SOS Children's Villages

4 May 2015

Willemijn van Benthem

Graduated HTH in 1997

PR manager / press officer at SOS Kinderdorpen

Advice: If you like what you are doing, you are going to do it well.

I learnt all these things mentioned by my colleagues but what really affected me was the very practical side of everything. That you get into action and you get things done. That is also visible at SOS Children’s Villages. We are all practical and motivated people, but we are also creative. When you say creative people you don’t usually think of people that graduated from the Hotelschool but in fact, there are a lot of creative people at HTH. With creativity you think in solutions and those solutions can be applied to everything. After HTH I worked as a Journalist, and it is great to be able to use all the different experiences, from the media and from the Hotelschool, for such a good cause: children around the world who are alone and need a family.


Monica van der Meeren

Graduated HTH in 1993

Managing the team for the major donors and corporate relations.

Advice: Invest in your relations and keep up with them. Make sure to keep in touch.

I think many things you learn at the Hotelschool will help you in your career. Especially working with a lot of different people from different backgrounds. That is something I really value from my period at Hotelschool The Hague. I worked with a Dutch children’s daycare organization. It is wonderful to use my experience in the profit sector in a non-profit, but professional organization such as SOS Children’s Villages


Astrid Lambregtsen

Graduated HTH in 2000

Fundraiser in the Acquisition department

Advice: At the Hotelschool, You are told that you are the best of the best. But there is a world after Hotelschool The Hague. So make sure you are prepared for it.

What I learned at Hotelschool is that I can recognize people from the Hotelschool everywhere. It shows in their behaviour and it is easy to relate to them. They give you a warm welcome and are quite hands on as well. It’s easy to do the strategic thinking part but Hotelschool taught us how to carry out plans and get things done.

I had the Simon Sinek oriented training and they kept asking me, “what was my ‘why?’ in life?”
And my why was that I wanted to help people. Making a better world starts with helping and giving love to one child. This one child is going to spread that love to their children. And that’s why SOS Kinderdorpen is sustainable organization


Sandra Sahusilawani

Graduated HTH in 1993

Global philanthropy advisor

Advice: I would say that Hotelschool students in general are very result orientated and they always want to climb the ladder. I think that everyone reaches a point in their career and they are on top of the stairs and they contemplate to whether they should climb another ladder or look for fun. Or they ask themselves, “do I look for something that will impact lives in another way?” In the end you want to be proud of what you achieved and it’s not only with monetary value. Climbing up the corporate ladder is great, it’s definitely a great ride. But make sure to stay close to what you like and where you’d like to invest your time. Step back and make sure you know where you are going. Ask yourself, is this going to fulfil my dreams?

What I think is important at my job and what I learnt at Hotelschool is that you relate to all kinds of people. With my job I talk to a lot of influential people but at the same time also with the SOS staff in the field. And making the connection between different levels and showing that they are all part of the overall mission is something you learn at the Hotelschool.

Before SOS Kinderdorpen I worked in the financial sector for 15 years. I’ve reached this point in my career where I have done certain things and I made a certain about of money but I was wondering what my next step was. I felt that my social responsibility was neglected. So I was trying to find ways to volunteer or do things that would help others. So then I found this job, where they needed someone who was used to talking to others about money and liked to work with people.

I used to work with a lot of people that wanted to use their luck to make more money, and now I work with people that want to spend their money to improve other people’s luck. That is a different position to work from and to actually see what that money does is very fulfilling.


SOS Kinderdorpen

SOS Kinderdorpen is a practical NGO, we don’t just talk the talk but we also walk the walk. I guess that’s what you see when you are in the field. You see someone working day and night to make someone else’s life better, in a loving way. The way that they actually do it, fits our way of working very much. We are actually caring for children, we aren’t just talking about it. We are also doing it in a local way with respect to all cultures. I think that is what makes SOS such a unique and multinational organization.

At SOS we have a more holistic approach we don’t go somewhere and just give food, water and vaccinations and leave. We really feel that we have to let go when it’s possible, instead of going when the programme ends. Children leave our care when they are ready. Very similar to a child growing up in a stereotypical family.

What we do is all child rights based. We look at the general rights of children; they need to have a family, they need to have a home, they need to have good health care, and they need to have an education. We take these things into consideration and we see what is lacking in the situation and how we can support a family in order for them to take good care of the children. If parents lack parenting skills then we teach them those skills. If children don’t have parents, we try to find other forms of care for them and one of them is finding them a SOS family in a SOS Village. Once they are there, that is their family and they stay with their SOS family until they are ready to leave.

There used to be an age where a company would raise money or have social budgets to spend on projects. A hotel would have a budget and they would donate that budget to an SOS Village in Chad to build a new house. That was great and it was very simple. Trends now are that these companies don’t only want to give money, they also want to have employee engagement so that they can improve their HR policies. As more young people are aware and willing to do social projects, I challenge big hotel chains not only to be giving through their donations but also to try and find ways to help children and youth in upcoming markets. There are a lot of skills there that can be used to help these less fortunate groups who are trying to find their way.


Career in non-profit sector

The non-profit sector in the Netherlands is relatively small. And there are a lot of people making the career change from profit to non-profit organizations. They are seemingly a little arrogant and say, “they have such great skills, they must need me.” And they knock on our doors and say that we need to hire them because they can do this and that. It’s not easy to get into the non-profit sector if you want to. It is quite challenging to get hired. I always advise people to show through their actions how much you are worth to these NGO’s. I always tell them to take up a project, do some voluntary work, show them how much you are capable of and that you are willing to help.


About SOS Children’s Villages

For more than 65 years SOS Children Villages creates stable loving families for orphaned and abandoned children. We believe that family is the best basis for a healthy development of children. It is the way that they can grow up into healthy, independent and strong adults. We are raising 80,000 children in over 500 villages across 133 countries, through our outreach programs we impact the lives of over 1 million people each year. - For more information, look at