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Young Colfield partners with People for People sending one of their bright, young trainees, Esther Donk, to work as a project manager for three months. Read more about Esther’s impact filled experience and why she believes other organizations should offer their employees volunteer opportunities at People for People.

After finishing a Masters degree at Lund University, Esther Donk had the skills, smarts and determination to take on the professional world and make an impact. The only problem was, she didn’t know exactly where she wanted to start. 

To figure that out, she joined Young Colfield, an organization that guides young professionals in their personal development through coaching sessions and 3-4 traineeship placements over the course of two years, with the aim to develop professional (self) awareness. 

Through the organization, Esther completed a five-month stint at the Dutch Ministry of Defence and an eight-month position as a management consultant at banking behemoth ABN AMRO. Looking to change things up after her experiences in large, corporate environments, Esther put in a request for a traineeship at a non-proft. That’s how she got started as a project manager at People for People.

“At Young Colfield we believe that the best way to bring about a positive change is by creating professional self-awareness. We want to bring our talents to our community of partners. We encourage them to spread this way of looking at work by providing them with different experiences, which is why we partnered up with People for People. We are fortunate to be able to deploy our talents on a regular basis for causes we believe in, without sending an invoice. The commitment to People for People gives our talents the opportunity to step out of their bubble, which we believe is super important when it comes to self-awareness. We get a lot of energy from discovering equal, inspiring collaboration, as we do with the People for People partnership.” 

Onno Sijbrandij, Young Colfield

Last week, as we drove down the highway in the P4P Rolling Aid van to a shelter in Baarn, Esther shared some insights into these past three months. 

The amazing thing about this experience for her was being able to make a direct impact. As project manager, she’s delivered 70 pairs of shoes to unaccompanied minors, organized a winter clothing pop up store for residents of a crisis center in Spier, and arranged and delivered Sinterklaas presents and baby food for children in Beekbergen. 

When you’re working in a large corporation, things naturally move slower, she confided. You have levels of higher ups who you need an approval from. While her past experiences were great in different ways, Esther was glad to really roll up her sleeves, take charge, and get things done. 

One of the biggest surprises was the major impact this short experience has had on her now and will continue to have in the future. 

“It’s quite shocking, even though I knew that life as an asylum seeker in the Netherlands and in a lot of other countries is difficult. We’re striving to make it better for them, but living in a tent for—who knows how long, is disheartening. It also makes you reflect on what you find important in life.”

Esther recounted meeting one woman around her age with a cute baby at one of the shelters. The woman was extremely grateful for the donations she received, but when Esther asked her what she wanted most right now, it was basic things like a winter jacket and baby food. 

“There’s just a really big difference between their needs and ours at the moment, but I think creating these rolling aid events where we can make that difference a bit smaller is really what’s needed.” 

She’s also had the opportunity to meet a lot of very inspiring people along the way, like Jorine, location manager at the emergency shelter for asylum seekers in Beekbergen. She’s been very active, not only, in helping to provide the basics the residents need, but also in experimenting with new programs, like a shop run entirely by residents, cycling lessons for the kids, and future ideas for yoga and art sessions. 

“What stood out for me is that Jorine has so much will power to make this location work. I think that’s very hopeful, but at the same time, it makes me a bit sad because the handling of a location really depends on the location manager. I know that COA has a shortage of personnel, so not every location has a Jorine.” 

People for People is now striving to provide support to the 8,500 shelters across the Netherlands and location managers, like Jorine, who are, against the difficult odds, willing to experiment and take on bold new initiatives to support residents on a deeper level. 

“What I’m often telling people is that, on one side, I see very positive things, even though the situation isn’t perfect, there are actually a lot of nice initiatives happening, but it’s not enough.” 

We need more dedicated and inspiring volunteers like Esther to help make a difference. We’re so grateful to Young Colfield for creating this partnership with our organization and putting us in touch with the talented young minds in their program who are helping us spread our impact.

“One of the main goals at Young Colfield for the upcoming years is to make a greater social and environmental impact. We also want to create more partnerships with “vision soulmates” as they call it. The vision of Young Colfield aligns perfectly with the vision of People for People and that is how the collaboration was born!”

Young Colfield

We are people coming together

If you or your organization are ready to help make a major, direct impact in the lives of thousands of asylum seekers across the Netherlands, contact People for People at to find out more about our volunteer program. Alternatively, if you’re looking for talented professionals, like Esther, who can bring great ideas to your team, contact Young Colfield at