2018 in a nutshell: Willem & Wendy brainstorm session

2018 in a nutshell. Above: Willem & Wendy having a brainstorm session about starting up their own company after an interesting and highly intense year with Tearfund in Iraq.

I can still hear Wendy say ‘We really have to post a blog soon…’. A few weeks later the same message comes from me and so we continue to follow each other without picking up a pen. We have only posted two blogs and the first was in February of this year. But now, dear friends.. in the last weeks of this year.. of our period in Iraq.. as an employee of Tearfund it’s finally there.. 2018 in a nutshell: A blog!


Sometimes I hardly dare to write. Feeling guilty about the fact that we have been so quiet. In the first six months in particular, we were socially rather antisocial. In 2017 I often prayed for a new challenge. Well, let me tell you one thing… Beware of what you pray for. Because we have gotten that challenge! And how!

Unique challenges and lots of change

To start with: We are doing well. We are tired but satisfied. Feel healthy again both physically and mentally. Can exercise frequently, eat healthy and live in a beautiful apartment two minutes walk from the office. We have devoted the majority of the past year and the hours spent in a day, to work, work and more work. Of course we knew that when we left for Iraq with Tearfund, that we would work a lot and that there was a big challenge awaiting us. However, we did not expect that there would be so much to do! The amount of changes that have been made in one year have been unique for us (and believe me, we are quite used to change).


The challenge with emergency aid projects is not just about the fact that you may have to live in dangerous places. That it’s freaking hot or just as cold as ice. You have to deal with rules that can make life very complicated. And where everything around you constantly changes. There is more… For example, finding qualified people who want to serve in a country like Iraq. The impact of a lack of employees means that you sometimes have to perform multiple roles for too long a period. In addition, you have the non-stop personnel changes going on around you. On average people do not stay for seven years, but only for about one year. And there are many different and understandable reasons for this.


The program in Iraq is Tearfund’s largest project. When the situation escalated with ISIS in 2014, Tearfund came to Iraq and in four years the organisation in Iraq has grown from nothing to a $ 10 million portfolio with around 110 employees. The team worked very hard to serve people in Iraq through CASH, Livelihoods, Protection, Social Cohesion, NFI and WASH projects in various places in Iraq including Mosul and Kirkuk.


2018 has been a year of continuous change but also a year of stabilization. A year in which we switched from a top-down to a bottom-up mentality. Having grown enormously in terms of capacity. Working as a team on a five-year strategy for Iraq. Helping more than 30,000 people… A year in which… you know… I can continue to write but how can you process almost 1 year in 1 blog? This would be a story in a nutshell. So in short: a lot of nuts have been cracked!


When you go through a phase of intense stress and continuous change, there are also those moments when you withdraw from it all. Taking rest and reflecting on all of what happened is crucial. Such moments can even lead to new dreams… and for those who know us a bit, we do not like to keep it with only dreaming. We dare and do. And that has led to something new. News that may be a surprise to many of you (maybe we apologize again for our non-social behaviour). This news is the same reason to make a blog or vlog again soon because we might have stirred up the curiosity…

Are you ready? We will come back to the Netherlands from January for a longer period and to start up our own company. More information soon.

Willem & Wendy getting ready for a new adventure with Tearfund in Iraq

Willem & Wendy working with Tearfund - new adventure

Yes! The new adventure starts, you could read more about it a couple of weeks ago, but now we are really ready… First we had a lovely time with our direct family in the Netherlands and visiting our community Perspectief. And now, after almost two weeks of briefings at the headquarters of Tearfund in London, we leave tonight via Turkey to Iraq: our new home for the coming two years. We realise that this will be an immense challenge and undertaking, but we feel extremely relaxed, energetic and blessed by our ‘Papa’. We look forward to it.

There is a lot we want to share, but we cannot always share it. That is why some updates will be more general and will have no details. This is in regards to the safety of the programme, ourselves and our local colleagues. But we are able to tell a little bit more of what we will be doing.

Which adventure are we taking with Tearfund?

Tearfund works in different locations in Iraq where we bring aid to the returning refugees (returnees) who return to their former ‘homes’. We work with cash-programming (so that people can spend where most urgent), water & sanitation projects, psychosocial and peacebuilding programmes. More details will follow later, when we’ve seen it in action ourselves.

What will we be doing? 

Willem is Iraq response director. This is just as his former job in Nepal the same as Country Director: responsible for the programme in Iraq, the strategy, the security, and thousand and one more things. Fortunately he’s a star in delegating, so don’t worry :-).

Wendy is Grants & Information Coordinator. She will coordinate the grants of institutional donors (the biggest donor is currently OFDA/USAID). With this coordination she will be a spider in the web for collecting information, making reports and proposals and keep an eye on the timelines and she will also be involved in information coordination.


Getting to know Tearfund: 
Briefings at headquarters: 
Bags packed: 
Checked in: 
Ready for take off to our new adventure!

Want to know more about Iraq?

We can of course write a whole story about Iraq, but you can find quite some information online. For example on Wikipedia. 

Thanks for your support! We’ll write more soon…

Did you know that London has a lot more to it than the sight seeing of old buildings and monuments in the city? We have seen a whole different side this time: Richmond Park. This is also London:

Deer in Richmond Park in London - het begin van ons avontuur

Find the deer, there are quite some 🙂

Wendy in Richmond Park in London - het begin van ons nieuwe avontuur


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017 - by Willem and Wendy

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017 - by Willem and Wendy

Merry Christmas

For unto us a child is born
unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder
and his name shall be called wonderful Counselor
the mighty God, the everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

We are happy that we are able to celebrate the reason for the season back home this year with our beloved family. We will only be in the Netherlands for a very short time, so we won’t be meeting with lots of people, but we will give you an update soon as new developments are on the way! So stay tuned.

When we look back into 2017, lots has happened and we look back with thankfulness in our hearts. We have been able to contribute to a well running project in Nepal where earthquake resilient houses are being built. And Wendy has traveled to Afghanistan and Bangladesh to be a voice for the most vulnerable.

We also saw lots of suffering. And while suffering is hard to explain, we would love to speak with the words of C.S. Lewis: ‘God always hears the cry of suffering, God always sees the oppression of the weak and God demands we be a people who do the same.’

We believe that when we all reach out, when we all stand up and do what God asks from us, in our neighbourhood, to our friends and family or overseas, everyone in his/her place. What beautiful would this world look. Love in action.

We wish you a prosperous and joyful 2018.