet is a joined initiative that came into existence by the cooperation from multiple disciplines including a legal background represented by Boels Zanders Advocaten, and thus Nina Rijsterborgh, Jessica den Outer an independent rights of Nature expert, Viastory providing the communication expertise, IVN (Institute for nature education and sustainability) and a multitude of businesses.

After careful evaluation of a several of options, including a citizens initiative and a lobby campaign, they focused their efforts on the creation of a petition. With a petition you can measure the general reaction of the public, raise awareness and shape a campaign in such a way that makes the public join the cause. The balance of the message is nuanced and a constant back and forth between juridical data and the story that creates feeling, since raising awareness on a legal issue can be rather informative.

Why should we care?

The essence of providing rights to the Maas lies in the tons of plastic waste that is collected in one day by no less of 5.000 volunteers of Maas Cleanup that had to work out of reactive measures, while this could have been prevented by systematic solutions. This is where Maas in de Wet comes in, it could provide a foundation by giving the Maas rights in order to make its wellbeing someone’s responsibility. Currently, we lean on environmental organizations to protect nature as a reaction to a created problem, but when they have their own legal personality nature gets a seat on the table when they make decisions on the importance of its preservation and that of future generations. It will even cause fewer procedures. When nature gets its vote, they are directly involved in decision-making, making procedures unnecessary.

Nature should have rights, and with a definition beyond the scope of our personal gain, which is where we often refer to when we even make these claims. The rights of the Maas should include intrinsic value as well because only then do we create a healthy environment.

A clean environment could never be utterly useless to anyone, and that thought is not just shared among people but also in enterprises.

A movement

Although it is relatively unique in Europe, this is not a new phenomenon. for the first time in the world’s history, New Zealand gave the Whanganui River a long due recognition as a legal person in 2017, after great efforts of the Maori tribes[1]. Thus, there is no question on whether this is possible, the question lies in whether this is possible in the Netherlands. Although it has not happened yet in the Netherlands, the question has already been asked about another area, the Wadden Sea.

“Rules are good, but not enough”

The current objective of this petition is to raise awareness in order to not just become a topic of conversation in parliament but lead to conversations on the shaping of such a law for the Netherlands and potentially reaching the entire Maas region, including an over the border strategy. Nevertheless, this is not with the expectation that a will instantly take its form once it is handed to parliament, but with the aspiration of reaching that point and continue to further focus on a Europe wide policy.

[1] (Warne)

Below the iceberg

Maas in de Wet, and Maas Cleanup in general, are evidently linked with clean water and sanitation, SDG 6, and life below water, SDG 14. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, when you look deeper into the long term effects of when the Maas receives a legal personality, it has a positive impact on zero hunger, SDG 2, climate change, SDG 13, and life on land, SDG 15. It could lead to a better quality of water, which subsequently improves our health and nature’s health, leading towards less hunger.

Curious about their commitment

Take a look at the petition: https://maascleanup.nl/actie/maas-in-de-wet/

Author: Jo-Anne Jaegermann

Pictures: Jo-Anne Jaegermann


Local Goal Getter Martia Tersteeg, creator and board member of Tapijntuin

Local Goal Getter Martia Tersteeg, creator and board member of Tapijntuin

This week we interviewed Martia, an inspiring woman who is striving to educate as many people as possible about nature. As the founder of Tapijntuin she secured a lovely quiet spot in the centre of Maastricht.

Make sure to have a goal, and pursue it.

With the company of a herbal tea (ingredients from the garden of course) and a view over the garden, I spoke with Martia Tersteeg. Inspired by Michel Onfray she had the idea to start her own community garden (SDG #15). When she had an interview with him in France, he convinced her to pursue her idea. He also started a community garden in France. Although he convinced the mayor to arrange it with a glass of wine and a nice chat, Martia had to put more effort in it. When in 2012 the inhabitants of Maastricht were asked to create a new function on the former barracks-base, Martia took her chance. After multiple pitches, discussions and conversations she eventually managed to realise her idea. Together with four other board members she was able to create a community garden Tapijntuin.

The message of this story is to have a goal and to make sure it will happen. That is what Martia also wants to share with everyone. Make sure to have a goal in life, and pursue it!

Spreading knowledge

During the talk, I was surprised by the knowledge of Martia, the knowledge that she shares with everyone. Whether it is about forgotten vegetables, adapting to the environment or about the worm hotel, everyone is always free to walk in. Although voluntary walk-ins are always possible, there used to be multiple organised events. Due to Covid unfortunately these had to be paused, but they will resume in September. Martia can’t wait to organise the events again; educational but also very social. Asylum seekers come in contact with interested local inhabitants. Lonely elderly people are in contact with each other, sport with a coach and make meals from their childhood. Obesities youth learn about vegetables and learn how to cook them. (SDG #13)

Main wish and a funny wish

Eventually, after 7 years, multiple volunteers, numerous visitors, partnerships with Gemeente Maastricht and University Maastricht (SDG #17), Martia and her board established themselves in the Tapijnpark. And still, after seven years, the joy of seeing an eggplant flower is unique. Although ‘it cannot be compared with the joy of two years ago after seeing Morchellas in the garden’. This species of fungus is very rare and only grew that year in the Tapijntuin. Eventually, these were used in a special dish in a Maastricht restaurant. One of Martia’s wishes is to see this species again in the garden. But her main wish is to make sure the Tapijntuin will exist for a long time and many educational events will take place. The location couldn’t have been better. With the nearby campus of University Maastricht numerous students come to visit. As a result, multiple collaborations between the garden and students exist.

The garden might be small, but there is so much to see and it changes every day.  The largest recent change is the instalment of an irrigation system that pumps groundwater that eventually waters the ground through garden hoses with small holes in it. (SDG #12)

Knowledge and passion

Although Martia is our Local Goal Getter, she often reminded me that she couldn’t have done this on her own. She is thankful for everyone who supported and helped her and the Tapijntuin. In addition, she is epically grateful for Frank Raddar. When asked who her local inspiration is, she immediately replies with his name. His passion and knowledge about herbs and spices are unmatched. So teacher Martia is also a student Martia. As a result, she can give you all the information about how to be aware of the environment. She will do it with her unique knowledge and passion.

Author: Sven van der Pas

Pictures: Sven van der Pas

Editing: Jennifer Timmermans 


Local Goal Getters Puck and Juul Knols, founders of Juupu: for and by youth

Local Goal Getters Puck and Juul Knols, founders of Juupu: for and by youth

5 years ago Puck and Juul Knols joined forces to found Juupu. As young teenagers, together with the entire western world they were confronted with the refugee crisis. Deeply touched by this humanitarian crisis, they wished to roll up their sleeves themselves, instead of standing on the sidelines. When they offered to help as volunteers at the asylum center, they were shown the door, with ‘too young’ as reason. Completely stunned and frustrated by this rejection, they decided to take matters into their own hands, independent from the biased adults and their organizations. ‘Juupu’ thus originated as a collaborative coalition between brother and sister. Today we had a heartwarming conversation with Puck. She just successfully graduated from her secondary school. Puck also represents Juul who was unable to attend, as he is still busy completing his first bachelor year of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University College of Maastricht.

You end up in a situation of poverty when you have lost sight of the richness in yourself because of something that happened to you without being asked. (quote Puck) 

In the meantime Juupu has developed further as an organization in which about eighty active young people play a leading role. It is an inclusive group in which every young person is welcome (SDG #5, #10). Under the motto of ‘learned young is done young’, they work to improve the lives of young people. They work from the belief that everyone is born with a unique package of gifts and talents. Their approach is aimed at developing these optimally. However, circumstances sometimes jeopardize the development, causing young people to end up in a downward spiral of poverty. Poverty reduction is at the heart of their tasks (SDG #1). Puck says their definition of poverty is broader than the traditional version. In addition to financial poverty, their actions also try to combat social poverty such as loneliness and the negative impact of health problems (SDG #3).

Poverty is not limited to developing countries, but is often well hidden in your own neighbourhood.

The ‘community dinners’ were one of the first actions of our local goal getters. During these dinners they came into conversation with all kinds of people from the neighborhood on the one hand and refugees on the other. With this, it quickly became clear to our local goal getters that poverty was not limited to developing countries. It turned out that also in their own environment a lot of people were struggling with poverty. For many of these people, however, there appeared to be no safety net as they fell just outside the official criteria of poverty. Because of this new insight, Juul and Puck decided to dedicate themselves to that specific population group that was abandoned by the system.

Sharing is multiplying: after all, sharing will make you feel richer and happier.

 The product and food collection campaigns (SDG 2) are one of the main activities of this youth organisation. At this moment, several schools are participating in this. In the meantime, they have also been able to mobilize supermarkets such as Jumbo to donate products that would otherwise be thrown away as they approach their expiration date. A deal has also been concluded with the supermarket chain Jan Linders to set up collection bins, the well-known ‘Juupu crates’, in which customers can deposit non-perishable products of their own choice. These donations from schools and supermarkets are delivered to six distribution points. The logistics partners ensure that all products eventually reach several hundred needy families. This clearly shows that Juul and Puck work decisively and efficiently by entering into several essential partnerships (SDG #17).

Puck said it took a lot of time and effort to be taken seriously as a young person. The schools were the first to go overboard. But gaining credibility in business or other institutions remains difficult. As of last week, they have reached a major milestone with the consolidation of a partnership with the SNS bank (SDG #17). In 2019, this bank opened a community store. This initiative of the bank has the social goal to make Maastricht financially healthier and to educate everyone about money matters. Because this fits seamlessly with Juupu’s objectives, the SNS bank makes this space available to them. This gives Juupu the opportunity to organize physical appointments and activities. They also work together with the Red Cross, the national emergency aid organization, which can open doors to other organizations and cooperation partners.

By raising awareness about poverty, more and more young people can be motivated and inspired to become actively involved in the fight against poverty.

Besides the donations of food and basic products, Juupu also has some other core tasks. Juupu wants to increase the capacity of their foundation by informing and sensitizing young people about poverty. They do this by organizing symposia and information sessions, in which they allow both experts and professionals to speak about the various aspects of poverty.

Juupu distinguishes itself from the existing foundations because of the emphasis on youth participation. Young people can and want to make a difference. But then we, as adults, have to give them the freedom and responsibility to do so. Meanwhile, Puck and Juul are now in the age category to pass on the torch to the next generation of committed students. Their utopian dream is that Juupu will become superfluous as a poverty-fighting organization in a world in which poverty will be permanently banned. Their ultimate wish is for the ‘Juupu movement’ to have a base throughout the Netherlands, with a large group cohesion and a common ambition to fight poverty.

Never underestimate a youngster…’ It’s high time we as adults realize this, once and for all.

 The ideology, sense of responsibility, pure unbiased motivation and open-mindedness of Puck and Juul are admirable and hopeful. The world is in the hands of the young generation. They can and will make a difference, in the short and long term. As adults, we must open up to these young people and let go of our prejudices and stigmas. Everything shows that young people are not indifferent gamers, but purposeful game changers. As Puck puts it, one is never too young to start something and it is never too late to make a difference for someone. Moving a small rock in the river has the potential to push the entire flow in the other direction over time.

Text: Anna Hermans

Pictures: Jennifer Timmermans

Editing: Jennifer Timmermans


Local Goal Getter Monique Lancée: Azaro, daycare in a new light

Local Goal Getter Monique Lancée: Azaro, daycare in a new light

This week, we talked with Monique, the whirlwind force behind Azaro: a daycare, but different. Sustainability is not (yet) so much a conscious course of the foundation, but at neighborhood level all efforts are aimed at making people’s lives better (#SDG3 #SDG11). Monique uses her experiences gained in women’s shelters, addiction care and care for the mentally vulnerable, but gives it a new look.

Daycare ‘without a label’

For the psychologically vulnerable it can be of vital importance to keep in touch with fellow human beings. However, they cannot go everywhere, some places first request paperwork as an indication. You will have to fit the profile. The need to be able to engage without a label with ‘ordinary’ people is hardly met. Azaro, of which Monique is the initiator and coordinator, does this. She arranges everything, motivates everyone and has always rolled up her sleeves.

Quite hard: building a new social network

‘I saw the women sitting in front of the shelter, puffing a cigarette, arguing with each other’. The shelter had been arranged and the financial and legal support was good, but Monique noticed a lack of personal, individual attention. “When you are constantly under stress or living in fear, you have no space for yourself; you don’t take time for fun things. You not only lose yourself but also the network of friends and family. For former addicts, it is quite a challenge to use the time they first spent on the addiction differently. ‘You have to say goodbye to your old friends and build a new network… And that is quite tough’. Azaro helps people rediscover their passion through genuine interest in the person. Only when that passion has been rediscovered can you ‘connect’ with others again.

Stigma-free meeting place

Psychologically vulnerable people often find it very annoying to follow daytime activities at a mental healthcare institution. “They are treated like psychiatric patients again. They really enjoy being able to participate here, without a label. You want to get rid of that label once and for all. Everyone has their own quirks!”

There were local residents who came to Azaro through ambulant escorts. When other local residents saw that people were walking in and out, who apparently were having a good time with each other, they wanted to join in. Now all the activities that Azaro organizes are also for local residents. A seniors group has recently been established; elderly from the neighbourhood who were a bit wasted at home. In principle, there is no distinction between client, resident or volunteer. You might be all three!

The neighbourhood as a sustainable community

When asked to which global goals Azaro contributes, Monique immediately answers ‘Reuse of materials’ (#12). They make lampshades from old jeans, statues from old wood, candles from stumps in the Basilica, new clothes and blankets from rags… Monique looks again at the postcard with all 17 goals and notices that Azaro is also participating in #1 No poverty (give away clothes), #2 Zero hunger (lunch together) #3 Good health and well-being (nutrition and coaching) and #15 Life on land (organic vegetable garden). And of course, #17 (partnership), where Monique mentions the municipality of Maastricht in particular.

Azaro underestimate their contribution to #10 (Reduced inequality) and #11 (Sustainable cities and communities). It is substantial! The low threshold (also literally: vegetable garden boxes for scooter users) and the social, cultural bridges they build here at neighbourhood level have the most impact. This success has to do with their greatest challenge: ‘letting people with a non-Western background work in harmony with residents in a working-class neighbourhood where the PVV-voter is very widely represented’. Here they break through prejudices by simply putting people together. ‘By being together you realize that you have formed an image based on what you see on TV, but it doesn’t match reality’.

Not a daycare ‘factory’

The biggest wish of Azaro is to have more space to do what they do. They are very cramped, on the floor of the Ouw Sjoal. More participants is not so much the ambition, but that they keep coming. At Azaro this is voluntary, in contrast to regular daycare activities with an indication. Personal attention is the most important thing. I don’t want to become a daycare factory.’

The objective of the organization

Azaro offers daytime activities for vulnerable target groups. By standing next to her clients without a pre-issued ‘label’ but with an eye for people and the environment, Azaro lets everyone (re)discover their own qualities and passion. ‘Ordinary’ local residents also participate. A magical mix that is contagious. In this way, Azaro, together with the neighbourhood, builds on increasing self-esteem, self-confidence, community spirit and meaning in life.

The foundation currently has 76 clients, 5 volunteers, about 50 involved local residents and 3 paid employees.

The candles that are made in the Azaro studio can be ordered via the website www.azaro.nu

Interview: Severine Louf

Pictures: Severine Louf

Editing: Jennifer Timmermans