Melanie Hellendoorn, a Social work student at Windesheim, recently took part in a special meeting. Through a video connection, she spoke to Queen Máxima about her volunteer work as the buddy of an eleven-year-old boy.
The conversation was part of a digital working visit that Máxima paid to Kadera and Bindkracht10. These two organizations work to help vulnerable families with complex problems. Student Melanie is a volunteer for Kadera, last year she was the ‘buddy’ of an eleven-year-old boy who had a difficult situation at home.
Just a human
“I was asked if I wanted to do this only two days prior to the meeting,” Melanie says. “I immediately said yes calmly, but then I immediately called my sister: you have to hear what I’m going to do!”
“Before the conversation with Máxima, I told myself: she’s just a normal human being. But the moment we had one-on-one contact, which took about ten minutes, I was a bit nervous.”
Walking the dog
Despite the fact that the conversation was on Zoom, it still felt personal, Melanie says. “It was a lot of fun, she came across as very sweet and she even made some jokes. I noticed that she really wanted to hear what we as volunteers had to say.”
Máxima was especially curious about what a volunteer can add to the professional assistance program that the boy is in together with his mother and siblings. “I talked about what we did together. Nice things, such as walking my dog for example. The boy and I both really love animals, so that was a strong connecting factor.”
“And Máxima asked what the most important thing is to me. I answered: that you are there for that person and that you are not busy with anything else at those moments. I sometimes asked how the contact with his father was now, but I noticed that he mainly wanted undivided attention from me. He has a lot of brothers and sisters and with Kadera he lives in a place with many other families, so it is all quite busy for him. I understand his need to just casually get some ice cream.”
Melanie received a video afterwards, a short summary of the digital working visit. “When I looked at that, I was quite proud. Especially because that video highlighted everything that I stand for and support. So I feel really proud to have been able to do this. Nobody can ever take this experience away from me.” (WvE)