From the very first visit, Willemijn was convinced of the benefits of this approach for young survivors of conflict. The Balkan Wars had disastrous effects on children. They were withdrawn, scared and distrustful. The musical workshops brought the child inside of them back.
In order to support these activities, Willemijn started organising fundraising events in the Netherlands, with great success. War Child Holland was then, in 1995, officially founded; a small organisation with a handful of volunteers.
1996 -1999: War Child organises creative workshops in refugee camps and social centres for refugee and street children in Sudan. War Child starts a psychosocial programme for refugee children in Ingushetia, and supports a girls’ school for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
From the very beginning, many companies and private donors were attracted to War Child because of the nature of our work: creative psychosocial activities for children in areas affected by conflict. As support for our work grew, we were able to increase the number of activities and add to the number of programme countries. In addition to psychosocial support, education and child protection became key thematic areas in War Child’s projects.
2000: War Child’s projects are up and running in 12 countries including Sierra Leone and Kosovo. Projects in Sudan are expanded to the south (now South Sudan). In 2002 War Child is asked by UNICEF to support former child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
In 2007, Mark Vogt succeeded Willemijn as War Child's director. During a two-year transition period, Willemijn stayed on as part of the management board before stepping down as War Child's director. In 2011 she became a member of the Supervisory Board. After Mark’s successful five-year tenure, Bernard Uyttendaele took over the director’s position. Bernard is co-founder of War Child’s Business Ambassador Network.
Per September 1st 2015, Tjipke Bergsma succeeded Uyttendale as the director of War Child. Bergsma has worked in both African and South-American countries, and has directed the Dutch department of Plan. In the past couple of years, Tjipke was deputy CEO and Regional Director Americas of Plan International. He has worked at War Child before as the Director of Programmes.
2011: War Child is able to increase the number of children benefitting from our projects in 11 conflict-affected areas, reaching 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million are children and young people. Still, children in Afghanistan, DRC, Gaza and many more countries experience conflict on a daily basis.
War Child has been honoured with the following awards:
- 2006, 2007 and 2010: Transparency Award, PricewaterhouseCoopers;
- 2008: Freedom from Fear Award, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute;
- 2012: Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize, Dutch Carnegie Foundation.
Countries and disputed territories where we have previously worked
Abkhazia, Albania, Bosnia, Eritrea, Georgia, Ingushetia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Chechnya