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Through the eyes of our team: Appeltjes Van Oranje 2022!

The finale of Appeltjes Van Oranje has come and gone, but its lasting impact has remained as we continue to celebrate our meaningful contribution to youth development in Aruba through our heart-work!

© Photo courtesy of Oranje Fonds

Speaking of lasting impact, for this edition of “Through the eyes of” we are asking our Director Ms.Siouxsie Kock, and our HCLF Program Manager Miss Keyla Rojas what it was like for them to travel all the way to the Netherlands to attend the Appeltjes Van Oranje ceremony in Den Haag and represent Heart-Centered Leadership Foundation in the finale of Appeltjes Van Oranje.

Here’s what our Director Ms. Siouxsie Kock had to say!

What was it like to be invited to the finale of Appeltjes Van Oranje?

It was an honor to be nominated as one of the finalists in Appeltjes Van Oranje! From what I understood there are 133 organizations that participated in the competition and for us to have been selected out of those 133 organizations as one of the 10 finalists is incredible! It really feels like we received a ‘crown’ on top of our work, like a stamp of approval that cements the value of our work for the development of young people. To have received this acknowledgment makes us reflect on the meaningful work that we contribute to the community of youth in Aruba. Since the finale of Appeltjes Van Oranje, we have received invitations to sit with Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken and Koninkrijksrelaties, we have experienced an increase of interest in our foundation through social media and are getting more attention for our programs. We are hoping that through this experience, we can receive more recognition in Aruba as well.

What did you learn from this experience?

Out of each experience, there is something new to learn from. Since attending the finale of Appeltjes Van Oranje, we have learned more about what other youth organizations are up to, the different ways we as an organization can improve our strategies, get to know new people, and exchange the different experiences we have encountered working with young people. Usually, it is very difficult to explain to someone on a piece of paper the value of the work we do, however, through this event, we were able to express the dedication, determination, and compassion that it takes to make it all happen while in person. We are so grateful to have had the pleasure of meeting the other nominees, but also the driven team within Appeltjes Van Oranje who make these kinds of magical opportunities possible, meet various businesses in the Netherlands, meet Ms. Princess Beatrix, and representatives of Koninkrijksrelaties and Buitenlandse Zaken. This experience has made me realize how important it is to always remain humble and always be open to the learning moments that our work provides us.

What was the most memorable moment during the finale?

When the speakers were announcing the 1st or the 2nd winner, Keyla and I were sitting anxiously in our chairs, saying to ourselves: “Yes, this is it! They are talking about us!”. We believed that because the speakers were describing what the winners were doing through their organization, they were really narrating about us! When we reflect back on this moment, we realized that we were very close to winning which is very exciting. It creates this sense of empowerment and prosperity within us that shows we are equivalent to the work of the winners and that someday; we will be the winners!

Would you do this again?

Yes, of course, I would love to do this again! If down the line in the next Appeltjes Van Oranje we notice that we have activities that correspond with the theme of the year, we will definitely participate again.

Here’s what our HCLF Program Manager Miss Keyla Rojas had to say!

What was it like to be invited to the finale of Appeltjes Van Oranje?

As part of the HCLF team, first of all, it was an honor to be among the 2 nominees in the Dutch Caribbean, and then among the finalists of this year's Appeltjes van Oranje. The nomination was a recognition of the heart work we have done over the years, the heart work of our volunteers, but mostly, a moment to recognize the importance of investing in positive youth development in Aruba.

What did you learn from this experience?

The endless possibilities to include and empower young people, but most importantly, how young people themselves can take action to make changes if they are empowered to do so. How we bring up our children to think and act, to see themselves and their capabilities needs a boost of support from parents, the education system, and the community at large. It really does take a village to raise a child.

What was the most memorable moment during the finale?

The first thing that comes to mind was being able to discuss our work with Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands. It was an enlightening experience.

Would you do this again?

If we can, definitely. It isn't just about being in the final 10, but it's also a unique opportunity to meet and network with other organizations in the Dutch Caribbean islands and the Netherlands, find commonalities, and learn from each other.

We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Oranje Fonds for the recognition and the tremendous opportunity to be able to witness the ceremony in person!

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