Column CEO: Sleepless nights

Written by: Agnes Kroese, CEO of Dorcas

Of course, I’ve had some sleepless nights over the past few weeks. I would lie staring at the ceiling, feeling a knot in my stomach when thinking about what awaits us with this new cabinet. A minister who has repeatedly made it clear in the past that she is not a fan of supporting people in need. A minister who is no longer responsible for development cooperation but for development aid.

You might think: ‘What’s in a name?’ But even this name change is so telling. Where for years we have worked to move away from the ‘white saviour complex’ and have stood alongside people instead of positioning ourselves above them as a development organisation, the new name clearly signifies a step backwards. ‘Aid’ implies a power dynamic: I am the helper, you are the one in need, and soon the person who needs help is seen as weak and incapable. At Dorcas, we prefer to speak of ‘supporting,’ which is based on the strength of the people themselves. We believe in the wonderful potential that each person has received from God.

It’s not the consequences of cuts in development cooperation that keep me awake at night. We are incredibly grateful for our loyal supporters. Due to their involvement in prayer and financial support, we are not completely dependent on government subsidies. But I worry about the equality of people; I see how it is increasingly at risk. In the choice of a ministerial title, but also closer to home, around me. How people talk about each other, how relationships harden, and opinions are fired at each other like toxic arrows, without seeing the person behind the opinion.

Based on the new minister’s past, you could say that Dorcas has every reason to be suspicious. To feel abandoned as an organisation. Is what we have built over the past years now being undone? Fortunately, it’s not about us as Dorcas. It’s not about a minister and not about a cabinet that does not hold development cooperation in high regard. It’s about fellow human beings in need. Looking back at what has been is not really my thing. Looking out for people in need, wherever they are, is a Biblical command that gets me out of bed every morning. Giving them the tools to realise their own development ignites an energy in me that makes me rise with fresh courage even after a restless night.

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.

06 July 2024

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