Out with the old, in with the new

Farewell blog by ICDI Director Mathijs Euwema

After almost 15 years my journey with ICDI comes to an end. From 1st of June 2021 I will start as team manager with the child protection agency in the North of the Netherlands, where I originate from and always wanted to go back home to. A big change in my work- and personal life. I am looking forward to this new adventure, but the goodbye from ICDI is bittersweet, as I will leave behind an organization that has grown very dear to my heart.

Somebody drew my attention in 2006 to an advert for a programme manager with an organization that I had never heard of before: International Child Development Initiatives. A very long name for -what turned out to be- a very small organization.

Although I was looking for a new job at the time, I did not pay too much attention and only sent in my CV with no motivation letter at all (something which, if somebody did it with me, would immediately mean a rejection!). A couple of weeks later, I had already kind of forgotten that I applied, I received an invite for an interview. It was only at that point that I really started to read more about ICDI and the job and realized very quickly that it was actually a great opportunity. I accepted the invitation eagerly and still wrote a motivation letter and send some articles I had written. The interviews went fine and whilst I was in Sierra Leone for my previous job Nico van Oudenhoven, ICDI founder and then director, called me to let me know they had chosen me. Funnily enough I had at that moment another job lined up, so I had to make a decision “on the snap”. I followed my gut feeling, chose ICDI and never regretted it since. ICDI turned out to be a great place, with really nice, dedicated and interesting people, with a lot of room for own initiative.

The office itself was also a treat: situated in the beautiful, albeit slightly derelict orphanage from the 16th century, it was inspirational in itself (and of course, after the full restoration that took place in 2009, it became even more inspirational). After half a year, obviously impressed with my performance :), Nico asked me to become director of ICDI. A role I happily accepted, although it was also daunting to step into his mighty footsteps.

In the years that followed, during which I also had the good fortune to meet my wife Aliya and start a family, I had the pleasure of working with fantastic people all over the world, doing many small and big projects for children in need. I visited beautiful -and sometimes not so beautiful- places, and got to learn much about different cultures and topics facing young people everywhere. One of the most amazing things about ICDI is (and I hope it will continue to be), that it never was a single issue organization. We covered a range of child development related issues and problems, which enabled the rest of the team and me to grow professionally and as human beings in the most profound ways. And man, did we have fun along the way!

15 years of ICDI, my longest work stint so far. It will always stay with me and I hope a little bit of me will stay with ICDI. There are so many stories I can tell, so many experiences engraved in my memory. I want to thank everybody that made this journey such a rollercoaster joyride. First and foremost my colleagues at ICDI of course (I won’t name you, you all know who I mean!), but also all the other people I had the pleasure of getting to know along the way: you are all pretty damn special, I hope you never forget that. I succeeded Nico and he is now succeeding me again, with this I am sure ICDI is in for another exciting trip. May it go on for a long time to come.