Last day in Labenbachhof!

By Sidris 

Friday morning, goshhh…feeling really exhausted. The last day today. It has been a very intense but inspiring week. It was a privilege to be surrounded by all those wonderful people in Labenbachhof, Rupholding.   So…let’s get up and start. I heard that there was even a yoga session by Helga. For the first time this week I walked into the dining room as one of the first. Only Mike sat there, very relaxed enjoying his breakfast. Mike is the best first person to run into in the morning. His jolly and enthusiastic attitude is contagious. As always breakfast was wonderful, the fresh bread….hm hm hm Slowly the group walked in one by one and there is always, always something to talk about.

After breakfast everybody went on their way up to our hall and it was time to get to work. The facilitators for today were Katrin and Iman. To wake up and get energized after breakfast we did the wrestling exercise led by Niko. Pushing one another in a way not to run someone over but to find the balance between the two participants. It was a great way to wake up the body and mind. To turn our concentration switch on Lorraine took us to the next level of the rhythm exercise from yesterday. Steppin’, clappin’ and singing go back and forth not to forget the fun and laughter within this moment.

After this it was time to start working on the intellectual outputs. Writing down exercises, writing on the Thursday blog and some worked on the book. Rob, Akila and Helga were walking around to help where needed.

Mike enlightened the group with an excellent workshop ‘the Art of Facilitation’. It was really distinct and educational to learn about the differences between being a trainer and a facilitator.

Rob’s exercise The Cover Story was exiting. It was wonderful to see al the dreams and plans made for the future. The different ideas but basically all with the same outcome. The very reason we where all there to take part in this project of ‘Can do Empowerment’: with each other, world wide, making this world a better place for everyone to live in.

Inspiring were the compliments rounds ‘Why am I great’ (Loraine) for those who wanted to take part and writing an empowering postcard to one selves (Katrin). Personally I can’t wait to receive it in the mail.

Then the remaining administrative tasks, week evaluation on paper, reflecting round with the imaginary match burning, a group/team and individual photographs.

Closure of the week with a nonverbal communication exercise where one participant leaves the room. The others decide about one or more tasks for the volunteer to do. When the person comes back in the room the group has to guide the volunteer without speaking or facial expressions trough the task(s), by clapping hands loud and fast or slow and soft or even silence. Niko and Sidris volunteered. Niko had to pick up the pen and give it to Helga, Sidris had to pick up the pen, pick up the paper, write down chocolate, pick up the chocolate, walk out of the circle and around it.

So far the daily program. This Friday night an acquaintance named Yusuf and partner came in to perform improvisational theatre about reflection, hard work at the office, Rob’s homecoming after this week and a human puppet show.

And finally….like I said before, it was an inspiring but very intense week, there happened a lot, we did a lot, we said a lot, we felt a lot, we learned a lot.

So we closed off with a master blaster party where we danced like it was 1999!


This is Sidris from The Netherlands!

Hello, I am Sidris and I live in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. I have studied Design & Communications and after a long time jobhopping, I found my true passion in working with people on an empowerment level. To see people grow or being a part of this proces is such high privilege to experiece.

We are not living in a perfect world, we probably never will but we owe it to ourselves and to the future generations to keep trying.

I started my career at an advertisement agency but the fast life wasn’t what made my heart beat faster. So I went to work for the police at the immigration department. It was not my cup of tea either. I made a sidestep as a storemannager, hmmm….not me. Than I got the oppurtunity to work with mentally disabled people as a groupleader. Although the job was really heavy, mentally and fysically, I had never felt more satisfied in a job.

Sadly due to health issues I couldn’t continue in this type of work and I was offered a job at the National Agency against Race-discrimination. This organisation evolved, changed, reorganised and fused into RADAR/Art.1. (Antidiscrimination bureau and the Expertise Centre on Discrimination in the Netherlands)   The fight against racism and discrimination and exclusion is very important to me. I will never ever give up on this. We are not living in a perfect world, we probably never will but we owe it to ourselves and to the future generations to keep trying.

I have been working at RADAR/Art.1 for about 9 years now in various functions. At the moment I am the communication worker but I’m also still involved as a facilitator/trainer in different projects. That is where my hearts lies.

I love to read. My favorite writers are is Gabriel Garcia Marques, Paolo Coelho and Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I have two wonderfull sons. In the little sparetime I have left, I stand at the sideline of a soccerfield watching the youngest do his magic on the field. I love the game and so I could not resist the invitation to become a member of the youth board. I hope to deliver a contribution in evolving the club into a professional trainingacademy.

I believe empowerment is neccesary on so many different levels. For me empowerment is having the strengths and the gutts to grow…on a personal level as well as in society. Gaining power to make your own choises and follow the path you see for yourself and your enviroment. Empowered people can mobilise others around them, go out and realise social changes.

Troughout the years I’ve gathered an arsenal of experiences and excercises about empowerment. I would like to share all I have learned and learn from others as wel. I am a positive and down to earth person and I think I can contribute to the project not only with theories but also with me as a person. My philosophy for life is simple: ‘Tomorrow is another day’. To me it means that there is always a chance to start over, to change your mind or change your ways… or whatever it is you need to change in your life.

I am a satisfied person when at the end of a day, I can say ‘Today was a good day’  

This is Sarina from The Netherlands!

Hi, my name is Sarina Roelaarts and I live in Tilburg, in the south of the Netherlands. My grandparents come from the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), so I grew up with two cultures.

I think knowledge is empowerment as well. But for the empowerment of the world, that remains a big question for me. Where do we start!?

I’ve always had multiple interests. I think that’s because of my curiosity, but certainly because of my creativity. Photography is my passion. I got my first camera when I was eight. Eventually, I graduated as a Media Designer at St. Lucas in Boxtel.

Right now I’m applying for jobs, I’m volunteering for Radar and I work every now and then on my own photography projects.

In early 2014 an old friend approached me and asked me if I was interested in coaching on a Powerday, organized by Radar. He gave me a brief training and a few days later I had my first Powerday. The rest is history. I’ve been hooked ever since.

I try not to focus too much on all my concerns, but unfortunately the question: “Where is this world going to!?” comes every now and then through my head.

On my way I try to make a positive contribution. Whether I do that with coaching on a Powerday, or begin a discussion with somebody to broaden his and also my vision, or with my photography projects.

One of my photography projects is called ‘PASSION vs. health‘. It gives people more vision about that everybody is dealing with something. That the people you see as powerful are also just human. So with that knowledge you can stand next to that person and see yourself as powerful as them.

I think that is empowerment. It all begins with yourself. I think it’s important that we teach people more about the things they fear. I think knowledge is empowerment as well. But for the empowerment of the world, that remains a big question for me. Where do we start!?

I’m going to make this project as beautiful as possible with all the creativity that I have. I’m not trained as a social worker, but I can give you my knowledge that I’ve gained through experience.

I hope we will have more clarity that will move us more towards our goal. See you all soon!!


This is Aizhana from Austria!

Hi, my name is Aizhana Reyer, i was born in Kasachstan and came to Austria for study 16 years ago.

I give my best to support and strengthen mothers and fathers in their role.

I live in Graz and work at ZEBRA Intercultural Counselling Centre as coordinator for the project  “eltern.leben.Vielfalt” (english: aim of the project is to reach a different groups of parents such as parents with migration background, single mothers or fathers, patchwork families etc. for the development of new and low threshold models of parental education.

This work area is very new for me, because i’m interpreter and translator (Russian-Germany) by profession and worked 13 years as interpreter in the psychotherapy and other fields of community interpreting. And now… it’s time to relearn :-))

For me our meeting in Germany offer an ideal basis  to discover more about empowerment and anti-discrimination, because this are very important principles of my work with the parents. I give my best to support and strengthen mothers and fathers in their role. Especially for the mothers with migration background I try to give the power for self-determination. I think, this is empowerment.

What else? I have a little son and my hobbies are his hobbies: language courses, tennis, football, birthday-partys of his friends…

I am excited to meet you all in Germany!

This is Natalia from Spain!

Natalia Millan
Since I can remember I have always wondered about those parts in our personality and behavior that are not genetic, that are based on social influences and expectations.

Hi there! My name is Natalia and I am from Spain. I am 24 years old and though I have always lived in Madrid, I have family in Ireland and work there every summer. Also, during my studies of Psychology, I had the chance of spending a year abroad in Groningen, The Netherlands. That was indeed one of the most intense and enriching experiences in my life: it allowed me to meet people from many different backgrounds and experiences. I simply loved it there.

During my studies and up to this moment, I have been discovering the strength and magic in group dynamics thanks to the Methodology of Correcting Processes in the Community (ProCC) I work with (and I am willing to tell you more about! :D). With this Methodology, at my workplace (Centro Marie Langer), we practice communitary intervention around topics such as the process of breeding, growing up and gender, focused on the construction that society makes of concepts like “being a man” or “being a woman”. Lately we have been working with men about their role, and we all are still learning from these experiences.

Since I can remember I have always wondered about those parts in our personality and behavior that are not genetic, that are based on social influences and expectations.

It’s true that I don’t work explicitly with the word empowerment, but that is what we aim to do by making people more conscious about their reality, identity and role, together with transforming society, creating new alternatives and encouraging social participation.

Apart from my interest in social psychology I am also studying a master in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, always keeping in mind that we are social beings and developed in the links we form with others.

But not everything is work! I love music: I played piano and now I am learning guitar (not so good at it, so I won’t torture you with my abilities) and though I am not really into sports, I love hiking since I was a kid.

I am really looking forward to meet you all in Germany, to share knowledge, experiences, and learn with and from each other. See you there!

This is Lorraine from te UK!

2. Lorraine Prince Brighton
Equality, justice and compassion are threads running through my career and my personal philosophy.

Hello, my name is Lorraine and I am from the UK. I grew up in Manchester, lived in London for 12 years, and now live and work in Brighton at Brighton and Hove Community Works. . I am also involved in running Carnival Collective, a huge ensemble of 20-30 musicians (predominantly drums and percussion), who have existed since 1994. Social justice is very important to me and I have volunteered for local advice agencies and campaigning organisations. I am currently studying for a Masters in Public Administration part time.

For me, empowerment is about the availability of viable options, and involvement in decisions that affect individuals’ lives and communities. For me, the availability of information and support is essential for empowerment of individuals and communities. Equality, justice and compassion are threads running through my career and my personal philosophy. I am therefore always interested to share ideas about these principles with others. Mutual respect, willingness to engage meaningfully (including with uncomfortable issues), and shared vision and goals are the things I see as most important in understanding our differences and overcoming barriers and tensions.

I am looking forward to meeting colleagues from around Europe and the world to learn about their approaches and discover some new approaches, perspectives and insights to reflect on what learning there might be for me, my organisation, and more widely within my city and nationally. I am coming with an open mind!

This is Charo from Spain!


My name is Rosario and my nick name is Charo (this one is very dificult to pronounce so you can call me as you like). I am 48 years old and I have 2 sons. I live in the country side near Madrid. I like gardening, dancing, connecting with people and give massages. I was born in Madrid but I have lived in countries like Guatemala, Perú, Ecuador, England.

I am very interested in new empowerment methodologies and I believe is one of the keys to change the world!

I am a social psychologist and I have been always interested in Women´s rightsI work for the Town Hall of Madrid as an Equality Agent and I focus on gender issues.  I also consider myself a feminist

And I am very interested in new empowerment methodologies and I believe is one of the keys to change the world!

I am always happy to collaborate with Can do Empowerment! 

See you soon!

This is Nora from UK!

Hi there, my name is Nora and I was born and raised in the Netherlands. Although Dutch, my heritage lays in Morocco as both my parents are originally from Casablanca!

I’ve been living in the UK for over 14 years now after spending a year travelling around Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Bali. After a brief stint at American Express I landed a job in the Community and Voluntary Sector and haven’t left it since. I have a passion for anything to do with community development and tackling inequalities. At the moment I work with a music organisation which empowers and supports young people through music making opportunities! Previous roles I had were Development worker for an organisation called People Can where our main aim was to support community groups tackling inequalities through funding and development support. I also volunteer at our local Mosque, teaching young girls (age 12 and above) in a participatory way, discussing Islamic matters and matters that concern them within the wider community.

Having done the Religious Diversity Anti-Discrimination (RDAD) 5 day course in Lisbon back in 2012, I am looking forward to exploring the set up of the Can do Empowerment training and the opportunity to learn from each other about how we deal with empowerment in different ways!

Empowerment is a word that is used a lot these days but has a different meaning for different people. I like to think it’s encouraging people, communities, organisations etc. to make positive changes that benefit them and others in the long term.

In life I believe one thing will always be constant. The need for empowerment and tackling discrimination!

It’s important to have an open mind, to accept that your way might work for some but not for all, self-reflection and openness to learn and develop yourself.

In life I believe one thing will always be constant. The need for empowerment and tackling discrimination!

This is Arun from South Africa!

I am Arun Naicker from South Africa and I live in Durban where the sun shines in winter. My work at the Umtapo for the past 25 years is invigorating and empowering. I am an activist so it goes without saying that where there is injustice my antennas start to beeb!!!

Believe me I wasn’t born this way. At an early age I began to notice differences amongst people especially since most of my childhood and adult life has been during the apartheid era.

I have found the Paulo Freire methodology very empowering and a process for the emancipation of the mind. I also keep in mind that no education is ever neutral.

“We are the people we have been waiting for”

“Popular Education promotes constant analysis and critical reflection upon reality with the aim of enabling people to discover solutions to their own problems and set in motion concrete actions for the transformation of that reality”.

Empowerment for me is about people – both women and men – taking control over their lives setting their own agendas, gaining skills, building self-confidence, solving problems, and developing self-reliance. At the same time we must also include the voices of young people

Important to me is the whole notion of self-reliance the power to rely on one’s self, on one’s own resources and ideas, to become fully independent in every respect.

I love quiet time to just sit and be myself in nature with the balance of music, dance and the celebration of life.

“We are the people we have been waiting for”