For me, twenty years of Victory4All means that it’s roughly twenty years ago that my life changed radically. As a ten-year-old boy I told my classmates that we would be moving to South Africa and started packing my toys and clearing my room. My sisters and I followed a few quick English lessons, said good-bye to our grandpa, grandma’s and our dog Donja and flew for the first time, to the other side of the world.
Whenever I tell my story, people ask “but wasn’t that super difficult?” Of course, it was a radical change, going to a new school, having a hard time expressing myself in a new language and missing everything that once was familiar. It was tough and it significantly shaped me into who I am today. I was a sensitive little boy with a big sense of responsibility. I felt I needed to be the one who would help my sisters and parents through this big change. I’m incredibly grateful for how it turned out. As a family we went through the same things and we were mostly the only ones with whom we could speak our own language. Even though everything was new, our family was familiar and safe. This turned us into a tight-knit family, especially together with David, who was added to our clan a few years later.
Victory4All has been a family adventure from the start. My parents’ work was obviously important, but we always knew that it was their priority to keep our family a safe space for us. There was always room for our process, emotions and struggles, family-time and fun, for which I’m really grateful. Now that I’ve become a father myself and have built up a life in The Netherlands, I realise more and more what it must have cost my parents. Try taking your family with small children to the other side of the globe and starting all over again.
By visiting the townships, my parents started discovering how South Africa’s culture and society work. With their typically Dutch mentality of hard work, honesty, equality and optimism, they sometimes clashed with a totally different culture, shaped by a history of racism, poverty and corruption. It quickly became clear that poverty is something generational, a negative mindset that is passed on from parent to child. How do you bring about change in such a complex environment, without being the next white European who always knows better? I have great respect for how they approached this.
As a child and teenager I already started working along within the different projects. I can still picture the walls I helped paint, the playground where I jumped rope with toddlers and the field where I taught a sports class as part of my studies. Because I have seen Victory4All grow from day one, I find it extra special that twenty years later I once again get to be part of the team and support this great work, while being based in The Netherlands.
Do you have a creative idea to support Victory4All or want to know how you can get involved? Let me know, because together we can achieve so much more!