13 januari 2006- Ms Willemijn Verloop, Executive Director and founder of War Child Netherlands, has received a knighthood, Officer in the Order of Oranje-Nassau. The mayor of Amsterdam, Mr Job Cohen, handed over the recognition to Willemijn at a big musical surprise party in Amsterdam’s music temple Paradiso.
Verloop has been given this recognition because of her efforts for the cause of world peace and for her work, giving children who have been victimized by war a new perspective for their lives and future.
Willemijn Verloop was touched and very surprised by the recognition she received with this knighthood. “I feel great honour for receiving this recognition for my work. And at the same time I would like to point out that I have not achieved this by myself. Thanks to a great team that has worked with me over the years, we are where we are now. That is why I would like to cut this decoration into lots of smaller pieces and pin these on everybody who helped us. Especially our people in the field, those who are doing the real work right now, certainly deserve this decoration."
The knighthood was requested by a large number of people, from broad ranges of Dutch society. Amongst others state-minister Els Borst, political leader of GroenLinks Paul Rosenmöller, Comedian Freek de Jonge, radio and TV entrepreneur Lex Harding and the director of the Anne Frank Foundation Hans Westra. The first initiative was taken by War Child ambassador Marco Borsato.
‘After her studies, Willemijn stepped into a vacuum:, says War Child ambassador Marco Borsato. ‘Where no other Dutch organization focussed on psycho social aid to children of war, she took the initiative to help this group of people. It is through her personal efforts and never-ending energy to fight for a better world, that a large public has become aware of the fate of children in war zones around the world, that hundreds of thousands of children in conflict areas have been helped and many thousands of volunteers, private individuals and companies in the Netherlands are now contributing to that cause.’
Willemijn founded War Child Holland in 1995, after being inspired by the work of music therapist Nigel Osborne, who was then employed by War Child UK. In music workshops she saw the fear and shyness of children in bomb shelters in Bosnia, transformed into joy, happiness, and lots of fun.
She thereby experienced how meaningful it was to give this youngest generation new life energy, to empower them and help them leave the war behind them, both in reality as well as in their minds. That is the first step in realizing a peaceful future, and that is the ideal for which Willemijn Verloop has dedicated her life: World Peace.
Willemijn initially started War Child as a volunteer besides her job for the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans. In 1997 she began as executive and general director of War Child Netherlands.
A specific achievement of Willemijn is that a large part of our population now believes in the necessity of aid towards children in war zones, and that she has also been able to inspire, motivate and activate many kids and young people for that same cause. In the Netherlands War Child now has a brand recognition of 93% and a strong backbone of around 80.000 people: War Child Members, donators, sponsors, and volunteers.
When she founded War Child Holland in 1995, her goal was to provide aid to as many children as possible. From her vision and beliefs she has inspiredly lead War Child Holland to great heights. War Child Holland now is an independent aid organization which has specialized in psycho social aid to children that have been victimized by war and conflict. The organization grew from 1 person in 1996, to 40 people in the Netherlands and 600 staff in the field and abroad. All together they now reach 675.000 children in 12 countries on a yearly basis.
Because of the enormous numbers of children that is a victim of wars and conflicts worldwide, it is War Child Holland’s ambition to reach 1 million children of war on a yearly basis in 2010.
THE ORDER OF ORANJE-NASSAU
The Order of Oranje Nassau is the centerpiece of the Honours System in The Netherlands, and recognizes very special achievements for society and community as a whole. The Order recognizes people in all sectors of Dutch society. Their contributions are varied, yet they have all spent their lives in service and stimulation of others, or have reached special achievements that have been of special value for society.
The status of Officer recognizes: a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially in service to The Netherlands or to humanity at large