• Ellen Barnes

NewBees at Work: Ninah, the Advocate

“I’ve always dreamed to be an activist. I want to be the voice of the voiceless — especially for women and children.”

When Ninah moved from her home country of Uganda to the Netherlands in 2014 to pursue a better life, she saw volunteering as more than just a chance to build a network — it was a way to form authentic Dutch relationships and continue pursuing her goals of advocacy.

“I came here for studies and dreams that I’ll get a better job,” she said. After earning a graduate degree in human rights and development, she stayed in the Netherlands to continue pursuing her dream of human rights.

When she heard about NewBees, she saw it as a chance to start her new life.

“I was in the [asylum] camp, looking at myself saying, ‘This is a qualified woman.’ So it was very great to hear NewBees say, ‘We are looking for people with different skills, so if you’re willing, you can start with us.’”

For almost a year, Ninah has been volunteering for NewBees by sharing her experience with dozens of other newcomers, telling them about the benefits of volunteering and helping them realize the new opportunities available to them.

“You cannot just sit,” she said. “You must continue practicing your skill, making connections with other people, and getting experience in how things are done in this part of the world. That’s the beauty of NewBees.”

Ninah is no stranger to volunteering. After finishing school in Uganda, she spent years gaining valuable experience in social work, including projects with UNICEF, a local HIV/AIDS organization, and the Uganda National Unit of Disabled Persons.

“I did it voluntarily, and because of the hard work, eventually I was given [paid] work,” she said.

In addition to helping NewBees, Ninah also visits a local elderly home weekly for coffee, cleaning and chatting. “The language is still difficult for me. But they are willing to teach me Dutch, so then I can sit and chat. I keep improving my communications skills everyday.”

As for her experience with NewBees? “I’ve gained too much,” she said. “NewBees has helped me have my hands on my skills. I haven’t been sitting redundant; I’ve been practicing. It’s given me an opportunity to connect with different people in different capacities. I’ve shared my experience, and they’ve shared with me and given me open doors; I’ve learned so much.”

In addition to the doors opened and network gained, she’s fostered authentic relationships with Dutch people who’ve treated her like family.

“It’s so nice to be accepted,” she said. “I’ve met so many friends through NewBees, and it just keeps growing. People [here] have open hearts; they are willing to give you information and direct you. If I’d not come to NewBees, I wouldn’t be known. Now I’m known.”

Ninah urges other newcomers to not only get involved through volunteering, but to fully embrace their new life.

“It’s a new life we are beginning. Everything is new. If you don’t shed off the old part of you, then you’ll have no room to learn new things. When you open up, you learn a lot. When you humble yourself, you really get somewhere.”

“NewBees is not like other organizations. Other organizations help refugees by working for refugees. But NewBees works with refugees; they are working with us. That is the beauty of NewBees.”

To support newcomers like Ninah, learn more about how you can make a direct impact on the lives of motivated newcomers in the Netherlands today.

#NewBees #Volunteering

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