• Larry’s Blog

New year, new goals

With each year brings a new opportunity and new hope for better things to come. Many people make new year resolutions that they hope will make them better during the year ahead and beyond.
It is always good to take a look at where you’re at before determining where you want to go.

Let me first however extend a very happy new year to each and every one with best wishes of all good things.

In doing so I wish to also give special thanks to Nick Kemps our former coordinator. As he moves on to bigger and better things we thank him for his hard work and committed during the past few years. It would be remiss of me if I also did not extend the same to Dirk Postma who also will be moving on to other things. These two dedicated individuals have contributed significantly to the Asiel group.

So with that out of the way let’s take a look at 2017.

2017 at a glance

2017 saw a packed year of fun and activities hosted by our group. Month after month we welcomed scores of new members to our meetings. The numbers kept on growing throughout 2017 and we are pleased to have hosted so many migrants.

In a world where members of the LGBT community still feel unsafe our meetings serves as the spot for all to feel safe and “let their hair down”.

Nothing is more frightening than having to face a world and admitting that you are gay.

There is a constant situation that I face since moving to the Nederland’s. That is being open and saying the words “I am gay”

Now you have to understand if you have lived all your life in a country where being gay is illegal you are conditioned to hide. You live a lie daily. Hiding from friends and family who you really are. So imagine now in a new country no friends or family but you have to first tell if you being gay. First to the authorities (IND) then to COA and it does not stop there. You are sometimes called upon to tell your story over and over again for many different reasons. I suppose it gets better in time but the beginning is no walk in the park.

At our monthly meetings we sort to provide individuals with a platform to be able to prepare themselves. Prepare themselves for telling others whether really are. To say those words…(I am….and I am gay).

To achieve this over several months in 2017 we hosted workshops in acting, telling stories, sharing emotions thought different avenues. Those workshops culminated in a 5 day workshop at the NHL Hoogschool in Leeuwarden. Several participants attended each day and at the end were awarded certificates.

During the past year we also hosted several focus groups. Those groups were led by our very own Dirk Postma over a three month period. The sessions saw members discussing the very issues I raised earlier as well as helped participants focus on their new lives here in Nederland. What they hoped to achieve and how they planned to achieve those things. At the end we were able to make a map of these and from it we were able to assess what other migrants need were and how we as a group can assist.

In August 2017 we also joined with the lgbt community in celebrating Canal Pride in Amsterdam. Scores of migrants were given the opportunity to partake in these festivities. For many attending the canal pride celebrations was like a dream or a movie. For many including me there was never a time in our life when you could be part of let alone see hundreds and thousands of lgbt person take to the streets freely being themselves dressing how they want and living there truths. It was a moment when many felt empowered. There were those who at the start of the day still felt withdrawn, but by the end of the day and after the experience gave new hope and courage.

As the year came to an end the asiel group joined with the other arms of the COC to have Christmas dinner. This has become an annual event that any look forward to.

All in all when we look at what we have done and achieved in 2017 it was a great year. A year that set the tone for 2018. And let me assure you this year will be even better.

Changes within COC Asiel group

Already for the New Year we have so much to share.

It is important that I also share some administration changes with you. They are as follows.

Our new administration are as follows:

Aladdin Roboam Hall –Coordinator

Larry van Dever – Coordinator

Dirk Postma – Assisting Coordinator


Yining Chen – Assisting Coordinator

Deyone Milana Guiseppi – Assisting Coordinator

Habibatu sulieman – Volunteer

Gabriel uyi omoregie – Volunteer

In closing I also wish to advise that the meetings dates for the next few months have been set and are as follows:


March 3

April 7

May 5

June 2


These meetings will take place at our lovely venue Humanitas (Akerkhof 22) Groningen from 13:00-17:00.

As always we would love to hear from you so feel free to contact us at asiel@cocgd.nl

You can also read Larry’s previous blogs of March 2017 here and December 2016 here.