In December, the Dutch Public Health Service (GGD) and four other Dutch youth work organisations went on a one-week fact-finding visit to the Rwandan NGO African Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE). In what is a working trip led by Netherlands-based Help a Child Foundation, the delegation of ten people received training from AEE, a partner of Help a Child. The goal: to experience the collaborative approach of AEE and Help a Child and transfer this into a useable method for supporting vulnerable young people in the Netherlands.

The Dutch delegation consisted of professionals working in one of the participating organisations , two youth care experts, one researcher and employees from the GGD (the initiator of the idea). This working visit was part of the 'Working together for self-esteem and resilience’ project which is funded by the Dutch ‘Kansfonds’.

“In the Netherlands, the approach used to support vulnerable young people is individualised and is often problem-oriented,” comments Carin Rots, project advisor from the GGD. “This does not always produce the desired result. The group approach, as applied by AEE, a partner for Help a Child, is a promising alternative. It focuses on empowerment, is durable and is also cheap in comparison to an individual approach.”

The AEE approach also appears to be the answer to the shift from welfare state to public-orientated informal care that is occurring in the Netherlands. The training will allow the participants to experience AEE’s working methods through the use of self-help groups; illustrating how inspirational the power of people in vulnerable circumstances can be.

In addition to various meetings with self-help groups, the programme also included courses on various topics such as ‘How do you facilitate a support group?’ and ‘How do you use the group approach with young people?’ As well as sharing experiences with the programme hosts, the delegation also visited the Genocide Memorial and the national Akagera Park to understand better the history and context of Rwanda.

During the training week and following the visit, the participants reflected together on how the Rwandan approach can be applied to the situation of youth care in the Netherlands. This will form the basis of a project involving two groups of homeless young people that is scheduled for next year in the Netherlands.

In Rwanda, Help a Child through local partners like AEE is working in 5 districts (Rwamagana, Bugesera, Rulindo, Ruvabvu, Rusizi) to support children and their families to grow out of poverty. We believe every child matters, because every child is a unique gift from God. To ensure that all children develop their full potential, we pay attention to their emotional, social and physical needs. 

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