There are thousands of people without valid residence permits live in Rotterdam. They are informally known as ‘illegals’, but are officially called ‘the undocumented’. This undocumented status means that they have no right to work, no right to government assistance, and, until recently, not even to basic services such as the BBB system (Bed, Bath, and Bread Arrangement).

This is a vulnerable group that is uncertain about their existence in the present and the future. These people have been through much since arriving in the Netherlands, in addition to their journey and their history in their homelands. The women in this group are particularly vulnerable; they are females, foreigners, without rights, and often have a small, unreliable network (if any). This increases the chance of exploitation, such as into prostitution or other unsafe work situations.

The vision of the project is to create a Safe Haven for these undocumented women. A Christian environment open to women from all backgrounds providing a physically and emotionally safe place where there is room to unwind, and where women can develop and work towards a hopeful future.

This starts with a physical building of stone, with a roof, warmth, and food. But this is not enough. What is also needed is an emotionally safe place where these women can work towards their future, in the Netherlands or elsewhere. Essentially, four Bs are needed: Bed, Bath, Bread & Begeleiding (guidance). Safe Haven will offer this guidance inside and outside. 

The purpose of Safe Haven is to form a warm, loving community, where people eat and share life together. It will be a mosaic of team members and women of the target group. The starting point is a small house with a homey atmosphere and space for about 4-6 people. In the future we might see housing of various sizes and degrees of independence.

The four objectives that Safe Haven focuses on are: 

  1. Safety: To provide a safe and stable living environment.
  2. Trust: To help each occupant restore confidence in self, in others, and perhaps in God.
  3. Flourish: To help each occupant recover their identity and develop character and skills.
  4. Hope: To offer a residence at Safe Haven for up to a year and help in steps towards independence in a hopeful future

The key elements here are relationships and connectedness, appropriate to the cultural background of the occupants. A detailed description of the development of these objectives can be requested.

Initiator

The initiator is iTeams NL worker Marije Companjen. She has a passion for the city of Rotterdam and its inhabitants. For two years she has been focused on working with the undocumented, particularly women. The source is compassionate love for this vulnerable group in the society.

For the past six years, Crossroads Rotterdam has been Marije’s church home. There she is actively involved with Womanhood, a community with a goal to help women flourish.

Interested in joining the team?

Do you share a passion for this project, or a compassion for these women? If so, please consider joining efforts on one of the above areas. Or can you picture yourself as part of the Safe Haven community? A detailed description of the project or a presentation can be requested.

Financial Partnership

The project is seeking to raise financial support in these areas:

  • Safe Haven building project
  • ministry set up costs
  • ongoing project costs
  • team support
  • you can download a brochure about the project here (available only in Dutch)

For financial support

If you would like to financially partner with Safe Haven you can give to the following account with iTeams NL:

NL88 RABO 0123 1970 07, in the name of Iteams, with the note VW-SH 
BIC: RABONL2U

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