• Widening their world view

  • Education is a children’s right.

All children have the right to quality education

Our mission is to  support underprivileged children to create a better future for themselves through education.  According to the UN convention on the rights of the child, every child has the right to education, which helps them to fully develop their abilities, personality and talents. We believe that primary, secondary education and vocational training are key. With a certificate or a diploma, the chances of landing a stable job with a stable income increases dramatically. This way children create a better future for themselves and their future  families.

We also focus on a dozen other rights of the child, such as the rights of children with disabilities, social and economic assistance in crises, the right to access information via the Internet and other sources, the right to exchange ideas.

Supporting and guiding as many diverse, underprivileged children and youth to financial independency as possible is our vision.

At all levels (children, donors, teachers, volunteers and partners) personal attention is key for us. We focus on empowering all children and the local partners we work with and we chose our actions as to have maximum impact. These are our corporate values.


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.


For underprivileged children, studying asks for 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 individuals with unique talents, motivation and personal ambitions, who look for and take opportunities.  In order to develop this self-awareness, we developed the Learning Together program. We establish contacts between children from Togo, Myanmar and Jordan and pupils in Europe and the USA. These contacts have a positive effect on both parties. The children feel acknowledged, are proud they can communicate with someone at the other end of the world. 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. Equivalence 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 Zoom. Subjects of conversation can be: “What is your day like?”,  “What am I proud of?” “What are my dreams for the future?” As a result of these discussions, children discover they have a lot in common.

Decorated Christmas trees from Togo and from France. 


The United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Our actions contribute to several SDGs. Starting with the last one, the 17th goal: to develop global partnership for development. This is our strategy. We developed partnerships with schools and NGOs in The Netherlands, France, USA, and Sweden.  And we are developing partnerships with NGOs in Togo, Myanmar, Jordan and two more countries in the future. These NGO partners exchange best practices.

The Learning Together project adds to understanding of differences which leads to tolerance. Tolerance addresses goal 16: peace and justice.

With the construction of the school for hearing impaired children in Togo we contribute to the 10th goal: reduce inequalities.

Of course, we contribute to the fourth goal: quality education for everybody. We make sure that the majority of the children we sponsor are girls. By offering education to girls, they become more autonomous (financially) and this contributes to the fifth goal of gender equality and empowering women. It also contributes to goal 8: decent work and economic growth. When boys and girls learn a  job, obtain a degree, chances of landing a stable job are much higher.

And all this ultimately ends up to goal 1: eradicate poverty. 


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

CAST (Centre d’Action Social au Togo) takes care of 40 orphans in their center in Kpalimé. When the children reach the age of 12 they will live in a foster family. Being part of family live helps them to create a family once they grow up. Another 530 poor children get support. CAST pays for their tuition fees and school supplies, also offering social and psychological support. For some children they fund medical treatments. 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 Jordan we work with I Learn. The NGO assists at-risk children and youth to bridge a gap caused by the socio-economic and educational challenges and helps to address the weaknesses in underserved communities. They work with children and youth in 7 communities throughout the country. Youth is trained to enter the job market and children get  classes on life skills, language, arts and digital literacy. The objective for children is to motivate and inspire them to (continue) follow education.

In October we will start with 50 children who will be creating cards and shoot to a 2.5 minute video to show their daily life to the pen pal. You can get more information here: https://ilearnjo.com/

The Wilde Ganzen Foundation is a Dutch NGO, founded in 1957 with a mission to reduce poverty and inequality through community-led initiatives. They support community-based organizations in the Global South and their Dutch fundraising partners in joint efforts to achieve a better future. They believe that communities should have control over their own development.

The Wilde Ganzen Foundation uses more than 65 years of operational experience in international development to promote responsible philanthropy. They support social changemakers that are taking on initiatives to fight inequality. They do so through grantmaking, in-depth technical assistance, education, expertise and our on-the-ground networks for the construction of the school for hearing impaired in Togo.


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

  1. Introduction project: Explanation of the country, the partner organization, Friendshifts and what we are doing 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, children rights and education.
  4. Peaceable School: A project where the lessons that are learned can be applied in an interview session with children in Togo, Myanmar or Jordan.
Hi pupils

Would you like to talk to girls from Myanmar? Or with a boy from Togo? Or children in Jordan? 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


With the funds we sponsor school fees and school supplies for children like small Etse Bassel, Abra Satwi (deaf) or the teenager Hnin Hnin Shwe. Emilie Awadi is a smart young woman who studies medicine. We pay for her school fees and transportation. For more than 20 children we paid for ID cards and national official documents to be able to participate in exams. 

We funded laptops and telephones for local partners to guarantee smooth communication and cooperation.

With a large donation from Mendix, we are financing the construction of two classrooms for deaf children in Togo.

Funds from Amorph Systems are used to pay for installation of fiber optics and computer courses. In addition to the basics on the computer, the participants discover Wikipedia, tutorials on You Tube, Google translate and Google maps. They learn to learn.

All funds of schools and private donors are 100% transferred to the partner organization. Logistical costs, materials and travel are paid for personally by Marieke for the first 3 years.  We are looking for corporate partners  which agree to use 10% of the donation for operational costs.

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, also for you.

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.

Mail us