Are the recurring questions in your life: Who am I? What do I want? and: How can I be meaningful in my life?
I’ve asked those questions numerous times. As a child, I was a conformist. It was my desire to matter, but my lack of self-confidence stopped me. That’s why I wanted to make a career and prove that I really mattered. I worked at corporate companies amongst others Visa Card Services, Telfort, Deloitte and Getronics. I spend my evenings studying business administration and got a bachelor's degree. Alongside I was trained as coach, including NLP.
At one point, it looked I was very successful, being married, nice apartment in Amsterdam, wearing fancy clothes and high heels, but I felt a deep inner void. I was living another people’s expectation and all I want was to be seen and acknowledged. Slowly this undermined my energy and joy of life. For a long time, I ran away from this, afraid to choose for myself and step out of my comfort zone.
In 2005, I started my own business 4xD: Enterprising is all about Dreaming, Thinking, Daring and above all Doing it. I coached others in following their dream and was hard faced with myself. 4xD was a wonderful concept, but it was not a dream that was motivated by a deep desire.
One day a coach asked me:
‘What did you want to become when you were seven years old?’
I started to laugh. "I wanted to be Florence Nightingale in Sub Sahara Africa".
Shortly after, I stopped my practice and left for Kenya. I was deeply impressed by the country and especially by the women, their resilience and energy, despite the challenges they face on daily bases. They are not victims of the circumstances.
I wanted to contribute and discovered girls and young women are not going to school during their menstruation, as the means they’re using are leaking and the pads we all know are too expensive. My inner flame was ignited.
We started to develop washable sanitary pads and established a factory. We produced and distributed washable sanitary towels, called I-Care pads, for girls in disadvantaged areas. I led the company with fiery passion and had 20 women employed.
Unfortunately, in 2016 I had to close the business. At that time, I thought I had failed and felt a loser. However, this experience taught her a valuable lesson:
“Every failure or setback is a learning point and steppingstone to the next destination. Having courage to face your fears and being open to learn from challenges is the difference between succeeding and getting stuck.”
Did I fail? No. I had the courage to follow my dream and with I-Care we reached more than 55.000 girls and young women. This simple product meant freedom for them.
My life path was bumpy and painful, with many lows and highlights, lessons and breakthroughs. It’s my burning desire to ‘be the voice of the voiceless’ and let the voices of the girls and women be heard through storytelling and my book 'On high heels in Africa'. We’ll continue with I-Care, but differently.
It’s my mission to share my lessons, inspire and encourage women to take matters into their own hand and to have the courage to stand up for who they are.
Courage is the red thread throughout my story. In Dutch courage is LEF and in Hebrew LEV means heart, together they are an invincible combination and the lighter of the inner fire. With that people can make powerful choices from the heart and act. Without guts no glory.