Growing up as the youngest of 7, in a large house in The Netherlands
life was full of adventure, laughter and quite a bit of pranking among the
siblings. Our parents had us all play sports, an instrument and it was a given
that we would be helping out with daily chores around the house.
Our parents were loving but also firm and helped us cope with challenges and
setbacks so that we could develop resilience and capacities that were important
once we reached adulthood and ventured out into the world.
Once the older kids were off to college, my parents moved with the three
youngest to Suriname, in South America. If you’d ask me what part of growing
up in our family has had the greatest impact it would have to be the way our
parents taught us, in words and more importantly, by example, how to love and embrace the beauty of diversity in the world and appreciate different cultures, religions and traditions. We were brought up to believe that all humanity is one family and that the world is in a way really just one homeland.
When returning to the Netherlands to study history and international development I had my sights set on working for the United Nations as I felt that it would allow me to contribute to the betterment of the world while also continue to get to know new people and places.
Before moving with my husband to New York City to work for the World Health Organization I lived in Romania where I started an Import/Export company and Israel where I served at the Baha’i International Centre in an office dedicated to supporting social and economic development projects around the world.
When our daughter was born in 1999 we moved, also with the United Nations, to Africa where we lived for 8 years, in 3 different countries. In Eritrea I was part of a group of parents that started an English speaking pre-school as there was none available at the time. It was also during this time that I took part in training to work with children and junior youth in particular in developing their moral and intellectual capabilities. In Sudan I worked with the United Nations in the areas of planning, monitoring and evaluating programmes and projects.
Back in New York, this time with UNICEF, we had the great joy and bounty to adopt our son from Ethiopia. Barely two, he had a mind and spirit bursting with curiosity about his new family and the world. I took a break from working outside the home and spent time with him, exploring the playgrounds, libraries, coffeeshops and parks and all the other places where moms or nannies hang out with their young charges. It was during this period that a close friend and I co-founded a company called FACT (Family Advanced Childcare Training), dedicated to offering training for parents and nannies. Our work has grown and thrived and today we offer workshops at schools, retreats, neighborhood community centers and in people’s homes.
As a life coach I work with individual parents and families from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures and help them identify challenges and strengths in their parenting, clarify goals and align their hopes and aspirations with the day to day reality of busy family life.