Column CEO: My cradle stood in the Netherlands, and that brings a responsibility

Written by: Agnes Kroese

A large group of people has gathered around the ambulance. It is July 2023 and I am in a remote village in Syria. The ambulance comes here once a month and is the only medical post in the wide area. In the vehicle lies a woman. She wipes the tears from her eyes. Years ago, she and her husband had already given up hope of having children, and now it turns out she is pregnant. I am happy for her and congratulate her warmly. At the same time, I wonder what the life of this child will be like. What does it mean when your cradle stands in Syria?

The Syrians have been in the grip of a gruesome conflict for years. Last year, on February 6th, a devastating earthquake occurred. Early that day, with a pounding heart, I called Najla, our Country Director for Syria. It took some effort to reach her. Not because she was injured – or worse – but because she and her team had immediately sprung into action, busy arranging safe shelters, food, water, and medical care. When I stood among the ruins myself last summer and spoke to the people who are still dependent on Dorcas and other organisations for their basic needs to this day, it touched me deeply: ‘What if I had been born here? Would I even still be alive?’

This month also marks the second ‘anniversary’ of the invasion in Ukraine. A few months ago, I visited my Dorcas colleagues close to the eastern front. The people here were concerned about the fighters at the front and feared for the future. At the same time, I saw determination; giving up was not an option. Once again, the same questions almost choked me. What if I had been born in Ukraine? How would I cope with the fear for the safety of my loved ones who would fight for my freedom?

My cradle stood in the Netherlands, allowing me to grow up in peace and good conditions and giving me the opportunity to develop into the person I am now. Being born here is a valuable gift, for which I did nothing. The opportunities I received because of this fill me with gratitude.

At the same time, I often struggle with the question of why I got those chances and others did not. I don’t have the answer to that question, but I do know that this gift also brings the responsibility to share and, following, to show something of God’s love and goodness through our actions. To people who need it here, but also in countries like Syria and Ukraine.

Agnes Kroes is CEO of Dorcas. Agnes: “I contribute with great dedication to our mission in creating opportunities for people and communities to flourish. One of the ways I do this is through a monthly column in Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad. In this column, I share insights from my professional experience at Dorcas. My aim is to inspire, inform and encourage readers to engage with Dorcas’ initiatives, campaigns, and projects. “

10 February 2024

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