Sunday, February 2, 2014

7 Acts of Kindness for Valentine's Day

Photo by Clare Bloomfield
We love the idea of Valentines Day as a time to think about how much we love each other and a special day to bring joy to others.
If you are looking for ways to share love on Valentines Day – that do not focus on transient material goodies – you may like to consider some non-traditional ideas to enjoy this occasion.  It seems a day dedicated to love is a great opportunity for us to instill love for others into our children as well as ourselves.
Spending your physical resources on others outside your immediate circle does not mean your family and close friends have to miss out on the Valentines spirit though.  You can still celebrate Valentines Day by spending time together doing something you enjoy or creating a gift that does not cost anything such as writing a poem or a song.  The key is to show love without focusing on giving or receiving material representations of that love.
The following activities are great for adults, families with young children, or even classrooms to celebrate Valentines Day without becoming preoccupied with the consumerism that this holiday sometimes evokes.

7 Acts of Kindness for Valentines Day

  • Collect coins leading up to Valentines Day in a jar decorated with hearts, and deliver them to a local charity on Valentines Day.
  •  Make Valentines Day treats and hold a Bake Sale (or Lemonade/Hot Chocolate Stand), with proceeds going towards a favorite charity.
  • Participate in an Act of Kindness for someone you do not know… like sending a note of appreciation to an author you admire or contributing a few dollars towards expenses after a sudden tragedy.
  • Send Valentines to a family experiencing hardship.
  • Create Valentines to deliver to a home for the elderly or a homeless shelter.
  • Choose another family and find one way to show love to them – maybe by helping with gardening, babysitting for the evening, or taking over a meal.
  •  Ask your Valentine what their favorite charity is, and donate the same amount of money that you would have spent on a gift or a fancy dinner. 
What if we all decided to use Valentines Day to spread love and kindness beyond our own homes? 
Imagine if we all spent a little *less* money on loved ones who already have enough, and gave a little *more* to those in need?  It can really be quite simple to make a positive difference on this day dedicated to sharing love, if we just look outwards versus focusing inwards. 
Wishing you all a happy Valentines Day full of love for the whole world. xx
(Noted: We originally posted the article from 'Moments a Day' blogpost. This is an updated version, Enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

En dat waren alweer 5 maanden..

Daar zit ik dan, op het kantoor, mijn laatste officiele stagedag is aangebroken. Dat er nu al bijna 5 maanden voorbij zijn klinkt voor mij ongelofelijk, dat zijn bijna 153 dagen!

Al voor mijn aankomst op Curaçao ben ik erg goed opgevangen door de dames. Zo is er bij mijn appartement gekeken, zijn er daar foto’s gemaakt en is er geholpen met de nodige informatie en papieren. Ik keek erg uit naar mijn tijd op Curaçao en dit heeft ook al mijn verwachtingen overtroffen.
In mijn eerste stageweken (september) werd ik erg goed geholpen. In de eerste week voelde ik mij al erg thuis en had ik het idee dat ik al goed ingewerkt was. Dit komt mede dankzij de leuke werkomgeving en ik wist zeker dat dit een leerzame en leuke periode zal worden.

Er liepen al gelijk veel projecten, de dames waren druk met de Curaçao Clean Up en hier heb ik, daar waar mogelijk, gelijk geassisteerd. Dit was dan ook gelijk het eerste grote project wat ik mee maakte. Wat een tijd en moeite zat hierin, maar hier heb ik al een uitgebreide blog over geschreven (
Hierna volgden vele andere projecten zoals bijvoorbeeld: ”Autumn-Camp”  (BearingPoint Caribbean); “EY 65+” (Ernst & Young) en de “Clothing drive” (Girocares). 

Elk van deze projecten was zeer goed uitgedacht en het is fantastisch om te zien dat ook de medewerkers van de bedrijven een grote betrokkenheid toonden. Mijn aandeel in de verschillende projecten was zeer divers, van het helpen bij de projecten tot het ontwerpen van de inschrijfformulieren en het contact met de pers. Naast het helpen bij deze projecten waren er op de achtergrond natuurlijk ook allerlei andere werkzaamheden die moesten worden uitgevoerd. Zo heb ik mij veel bezig gehouden met de analyse van de communicatie/marketing plannen, de social media, google anaytics en zo kan ik nog wel even doorgaan.

Inmiddels is mijn laatste dag dus aangebroken en zitten wij midden in het project CURA DOET, het grootste vrijwilligersproject van het koninkrijk. Ik kan deze helaas niet helemaal als medewerker van Curaçao Cares meemaken, maar ik ga dit zeker volgen in Nederland.

De tijd is snel gegaan, heel snel. Ik wil nogmaals een heel groot compliment maken naar Curaçao Cares. Ik heb mij erg thuis gevoeld, en over de begeleiding heb ik ook niks te klagen gehad. Jullie gaven mij veel verantwoordelijkheden, met daarnaast ook de ruimte om te leren.

In mijn blog over de Curaçao Clean Up gaf ik het al even aan, maar de toewijding die deze dames voor de projecten hebben die zij realiseren is ongelofelijk. Ik had mij geen beter stagebedrijf kunnen wensen.

Masha masha danki voor deze mogelijkheid!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

EY65+more: From EY with love

“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving”- Mother Theresa

That was the theme of EY Curaçao’s Office Day 2013, a day in which EY Curaçao chose to not only celebrate their employees but to also reaffirm their commitment to the community. During EY Office Day, a committee of employees presented “EY65+more”, a series of unique volunteer projects where all employees could choose to lend a helping hand with the aim of giving 65 hours+more back to the community. All EY-ers were invited to roll up their sleeves in support of an afterschool program, an elderly home, a foster home, a farm for persons with limitations and families all around the island. The call to action was answered immediately, as many EY-ers signed up at the first hour to join the several projects!

Many ways to give
The aim was to complete 5 community projects from November 1st to November 9th, but due to the rainy weather forecast the dates were extended. Yet the excitement did not vanish for a moment! Even with torrential rainfall, all EY volunteers read up on the ostrich and showed up to the first project: a reading excursion with children of Fundashon Ban Stimulá Lesamentu to the Ostrich Farm. Thanks to EY most children were able to see the animal they had studied and read about during animal month in real life.

In the meantime, even the office was being transformed. Meeting rooms were cleared for storage, as employees collected basic care items to give to 65 families in need for the holidays. An extensive package with buckets, towels and all sorts of items to pamper the body were sorted during two days, packaged with love and sealed with a personal message. These items were handed to Fundashon Mami Sa, Voedselbank Curaçao, Stichting Acute Noodhulp Armoede and a monastery.
Also not bothered by the weather was a Picasso team ready to brighten the days of approximately 65 children living at Huize St.Jozef/Rose Pelletier. Led by artist Roberto Tjon-a-Meeuw, about 21 children and several EY volunteers had a fun-filled and heartwarming day full of laughter, song, and color. The end product: this beautiful mural masterpiece they can proudly look at every day!

At Mi Amparo in Habaai, our elders also received a token of appreciation that they can take advantage of daily: a life-size checkers board to keep them active! None was happier than one of the daily visitors, Cedric, whose son happened to be a previous checkers champion. In about three hours, a team of advisors, accountants and auditors strategized to bring a board game to life. 

Building a better community
When Zorgboerderij de Savaan advertised that they needed all the hands they could use to rebuild what was left behind after their farm was destroyed for no reason, EY-ers stepped up to the plate. On an early Saturday morning, EY volunteers joined others as they cleared the old to build the new!
We always believed that when people come together they can achieve wonderful things, and in every single one of the EY volunteer projects this was demonstrated anew. Kudos to all of the EY volunteers who brought forth smiles, warmed hearts and left a positive mark by giving with all of their heart.

As a company EY has demonstrated through 65 years of excellence a commitment to making the difference for their clients, their people and their community.

THANK YOU for the LOVE EY, and we wish you 65+ many more years of building a better community.     

For more pictures of EY65+more visit:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bearingpoint Caribbean’s Autumn Camp: Empowering the next generation of students

Summer break is not the only time to organize an awesome camp; this year Bearingpoint Caribbean (BE) organized its first ever Autumn Camp! The goal of this skills-camp was to have an impact on young people’s lives by offering them opportunities to learn, to discover talents and to be exposed to new and stimulating environments and experiences. Curaçao Cares invited Fundashon Kompa Nanzi’s leerinstituut Klimop to participate with a selection of children between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.

Day 1 kicked off with energetic introductory words by MC ‘Tio’ Gino Jacobs, Senior Consultant at Bearingpoint. Every student also received a Welcome packet comprised of a t-shirt, a USB stick and other school supplies. The group then took a tour of Bearingpoint’s office, where they had a chance to look behind the scenes and speak with different employees. The students were really impressed by Manager Icheron Constancia, who spoke about his journey before and with Bearingpoint and the many opportunities he has had to travel and grow both professionally and personally. But the Autumn Camp was off to its official start when students were paired with a ‘buddy’, a BE employee, during the icebreaker game. The buddies hit it off from the get go. One could immediately tell that this group of potential IT specialists were excited and eager to get started!

‘Tio’ in the morning, Consultant in the afternoon
Each student was paired one-on-one with a BearingPoint buddy, meaning every student in fact had a personal Consultant/Analyst, Senior Consultant or even Senior Manager/Director devoted to supporting them along the way (the privilege!). A meeting room was turned into the designated Autumn Camp lab where students partook in different workshops on MS PowerPoint, presentation techniques and other IT and professional skills.They even got a quick session from consultant Kris Samsom on how to navigate the BE informed software platform. By the end of it they helped create a model that would predict whether they would pass the year: input = hasi bo best + (afhankelijk van) hal bon punto = output: exito sigur!”. The Autumn Camp classroom was filled with enthusiastic energy from both the students and the employees.

To inspire and to be inspired…
They say never to underestimate a child. This reigned true throughout the Autumn Camp. On Wednesday, the last day of the Autumn Camp, it was presentation time! The students and their buddies had a special assignment to work out a 5-minute presentation that would answer the following three questions; who is your idol, what are the characteristics that make your idol so inspiring and how can these characteristics benefit Curacao?

A panel of judges would pick out their favourite presentations. When the time came, a few students were a little nervous, seemingly going through Senior Consultant Menno Vinck’s presentation do’s and don’ts in their head. But all of them were determined! It was remarkable to see the effort that all of these students took to apply what they had learned, and to share what had inspired them and what they think should serve as inspiration for Curaçao. The winning presentation by Rajeev Sanchez was a smartly crafted powerpoint..but it was the message that was most powerful:”Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go”, by -T.S Elliott. For Rajeev, Alton Paas is a perfect role model for Curacaoans: a young man that was not afraid to pursue what he believed was possible and to persevere despite the obstacles.

The conclusion of the Autumn Camp: Bearingpoint Caribbean’s young and dynamic staff paid it forward by sharing their passions and talents, but they were also inspired as they saw the young students rise to the occasion.

For more pictures of the Autumn Camp visit

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Spotlighting Giovani Zanolino on World Teacher Day

Giovani Zanolino
Giovani in class
In the month of June (2013) a Curaçao based mixed media artist, Giovani Zanolino, volunteered his time and talent during a visual arts project at the Van Houte School in Breivengat, Curaçao. He taught and guided the students in creating their own mixed media collages using photographs, magazines and acrylic paint. The results were not short of AMAZING!

We asked Giovani: Looking back at your volunteer teaching experience during the project, sharing your time and talent with the kids, how was it? And secondly, how would you describe a great teacher (in any field)?

Student Collage
Student collage
"I had a great time participating in this project. I was very impressed by the talent of the children we worked with. They had a clear intuition for color and form and I would do another project like this in a heartbeat. It was really fun and satisfying to see them surprise themselves. I enjoyed seeing the kids realise they have talents they didn't know of yet. I am  very happy too see Curaçao Cares stimulating our youth to express themselves in a positive way, and especially to see them giving these children more opportunities to believe in themselves. With time and nurturing we can help cultivate creativity, confidence and unity in our community. 

Student Collage
Student Collage
I think a good teacher must have the ability to communicate well, but especially to lead by example. All my best teachers were simply good genuine people. Through honesty and purity they connect to you on a higher, often subconscious level. So if you Love what you do, you will probably be a teacher to many. But for our schoolteachers I would suggest a good dose of patience and compassion as a big plus."

Monday, September 23, 2013

De Curaçao Clean Up 2013

Rond de 2000 (!!) vrijwilligers en bijna 500.000 (!!) kilo afval. Deze resultaten liegen er niet om, de Curaçao Clean Up 2013 was een groot succes. Vanwege mijn stage bij Curaçao Cares heb ik een klein deel van dit 3 maanden durende proces richting de Clean Up 2013 mogen meemaken.

Een groot punt is mij opgevallen: de toewijding. Aan alles merkte je het, deze dag moest slagen en de organisatie moest en zal op alles voorbereid zijn. Zo werd dan ook elk puntje uitgewerkt: draaiboeken, logistieke processen, promotionele activiteiten, zorg voor vrijwilligers, veiligheid en zo kan ik nog wel even doorgaan. Vergaderingen van langer dan 4 uur, avond- en nachtwerk zijn geen vreemde termen voor de organisatie. Alles voor hun “Dushi Kòrsou”.

De dag
21 September 2013, de Clean Up day is begonnen. Het kantoor van Curaçao Cares is omgedoopt tot “Headquarters” en vanaf hier worden de eventuele problemen verholpen en maakt de organisatie rondes over het eiland. Ook worden er direct updates met foto’s op Facebook gezet. Zelf reed ik een ronde mee naar verschillende locaties.

De eerste locatie was de onderbouw van de Albert Schweitzer school, waar mij gelijk de grote stapel vuilniszakken opviel. De eerste stop en gelijk zo’n top prestatie, dit beloofde nog wat voor de komende locaties. En inderdaad mijn voorspelling kwam uit, bij de volgende bezoeken aan koraal specht, scherpenheuvel en ronde klip waren de resultaten niet de minste. Wat een (opgeruimde) troep heb ik voorbij zien komen! Het fanatisme wat ik heb gezien en gehoord van de vrijwilligers zal ik niet snel vergeten.

Rond 12 uur komen wij terug aan bij “Headquarters” en gelukkig is de dag bijna geheel vlekkeloos verlopen. De opluchting is goed bij de organisatie te zien, maar naast dit is er ook het besef dat dit zonder alle vrijwilligers/sponsors en partners niet was gelukt. Iedereen is het eens, wat een geweldige inzet van alle partijen.

De resultaten
Met het ophalen van bijna een half miljoen kilo afval denk ik dat er een heel goed begin is gemaakt. Ik heb de organisatie en de vrijwilligers uit liefde voor hun eiland Curaçao zien werken en dat is heel bijzonder om mee te maken. Als dit fanatisme wordt vastgehouden en naar nog meer mensen wordt overgebracht dan gaat deze Curaçao Clean Up 2013 nog hele mooie gevolgen hebben.

Als laatste nogmaals mijn petje af voor de vrijwilligers, de organisatie, de meewerkende bedrijven/scholen/sponsors en iedereen die een bijdrage heeft gehad aan de Curaçao Clean Up 2013! Zonder jullie was dit geweldige begin aan een schoner Curaçao niet gemaakt.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

From Passion to Project...

by Lysaye de Windt

Class Routine
Me: “Ok class, let’s see if you remember… When I photograph a subject from and very low angle, how will it appear... class: “Larger than usual”… Me: “And if I take the same photograph from an high angle, looking down at the subject, how will it look now? Class: “Much smaller!”

The Beginning...
About a year ago, Mrs. Dulcie Goedgedrag had mentioned that Mrs. Roline Sillé, principal at the Van Houte School, might need some help with photographing some pupils of her school. She suggested I get in touch with Mrs. Sille. Little did I know, this project would become such an amazing journey including photography, teaching, learning, sharing, volunteering and a main motivation for what is today, Curaçao Cares.

Mrs. Sillé shared that; “I’ve noticed that some of my students have a low self-esteem as they are continuously being teased about not being pretty enough etc. I would love for you to photograph them, so they can see their natural beauty, and build their self-confidence.”

I started thinking how much more of an impact it would have to not only photograph these kids, but to also teach them how to view their surroundings from a different perspective through a lens; teach them about photography. The mission: to teach circa 90 pupils of this special education school about visual art and to enable them to use photography as a medium for self-expression. In developing their social and creative skills the students would also have an opportunity to increase their self-assurance. Ultimately, the Van Houte School pupils would participate in a number of photography classes, photography excursions, photo review session, mixed-media classes and in the end an exhibit showcasing their talent.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do SO MUCH.”
Maduro & Curiel's Bank was looking for a project in the Brievengat nieghborhood in which their employees could participate as volunteers. When they found out about the visual arts project, they were excited to participate.

MCB volunteer in action - photo excursion in Fleur de Marie
The MCB volunteers joined the photography classes and shared their love for photography and left the students with useful advice in preparation for their photo excursions. They joined the students on several field trips to Fleur de Marie, Sint Annabaai harbor, Landhuis Bloemhof and Parke Tropikal, based on the school’s curriculum, ranging from topics like Punda, the harbor and nature. With each click of the shutter to capture their images, students were encouraged to answer two questions: First, 'what inspired you and why did you choose to capture it from that particular angle'?

Photograph by student @  Parke Tropikal
Curacao Zoo & Nature Reserve
We could see the students self-confidence grow as they saw their photograph projected during class. But as creativity is endless, the project did not end there. Giovani Zanolino gladly accepted the invitation to share his mixed-media skills with the students. The student’s favorite photograph was used as part of their collage masterpiece. As the MCB volunteers helped the students cut and glue their collage together, Giovanni guided them in bringing their collage to life. Last but not least a third element was added the work; the element of paint.
Giovani Zanolino volunteering
during the collage sessions @ van Houte School

The exhibit
After many hours of planning and organizing to crystalize this project, the best part is yet to come. On Saturday July 6th 2013, we invite everyone to 'Ban Topa den Punda' as Curaçao Cares together with MCB will host the van Houte School student art exhibit at Plaza JoJo Correa, revealing the students photographs and mixed media collages.

A very special Thank You goes to Saskia de Rijke from Connect Business Advisory for volunteering her consulting and writing skills and Maduro & Curiel's Bank for generously supporting to realize every single detail of this project. We could not have put this together without the commitment of MCB volunteers!