WesternOrphans: the story
Many orphans are trying to make the best of their lives. In far away countries and maybe even in your own street. There have always been orphans, there are orphans today, and there will always be orphans.
In order to make the best of their lives, these kids need information. Practical information about how to get things done. And they need people around them who are supportive. Who believe in their abilities. Who are willing to share their knowledge with them, and give them a helping hand.
And that is easier than most people think. In fact, you could do something. And it doesn't have to be that hard. Really.
WesternOrphans started in 2007 as a project called Blogging For Good, which grew into 'WeesWijzer' (that means as much as 'be wiser' and 'guide for orphans'. The word 'wees' has a double meaning in Dutch). We started with a wildly ambitious plan to start crowdsourcing the necessary information. Online. Through wikis, blogs and other platforms.
Seven people responded. Seven. It was clear that we had a problem.
We figured out what the issues were. There were two:
1. nobody knew what crowdsourcing was in 2007. Online communications is my daily job in my company, but I was a tad naive in expecting that the rest of my friends and connections knew what it was.
2. nobody knew that there are so many orphans living in western countries. And that they have issues.
I decided to work on both things. First; wait until social media and online collaboration was 'common'. Then: share the story and inform people. Help them understand.
And yes, it has happened to me.
My parents passed away when I was fourteen years old. I had to take care of myself, basically. And it was not easy. This year, twenty-four years later, my story has come out. It's out in the open. It was published on January 18th 2013. And a great many things have changed since. On December 18th, the English translation is due for international publication.
And I really hope you will read it. It's not a sobbing story.
It's quite powerful and positive, actually. It's about facing reality. Dealing with it. And discovering that true strength reveals itself in feeling vulnerability. It's about empowerment.
Some stories are confrontational. Other stories are like little windows. My reason for sharing my own story is: raise public awareness about orphans (and other children who cannot live with their parents) in western countries. To let you discover what YOU can do. Without crossing your own (or the child's) boundaries in any way.
You may read the introduction and four chapters for free (32 pages).
I explain all about the 'why' in the introduction. Go on. Read it. It's free. Really.
If you want to read the whole book, it's not for free. But going through those twenty-four years after my parents' passing wasn't free for me either. I'm sure you'll understand. You can get your own copy on Amazon. Or on Kobo.com, if you want an e-book. And if you want to receive a custom made package of match sticks (yes! The Match Stick Girl! But then with a good ending!), just ask. I have made some myself (while stocks last).
If you have any questions or wish to respond after reading the book: feel free.