Celebrating volunteers at The Hague International Centre: Rawia

Rawia Liverpool

Celebrating volunteers at The Hague International Centre: Rawia

This week, we celebrate 10 years of connecting internationals to The Hague region. This would not have been possible without the support of so many! Especially our volunteers, who help internationals at the Centre daily. Thank you for your contribution!

We met with Rawia, Project Manager at ACCESS, who manages a team of 15 volunteers at The Hague International Centre. Next to this, she has her own coaching practice ‘Recipes 4 Change’. She is a mother to two daughters and has been living in the Netherlands for 21 years. Read on for an in-depth view of volunteering at the Centre.

ACCESS is an in-house service provider and valuable partner at The Hague International Centre.


How did you come to join ACCESS? 

When I just arrived in the Netherlands, my neighbour told me about ACCESS and the support they offer to internationals. It was only later that I finally joined ACCESS. I enjoy sharing experiences about life in the Netherlands with internationals and guiding them. Offering guidance is similar to what I do at my own coaching practice. It is nice to connect with an organisation that thinks and works the same way.


What do you get out of volunteering at the Centre?

Since I have been living here for many years, I could share my experience on life in the Netherlands with other internationals. At the same time, dealing with questions from internationals has helped me develop my knowledge on other things, for example, about municipal work and IND. And sometimes, when I help internationals with their questions, I discover new information about life in the Netherlands as well.

Also, when I joined, I was learning Dutch and I wanted to improve my Dutch skills. It was great to be able to work alongside my Dutch colleagues at the Centre and practice with them.


What does your day at The Hague International Centre look like? 

My job is to welcome the people who come to the Centre and help them with the questions they have. I also refer visitors with an appointment to the right registration officer.

Before the coronavirus crisis, people could walk in at any time with their questions. For now, we concentrate on the clients who have an appointment and support other internationals by answering their questions via phone or email.


Who are the people you meet every day at the Centre?

Mostly families. But we also have employees, people looking for a job, and students contact us at the Centre. We even had tourists coming in because they thought we were the tourist office!


Which part of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

What stays with me in every situation is the gratitude that people feel. Sometimes people are truly troubled – I’ve had people cry at the desk. Some are dealing with personal issues and they could feel very emotional. In those situations, we are there to listen to them and to offer support, which is what touches me the most. You can make a difference in someone’s life and make it a little easier for them by providing the guidance they need. To me, that is a wonderful thing.


Thank you Rawia for sharing your story!


Find out more about what we are doing for our 10-year anniversary.

Visit ACCESS-nl to find out more about volunteering.


Photo credit: Vinita Salomé