While working for seven months on the Greek island of Lesbos, Manon witnessed firsthand how strong and resilient refugees are. So when the opportunity arose to help newcomers in her own country through the launch of NewBees, Manon saw one thing: potential.
“I saw a need, and I wanted to help the organization grow,” she said.
As a project manager, Manon has the privilege of making invaluable connections between newcomers and Dutch organizations.
“It’s a network we try to build — connecting people together, so that your network will grow and you’re not on your own anymore,” she said.
Manon helps both organizations and newcomers understand the benefits of partnering together through volunteering.
“I wish more people knew how easy it is to come into contact with refugees. If they knew what NewBees did, they would say ‘Hey, I want to help,’ or ‘Hey, this is cool, I want to be connected with people.’ We hear a lot of people who want to be connected, but maybe not really doing it. We have a lot of connections.”
Her goal is to not only match newcomers with a rewarding volunteer opportunity, but to find one that matches their background, skills, passions, and experience.
“I try to find the right thing for people. One guy came to me and said he wanted to play futbol with refugees, so I connected him. NewBees is all about helping people connect.”
One example is partnering newcomers with Dutch volunteers, allowing them to work together, practice Dutch and form meaningful relationships. Through the help of Amsterdam Cares, a local non-profit promoting volunteerism, Manon has matched seven newcomers with Dutch volunteers, many of whom choose to spend time together outside of their volunteering hours.
“Refugees don’t want pity,” she said. “They are humans. They have wishes. They have gifts and talents. We can learn from them. They are just normal people.”
Her ultimate goal? Giving newcomers the ability to obtain an internship or paid position down the road.
“It’s a process. As for Dutch people, if you want to work, you need to start somewhere and gain experience. It’s for everybody, not just refugees or newcomers. You have to start somewhere. You have to start by just doing. Take the opportunity.”