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Connecting with ‘fellow sufferers’ in another part of the world

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

There are many families with children with special needs. All kinds of ‘problem’ children who have an impact on the family life of all kinds of families. Not only in the Netherlands but all over the world. Because I have an older brother with a disability myself, I always wanted to see how organizations and parents in other countries deal with children with special needs. Partly for this reason, between 2000 and 2004, I was an international fundraiser for projects for people with disabilities in Burkina Faso, Brazil and India. My introduction to international projects taught me a lot and I was impressed by the spirit of involvement of people in those countries.

In the West we pride ourselves on professionalisation, but my experience abroad has made me realize that we can learn a lot from the approach in other countries when it comes to passion and 'out of the box' thinking. Now, living in India for 18 years, I find it interesting to connect and confront different cultures. It is also partly my profession, because among other things I give culture training to Indians who go to the Netherlands or to Dutch people and Indians who work together. But besides that, I have always kept this dream, which was also unleashed by my brother and my previous work and research. How nice would it be to introduce parents of ‘children with special needs (and these children themselves) to fellow sufferers abroad?

By working together, inspiring each other and broadening each other's horizons, in order to better achieve our goals and ideals. The Netherlands and other Western countries are an exception in the world because of their individualistic culture. In most of the world people think more collectively. I am convinced countries with a more individualistic culture can draw a lot of inspiration from other societies and cultures for their care needs. The organization that I set up 18 years ago: Toe to Heart - with branches in the Netherlands and India - strives for a kind of International community building. On our recently started new website you can read who we are, what we did and what we want to do. Maybe we can connect together to enlarge each other's world!? Don't hesitate to contact us!

(This article has been published in Dutch in the magazine OVO from ‘Ouders voor Ouders’, an association for parents of ‘problem’ children in the Netherlands’)

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