Netherlands 3 June: Den Haag - Amsterdam
Mayors, politicians and Torch Bearer Awards
Our morning began with a visit to the IVIO school in Den Haag. This was our first school visit in Netherlands.
He himself happens to be a good runner. Currently he is training for the famous Ropa Run, which is a relay run from Rotterdam to Paris.
We gave him a letter of greeting from Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and he kindly gave us a message for the President which we will deliver in late October.
Continuing our action-packed day we dropped in at a neighbourhood youth program in Amsterdam entitled Connect.
There we met with rabbi Lody van de Kamp (right) and youth worker Said Bensellam (middle), who are doing great work to bring the jewish and islamic communities closer together.
Connect was founded by Said Bensellam to help ensure young men of Morrocan descent in the neighbourhood had a positive place to grow up and serve their community.
On this location a painful incident took place, that sparked the beginning of Said's and Lody's cooperation. A few years ago a young boy insulted rabbi Lody here by making the nazi salute. Rabbi Lody and Said then decided to take action and have an open talk with the ill-informed youth that changed him for the better.
Since then they've done much to improve the relations between jews and muslims, and their open-minded approach has been very succesfull. For that reason we honoured both of them with the Torch Bearer Award.
Rabbi Lody got his one first, because he couldn't be at the official ceremony later tonight. He literally beamed with joy and gave a warm-hearted and spontaneous acceptance speech that touched us all deeply.
This final event for today was dedicated to two extraordinary individuals who have dedicated their lives in a spirit of service.
Namana introduced our first recipient, Nicolien de Kroon, who for more than 18 years single-handedly organized the transportation of over 200,000 boxes of humanitarian aid to warstricken areas.
Her motivation was to give the children in those areas new hope and joy, and so she often sent stuffed animals to children in places like Bosnia, Irak, Chechenia, Kurdistan, India, and many others.
Then finally Said Bensellam received his Torch Bearer Award for his great work to give young streetkids a purpose and a bright perspective on their future.
In a bizarre coincidence it turned out that Nicolien and Said knew each other from the past when Nicolien was a youth worker in Amsterdam and the young Said was one of the children she worked with. Said was a bit of a troublemaker in his youth, and his mission is to help the youngsters who are struggling with the same problems he faced when growing up.