A new director for Boat Refugee Foundation!
My name is Esther Vonk. The new director at the Boat Refugee Foundation. The warmth of Annerieke's farewell is the same warmth that Team Boat Refugee Foundation welcomed me with! Through Social Media you asked me a number of questions which I answered personally. We highlighted some of them for you. Will you read along?
How is your interaction with the people who work under your hand?
“I believe in the wisdom of the collective. Boat Refugee Foundation and the work we do is a result of many hands, heads, and hearts. I like to work in a collaborative way, in recognition of everyone’s distinct tasks and contributions. I aim to guide and coach rather than be unnecessarily hierarchical – which fits the spirit of Boat Refugee Foundation.”
How do you feel about the Greek state's policy and response to migration?
“As BRF we provide essential medical and psychosocial support to people who have had to flee their countries, which is often not provided or accessible for people stuck at the borders of Europe. Welcoming people on the move in a humane manner, and with respect for their rights, should be a collective European responsibility – not solely that of the countries where refugees arrive first. As long as EU-member states do not adopt a different approach, as BRF we will do what is necessary in support of and in solidarity with people on the move at the borders of Europe.”
What message would you like to give to the followers of Boat Refugee Foundation?
“2023 will, again, be a year in which we will undoubtedly face many challenges as Boat Refugee Foundation. We see the increasingly harsh situation for those who find themselves stocks on the borders of Europe. We also see the Europe-wide movement towards closing the borders even more hermetically. And in the Netherlands, we see our failure to properly receive the -few- people who seek asylum here and provide them with even the most essential support.
It is our challenge, and our commitment, to move with the ever-changing reality. To be relevant and flexible. To be meaningful and impactful. To be present there where it is needed most. We want people on the move to have access to basic human rights, including the right to health care. At the same time, we want to contribute to change and social justice, in systems and practices. We want to show and share the realities that people on the move are confronted with at the borders of Europe, and what the consequences of our policies are.
In addition to direct medical and psychosocial care and our advocacy we will focus on strengthening our base: strengthening the systems and structure in our organisation, so we have a solid base for the work our team and our many volunteers are doing.”