‘Coincidentally’ becoming friends

For six months now, Welkom in Utrecht-volunteer Atieh (28) from Iran has been organizing children’s activities at the asylum center with a group of volunteers from all over the world. They got along so well that they have now become a group of friends. “It was one of those magical moments in life where you see how everyone and everything is connected in one way or another”, that’s how Atieh describes the origin of this group. And indeed, what a coincidence… Atieh had been living in Utrecht with her husband for a while. During a concert she met another Iranian woman who was a volunteer at WiU. When they walked outside they met Rebecca from Welkom in Utrecht. Atieh and Rebecca exchanged telephone numbers and a month later Atieh was volunteering at WiU as well.
Atieh loves to organize children’s activities at the azc. Under the wings of Welkom in Utrecht, she set up what is now Atieh’s Children’s Club. Every two weeks, volunteers play games with children from the asylum seekers’ center; playing football, drawing, painting and much more.
The volunteers joined this group through Welkom in Utrecht, but also through contacts of Atieh and her husband Payam. Volunteer Roy (34), born in the Netherlands, knew Payam from university. Volunteer Nour (24), from Syria, was already familiar with Welkom in Utrecht from activities he had participated in while he was in the asylum seekers’ center himself. One of these was the Marhaban buddy project of University College Utrecht. There he met Dutch Sara, who was again friends with… Atieh and Payam. And that’s how we suddenly saw Nour again in the azc, this time as a volunteer at Atieh’s Kinderclub. Awesome!

Meanwhile, British Bea (24) had signed up as a volunteer via the WiU website. Bea is very fond of children, so she also wanted to participate at the Children’s Club.
And these are just three of the more than 20 volunteers who help at Atieh’s Children’s Club. The volunteers come from all over the world and are a very diverse group. What they do have in common is that they want to work for refugees, and they just get along so well. “It clicked from the first time,” says Atieh.
Since then, the volunteers have also seen each other outside the Children’s Club, before the Corona crisis they went rowing together, played games and chatted and ate together during a potluck organized by Welkom in Utrecht especially for this group. “I was new to Utrecht and didn’t really know anyone apart from the peers on my course. I made such “amazing” friends through the Kids’ Club. It makes me feel much more at home here”, says Bea. Dutch Roy is happy he met the people from this ‘nice and diverse group’, and so is Nour. “Fortunately, we still see each other in this Corona time”, he adds.
We at Welkom in Utrecht love to see these kinds of spontaneous connections. It is exactly what we strive for, although you never know whether or how it will happen. “Magic” is indeed sometimes the right word.