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Every day, people flee from violence and oppression. Some of them come to the Netherlands, where they are admitted to one of the country’s reception centers (AZCs). One out of every three refugees seeking asylum in the Netherlands is younger than eighteen. These young refugees often have a history that includes disturbing experiences. They have had to leave their familiar lives and environments behind. Though the stay in an AZC is intended to be temporary, children sometimes spend a significant portion of their childhood in one.

Stichting De Vrolijkheid (Dutch Foundation for the Promotion of Happiness) organizes creative activities for these children in every AZC. Dance, theater, music, and art are the tools with which children tell their stories, develop self-confidence and talent, and just plain be kids for a while. The foundation works closely with theater groups, orchestras, museums, companies, and schools. De Vrolijkheid staff members travel the country with story tents where parents and children can tell stories; they organize photo projects in which the world is captured from different perspectives; and they build ideal homes, castles, and art dioramas based on the children’s dreams for the future.

Stichting De Vrolijkheid also aspires to bring Dutch citizens in contact with children and young adults in AZCs, so they can learn from one another. Adessium Foundation is supporting Stichting de Vrolijkheid as part of our desire to provide more humane shelter to children and young adults in AZCs and to increase awareness of their situation throughout Dutch society.

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