Eight months ago, when the organization Amsterdam Cares was looking for a way to get involved with helping nearby newcomers, they partnered with NewBees to create a new concept — matching refugees with Dutch locals to do volunteer work together.
“We wanted to do something for refugees, but we didn’t know what,” said Caroline Cranen of Amsterdam Cares. “We were searching for the best way to do something for refugees, and we found NewBees.”
The non-profit offers flexible volunteer opportunities to Dutch locals, but wanted to do something that involved newcomers as well.
“This accomplishes many things,” said Caroline. “It gives refugees a chance to interact with Dutch locals, practice the Dutch language, and learn more about the Dutch culture first-hand.”
Caroline was surprised at the high level of Dutch the NewBees could already speak upon matching. She was also amazed by the mindsets of the volunteers: “The refugees are saying, ‘I’m here now, and I want to build something new, volunteer, go back to school,’ and so on — it’s real ambition. They are very smart and well-educated.”
She sees the partnership as a chance for both newcomers and locals to benefit.
“It’s good for refugees to learn more about the Dutch society, but it’s also good, for example, for the elderly here to meet new people, people from another culture — I think it’s a win-win.”
“Refugees are just normal people. They are like us. They had a normal life, similar to our lives. It’s great to meet them and talk about their culture.”
“It’s very good for refugees to volunteer. I think it’s the first step for later paid work or a real job. It’s good to know the Dutch society, to learn more about it, to meet new people. Our matches do volunteer work together, but they also see each other much more than only volunteering. They have dinner together, and some of them are becoming friends.”