This is Lavern from The Netherlands!

Hi! My name is Lavern and I am from the Netherlands. Both of my parents were born and raised in Surinam (a not so small country in South-America, between Guyana and French Guyana and above Brazil), I was born and raised in Amsterdam and have been living in Rotterdam now for about 4 years! At the moment I am still a student, ready to graduate. I study Culturele Maatschappelijke Vorming. It is social work, but in the Netherlands you choose different sides of social work. My education focusses on non-formal education.

Other than being “just a student”, I also started volunteering for a young LGBT-organization in Rotterdam a few years ago. It’s called The Hang-Out 010 and it is located in Rotterdam. I was involved In organizing a lot of activities and because of my study, I wanted to know more about the organization itself. A while ago I was asked to be on the board, so now I am also a board member!
Within this organization I learned a lot about this community, and I keep on learning new this almost every day. Right now I am working on a photo exhibition about labeling and it opens at Rotterdam Pride this year!

Lavern photo

I know Can Do from RADAR. I was an intern there for a year and my internship just ended in July. I choose RADAR because of the work they do and I wanted to help in fight discrimination and racism. Throughout this year we did a lot of activities to empower people. I love making people aware of things and to let them think about their own actions and how they are part of a system.

Empowerment for me is making somebody feel good about themselves. I believe that you have to empower yourself first, before you can empower somebody else. Being able to achieve things as an individual is great, but to empower more people and to achieve things as a group is even greater.
It is also about being a rebel. Taking back power, to change the normative world, to change the structures, to change to systems, to think outside of your own comfort zone, to be done with labels, to just live your life the way you want without all these labels we constructed.

This is Shirley from The Netherlands!

I am Shirley Cicilson. I’m from the Netherlands, I am an entrepreneur. My hobbies are: write poet, like to read, like to take a walk nearby the water or in the park and watching sports.

I like to bound and empower people, because only then you can build bridges. My philosophy is, that ‘I do not know not to exist’.

My expectations about the Can? Do! Empowerment project are meeting, share, pooling power, with others so that we can achieve our ambitions

Self-knowledge gives your understanding of who you are, what you can do and how to achieve your dreams and ambitions.

Empowerment is crucial for personal branding of each individual, so it helps to develop a positive mind-set and self-image.

While working in and with empowerment you have to take people seriously.

No matter what!

 photo shirley

This is Anna from The Netherlands!

Hello everybody,
my name is Anna and I’ve lived in Rotterdam for the last whole year and worked as volunteer for the antidisciminationbureau RADAR. I did this as voluntary service-year which is over since the end of august (so like this week) and I’m really happy it is not completely over yet but I’m able to join the RADAR delegation at the training of Can? Do!
I was born 19 years ago in the beautiful German city Bremen and have lived there until I moved to Rotterdam one year ago and I will be living there again as my year in Rotterdam has ended. I’m about to start studying Political Sciences and Communication and Media at the university there and hope to carry on some things I’ve got to know and learned about while working for RADAR next to this.
I am a convinced feminist and since a few years try to actively engage in political struggles to work on a society which includes and appreciates everybody the way he*she is and a political system that supports the road towards this society.
I’m really curious to get to know you all and to get to know the project a bit better as I’ve until now only heard about it from others and not experienced the aims and methods of Can?Do! myself. I’m also curious to get to know what I can contribute myself as I don’t have decades of experience with training or so but I´m sure another perspective and my points of view will be an interesting addition in some way. I’m sure it will be very interesting to hear from different methods and also different struggles concerning the topic of empowerment from different countries and organisations ad I hope to gain quite some inspiration for further thinking and activities!
Anna Fischer (RADAR)
To me empowerment has a lot to do with structures of society and the ways to break them up. Unfortunately society and the political system tend to favour those who have saved their privileges since centuries and there are stereotypes, clichés, traditions and sometimes even laws that help to keep this status quo. Empowerment means to me to stand up to this normality, accept youself and demand others to do the same (accept you the way you are) and to stop hiding. This can happen at a very small scale as sharing a part of onself, an experience or an opinion with people which one would usually try to hide in one’s class/at work but could also mean to organise with others and be as loud and strong as you can be to reach as many people as possible.
I think it is really important to support people at empowerment because it is not ’normal’ to stand up for oneself and to create a world where it is, there still needs some work to be done and doing it together makes us stronger and more able to exchange the different expercience and enrich us mutually. One thing that for me is important while working on this topic is not only to focus on individuals doing their thing for themselves but see the social background of problems and possibilities to connect and unite in the struggle for improvements.

This is Juan from Spain!

Hi there!

This is Juan de la Mata from Madrid and I am 27 years old. Although I live in the capital nowadays, during my childhood I lived in different cities around Spain like León, Salamanca, Avila and Jaén. I studied Philosophy and Psychology, one of the years in Antwerp, Belgium, as part of the Erasmus program. At present I combine work and college, working as a waiter in different hotels in the city. I like good O.V. cinema, literature, original theatre and singer-songwriter music.

I am also into tai chi and meditation as I practiced it for a couple of years. I think it is important to relax and chill out in these hurried times we live in. So, what a better way of doing it than clearing your mind to the rhythm of something like this? :

Now, it is my professional training that brings me to Brighton. I would like to become a humanist therapist and the community work is part of the process. That is why I am taking the master on ProCC methodology in Centro Marie Langer. This education will help me to work with groups, helping people achieve autonomy and social prominence. From my own moving experiences I learnt there is a need to fight discrimination. Empowerment is a good way to do it, it fosters people to get involved in community activities and raise their social prominence. At the same time empowerment let erase discriminative barriers in the long term, though as Einstein once said: <<it’s more difficult to disintegrate a prejudice than an atom>>. Besides, I believe the former objectives play a role in what it is called ‘empowerment’. To my mind, empowerment means making people aware of their actual power to change their lives. And this            applies not only to the individual field but also to the socio-communitarian one. So I think empowerment is also relevant in the public health sphere.

So, my main expectation for the meeting in Brighton is learning, as a trainee psychologist, new group methodologies to work with. In the future, I would like to apply them in my professional activities; either with groups, families or individuals.

Last but no least I am sure you will all enrich me with your professional and personal knowledge; I heard some of you have been working for 20 years in the social field so I am looking forward to meet you! 😀

Spain 2011, image from 15-M, social movement that meant a change in the socio-political panorama. Thousands of people gathered around and camped in La Puerta del Sol for days demanding transparency in politics and legal process for corrupt politicians. As a consequence the socialist government of that time fell down and elections were called.


This is Laura from Spain!

Hi everybody!

My name is Laura. I’m 37 years old and I’m from Spain. My husband and I have two kids, and I can certainly say without a doubt that they are the best thing we’ve ever done. They are 6 and 3 years old, so I have just started the game 🙂

I work with migrant women with low resources at social risk of exclusion. I feel lucky because it gives me the opportunity to support them and learn from them too.

What I like most is to spend time with my friends and family around the table, having breakfast or dinner and having a good conversation. I love travelling and meeting new people, learning about their culture and eating food from other countries.

My friends describe me as an open minded, outgoing and sweet person. I love listening to other people’s stories and lives so I’m sure I’ll enjoy our meeting in Brighton very much.

It’s been a looooong time since the last time I had to speak, think and work in English so I apologize for my mistakes. I’m glad I’ll brush my English up and learn from you all.

If I had to explain my mission in life, I would say that I came here to help others to be happy. How do I do it? I work as a psycologist in a non profit association called Progestión. I work with migrant women with low resources at social risk of exclusion. I feel lucky because it gives me the opportunity to support them and learn from them too. Not only they are strong, resilient, smart but most of them have a very positive outlook on life. I provide psychological support in order to enhance their self-steem and their personal resources so they can be ready to face life challenges. I also encourage them to participate in public spaces so they can feel and act as full citizens because that´s what they are. I encourage them to develop a positive attitude in life.

I want to share a video that I found on the Internet with all of you. It’s just one of the millions of stories we can find in our countries, next to us, very close to us. I hope you like it.

About empowerment…

My interest in empowerment is based on the belief of the power of empowered people and how those people can change their lives and even community life. I believe they can be role models to other people and spread their attitude. There’s no greater feeling to me like feeling empowered, so I love to help others to feel it too and make the changes they need to be happy.

When my partners and I enhance other women’s empowerment, they become more self-reliant and self-confident. They believe in themselves and they are ready to participate in public spaces such as NGOs as volunteers, political parties, or any other community activity they like.

What is important when working with empowerment and antidiscrimination is to be a good listener, point out all the achievements the person has reached, believe in people’s kindness and change of being, and that there’s always a new starting point.


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!