Interview Wim van Welzen

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Wim van Welzen, born in 1962. I am a Christian living in Holland, married with Marga. We have six children, three children-in-law and two grand-children. I live in a village near Gouda, “the cheese city”. The people around me would describe me as someone with a broad vision and always active to move things forward.

In my earlier days, I acquired two master degrees: one in mechanical engineering and one in business administration. These days I am active as entrepreneur and director of WVS Consulting. Outside my daily work, I am seated in our local church council and have quite different hobby’s like beekeeping, black smiting, wood working, photographing, cooking, flying, sailing and reading.

How did you become involved in development work in Africa?

In the year 2004, a friend asked me to join him in visiting a few potential aid projects for his foundation. We visited Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South–Africa. He warned me that there was a risk that I would get hooked firmly to Africa. And he was right. I was a frequent visitor thereafter. Every time I come there, I feel welcome and enjoy the human interaction.

I am convinced that I took more from Africa than I brought there. Of course not in the monetary sense, but in terms of the life lessons that I learned on the continent.

Besides some aid projects sponsored by our company, my ambition has always been to initiate private sector development. I must admit that this is rewarding to do, but very difficult to stabilize financially.

There are many NGO’s in Africa, why did you decide to start CCA?

Yes indeed, there are many NGO’s in Africa. In the course of time I noticed that they are doing good things, but also that they have specialized themselves in marketing and in pleasing (institutional) donors.

When we started looking for a suitable partner, we could not find NGO’s focusing on child care in our target areas. It is quite surprising, but true. You have to consider that activities of NGO’s are driven by the agenda of large donors. Apparently, children in poor areas are not important politically?

CCA offers companies the opportunity to give vulnerable children better starting positions for a brighter future. If every company would support as many children as they have employees, we can make a huge difference.

Why the focus on children and education?

There is a Jewish saying that “Whoever saves one live, saves the world entire”. It is not an exaggeration to state that orphans in poor areas have no future. You can really change a life with minimum input and dedication. Educated children/youth have so many more opportunities. It is a shameful waste to let those opportunities pass. It is very rewarding to support children who have nothing to lose and so much to gain. I sometimes wonder why not many more individuals or companies are supporting them.

How often do you visit the programmes in Africa?

Not nearly as much as I would want to. If possible I go there twice a year.

At times I give my WVS colleagues the opportunity to see what we as a company are doing in Africa. They visit the CCA programmes and see and experience the impact. They fulfull assignments in Africa and give a presentation back home in the Netherlands. They often return home with many new insights and experiences. They will start to assess their own life differently.

What is your dream for CCA?

I pray that in 10 years, Child Care Africa serves and supports 1.000 children to provide a route out of the poverty trap. We do this holistically, by providing not only education, but care, attention, food, a place to sleep, medication, clean water, soap, school uniform, etc.. These children will be empowered to support other needy children in the future. Hopefully there will be much less of them by then.