• Scholing and vocational training for under priviliged children

  • Widening their world view

  • Increasing self awareness


In general, we develop friendships with people whom we are close to, with people who are like us. That is a natural process. At Friendshifts, children establish contact with children of the same age who, at first glance, are very different. They wear different clothes, eat other kinds of food, talk differently, dress differently. Little by little they discover that there are also a lot of similarities. They realize that despite the differences they can be friends. Enter: friend-shifts.

“I want to be the best pupil in my class. And I also want my

brother Atsuo to be the best student in our class.

We believe that education and vocational training are solutions to poverty. With a certificate of diploma, the chances to a steady employment and stable income increase. This way children create a better future for themselves and their families.

Studying demands a different self-awareness. Is it reasonable to study if my parents haven’t even finished primary school? Or if my 15-year-old sister gets married and leaves school? Do I have the courage to develop a personal ambition? It is important for children to start regarding themselves as people with talents, motivation and personal ambitions, who look for and take opportunities.


In order to develop this self-awareness, we bring the children into contact with pupils in Europe. These contacts have a positive effect on both parties. The children feel seen, are proud that they can communicate with someone at the other end of the world. Especially for orphans, this is a healing experience. The exchanges stimulate children to reflect on themselves and their ambitions. Some aspects of life are better here, and others are better at the friend’s place. Equality develops this way.

The children can write letters, make drawings and artwork. If the technology allows, they can even shoot a video or talk on Skype. Subjects of conversation can be: “What is your day like?” “How do I live?” “What am I proud of?” “What are my dreams for the future?” As a result of these discussions, children discover that they have quite a lot in common.

Decorated Christmas trees from Togo and from France. 

With our actions we contribute to most of the Millennium Goals. The first one is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The families of children in the orphanages in Togo and India are too poor to take care of them. Of course, we contribute to the second goal: primary education for everybody. By offering education to girls, they become more autonomous (financially) and this contributes to the third goal of gender equality and empowering women. Indirectly we contribute to the 5th goal, improving maternal health as we sponsor the medicine study of Emilie Awadi. She wants to specialize as a gynecologist. The 7th goal of environmental sustainability is addressed in the discovery box. Finally, the 8th goal is the reason of our being: to develop global partnership for development. We are in the process of developing partnerships with schools and NGOs in The Netherlands, France, Germany, UK, USA and Japan. And we are developing partnerships with NGOs in India, Togo, Myanmar, Jordan and maybe Surinam. These NGO partners will eventually also exchange better practices. At this level there can be a lot of mutual learning as well.


For the practical support of the pupils we work together with fantastic local partners in Togo and Myanmar.

CAST (Centre d’Action Social au Togo) takes care of 40 orphans in their center in Kpalimé. Another 450 poor children get support. CAST pays for their tuition fees and school supplies, also offering social and psychological support. You can find more information here: http://cas-togo.org/

In Myanmar we work with association World Child Care. They take care of 400 underprivileged children who live at the compound of PDO high school in Mandalay.  The association pays for school supplies, uniforms, toiletries, healthy food and also invests in teacher salaries, vocational training. 150 children participate in an English & Life Skill Program. More information https://www.worldchildcare.org/


In schools in Europe and locally at the NGOs we give different kinds of courses. The objective is to create an understanding of the local contexts as well as enlarging tolerance concerning differences.

  1. Introduction: Explanation of the country, the partner organization, Freindshifts and what we are going to do together.
  2. Discovery boxes: With 10 objects of daily life the children discover the other culture. They can handle the objects and read an explanation. With the help of 5 questions they reflect on the subject.
  3. Specific courses: On special habits, religion and education.
  4. Peaceable School: A project where the lessons that are learned can be applied in an interview session with children in Togo.
Hi pupils

Would you like to talk to girls from India? Or with a boy from Togo? Would you like to know how they live? What sports they like? What kind of job they want to do when they grow up?

We from Friendshifts help children to learn from each other through contacts. We propose fun and interesting lessons for your school so you can start.

Click & meet children

Click & see games

Click & discover colouring pictures


The children in Dutch and French schools are very enthusiastic after their contacts and want to support their new friends financially. Every school finds a different way to raise funds. We also receive gifts from people from our entourage who are touched by the stories of these underprivileged children.

With the funds we buy supplies to create educational material. Furthermore, we sponsor school fees and school supplies for children like small Etse Bassel, Abra Satwi (deaf) or the teenager Lydia Kpassa. Emilie Awadi is a smart young woman who studies medicine and has the ambition to become a gynaecologist. We pay for here school fees and transportation. Furthermore, we sponsor excursions to visit companies or government offices for them to become acquainted with different jobs.

All funds raised are entirely transferred to the partner organization. Logistical costs, materials and travel are paid for by professional activities of Marieke (as consultant in Customer Delight). By the end of 2020 we want to present our results to companies and ask them to become partners.

Poster made by school drop-outs.

We thank our business partners

“Love money” is a donation from family and friends to cover costs of a startup. We are very happy with the love money from Het Relatie Atelier in Driebergen (The Netherlands). Tijn and Iris Verhoeven know the power and value of communication and relationships. They believe in developing contacts (relationships) between children all over the world, the way we do. We use the money to cover part of our operational costs. Furthermore Tijn is an human resources specialist and advices us on recruitment of volunteers. You can find more information on: https://www.hetrelatieatelier.nl/

We are very happy to start our partnership with Amorph Systems (Germany). As no one, the team of Amorph Systems is aware of the benefits of IT skills for any youngster; in the western world as well as in Sub Saharan Africa, Asia or other poor regions. Thanks to their support we have started courses for underprivileged children to acquire basic IT skills. The courses will help them acquire knowledge, facilitate further studies, and enable them to participate in the digital world.

Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lsNi_oTAZo

More information on Amorph Systems: https://amorphsys.com/

Mendix is a Siemens business with headquarters at Rotterdam and Boston. Their tag line is “Go and make it”. In January we were selected as one of three good causes employees could donate money to. The generous donation of Mendix will be used to construct a school for hearing impaired children in Togo. With education, they too, can go and make it.

More information on Mendix: https://www.mendix.com/


When Marieke was 5 years old, she saw a famine in Africa on the TV news. She decided she would go and help underprivileged children once grown up. She studied anthropology, worked in the corporate world, and sometimes as a volunteer. At 50 she joined a group of friends to develop the activities above. In January 2020 she founded the association Friendshifts in order to develop a worldwide network to maximize impact.

Everybody is welcome in our association, no matter their gender, colour, religion, race etc.  We exist for everybody.

No one in the board receives any salary or compensation for their activities for Friendshifts.


Marieke van der Laan is the president and treasurer of the organization. As an anthropologist she is very interested in other cultures. Her experience as a trainer and consultant help to carry out the tasks of the association. They make her very happy.

Herodote was supported by CAST. He obtained his MBA degree in the USA and now works as Office Operations Supervisor for the USA Census Bureau. His enthusiasm, personal history and his knowledge make him a valuable member of the committee.

Hendrik is general member of the committee. He has a lot of professional experience abroad. He worked as a water and environmental engineer. For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs he evaluated projects of vocational training in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. He is very motivated to contribute to Friendshifts.

Marjan van Ham is secretary of Friendshifts. Marjan travelled in Asia and Africa and felt great affection towards the children there. She is a teacher and coordinator in a business school. Her enthusiasm and her practical approach are very valuable for the board.

Thérèse is a medical director in an insurance company and works as a family physician specialized in infants. She is pleased to advise on care for children.


In order to contribute to a better future for underprivileged children you can either:

  • Pitch in for costs of educational material (school uniforms, educational games, books) Choose your amount ____________
  • Contribute 25€ for study costs for teenagers like Abra Satwi (school for deaf) or of Emilie Awadi (medicine). 25€ or ___________
  • Pay monthly for school supplies and medical costs of 1 child in Togo or in Myanmar. You will receive news and letters from the child 3 times a year. (30€ per month).

You can wire the money on bank account NL 45 TRIO 0788 9245 75 in the name of Stichting Friendshifts. Please specify your chosen goal. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

We hold an ANBI license. All donations can be deducted from Dutch taxes.


It would be a pleasure to get into contact with you. Maybe we can see each other at school. You can also write at mvdl@friendshifts.org or fill in the contact form below.

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