It doesn’t quite fit in the row of professionals representing Dutch institutions. But as soon as Job starts talking, I feel this internship is the one I will choose!

Early September we are gathered with students and professionals in a classroom at the University of Amsterdam. Job is telling us about the children of IMBA in Zimbabwe. I must admit I have no clue where Zimbabwe is located in Africa, but one thing I do know I am going there!

Shoe box
To be honest, I never considered traveling to Africa. It’s a more or less unknown continent for me. However thinking twice, I actually have had many links with Africa throughout my life. For example, in primary school there was this ‘Mission Shoe Box’ every year.* I would spend hours painting and decorating my shoe box and filling it with nice presents for some child in an African country. Something the box that was never missing was a soft toy animal..

Chasing dreams
Often, most African countries are not considered very favoured. A typical example is that when we really feel like eating something in the Netherlands, we usually say that we are ‘hungry’. The know-it-all would always say that ‘only the children in Africa know what it is to be hungry’. Yes, this has always been my feeling about African children; they are to be pitied.

Last years, however, I exchanged this view for a more empowering one: the children of Africa are strong and they do have a future! This view was confirmed as soon as I got connected to IMBA. We believe that every child has talents and that every child can chase his or her- dreams, despite adversity. I am looking forward to discovering what positive things African children have.

Dutch stiffness
I am looking forward to meeting the Zimbabwean people and learn from them how to make good sadza (corn porridge) and how to dance without being bothered by my Dutch stiffness. I will certainly join the church services which I expect to be more lively than most churches in Holland. And think about the nature…. I am imagining it to be so beautiful! Also I hope to meet some old Zimbabwean people that hold treasures of wisdom.

The goal
Above all, I am looking forward to meeting the children of IMBA! I think they will teach me a lot about life. I will do my very best to provide IMBA with a plan for the reintegration of children in local families. I will do field research and explore the possibilities for the process of reintegration. In the end I hope to provide IMBA with a reintegration guideline.

A Dutch-Zimbabwean woman recently gave me Shona books to learn some basic language. I decided I will start learning some Shona during the flight.. right now Shona and Chinese puzzle me to the same extent. Nevertheless, my motto for this internship is that challenges are there to be overcome!

*in Dutch ‘Actie Schoenendoos’, nowadays ‘Schoenmaatjes’