Last week, Jean Pierre, the Manager from Amsterdam Meet Berlage contacted me about a great story inside his location. He was inspired by Loes le Blanc, 45, mother of 3, swimming the English Channel in a team of 4, to raise awareness about the Free a Girlproject. With such a great story we couldn’t miss knowing a bit more and share it with you.
Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Loes le Blanc, mother of 3, 45 years old. Located in Amsterdam, I am establishing a practice in Hypnotherapy and Integrative Psychotherapy serving the Dutch but also the English speaking community in the Netherlands. Currently in a research-startup to investigate the issues of domestic violence in the english speaking community in the Netherlands. I am in training to swim across the Channel between UK and France (July 2018) in a team of 4 for Free a Girl. With this action, I am combining my experiences as a therapist working with victims of domestic and sexual violence, my personal hobby and the good cause.
When did you come in touch with the Free a Girl project?
Of course Free a Girl has been in the news for quite some time. In Spring this year I met another mother, working for the organization Free a Girl. With her story, she touched me to the core. I had goosebumps of horror because of what she told me. Combined with my experiences in my own practice as a therapist, I really felt that this was the cause I was going to connect myself to.
What is the Free a Girl project?
Free a Girl is committed to rescuing young girls from prostitution in countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Brazil and… The Netherlands. The organization supports in shelter, trauma-counseling, medical care, schooling and reintegration of victims.
Although it is impossible to estimate the true extent of this issue, it is estimated that in India alone, 1,2 million (!) children are exploited for commercial sex, the majority being girls.
Free a Girl cooperates with Police and Justice Departments to bring traffickers to justice. Free a Girl organizes rescue actions. Rescue-teams gather evidence for child prostitution and organize invasions with the local Police.
The majority of children rescued is traumatized. Many of them have STD’s and some are HIV infected. In the Free a Girl shelters, they receive both medical and psychological care.
Girls rescued await a long journey towards a “regular” life. Free a Girl organizes schooling and supports them to build a life in freedom and autonomy.
How can people support the project?
There are 2 ways to support this project. First: spread the news that this is happening! That we as caring people and community distance ourselves from these practices. Let’s create a butterfly effect: If we all use our networks, we are perhaps able to reach the outskirts of this world. Perhaps we can reach out to the people directly involved….Use our network to let the world know we should not be doing this. And with “we”, I mean this generation being responsible for the children around us, for whom we are responsible. Become aware that we are not “children” or “employees”. We ARE the parents, we ARE the generation responsible, we ARE the managers/owners of business/people with the power to change the world. We together can create a butterfly effect. We have the power to reach every person on this planet and let them know the world does not like people poking around in the lives of innocent children (literally….). And perhaps we can reach out to all these children. To let them know we are here, that we are trying to reach out to them, to find them, to help them towards a life in safety and freedom. This project is not about money. This project is about a collective, worldwide disgust and an act of connecting to victims instead of speaking “about” them.
The other way is to support this project financially. Here’s the link: https://www.freeagirl.nl/adm_campaign/free-a-girl-channel-challenge/
If I may dream big: here’s an outline of my personal dream for the purpose of the money. Of course, Free a Girl as a professional organization is free to prioritize the projects they choose to fund. But if I may dream without limits: this is my ultimate goal:
It is commonly known and well researched that people with personal traumatic experiences are the best counselors to help others overcome theirs. Of course, you need professionally trained counselors to deal with the horrendous trauma these children have gone through. If we can raise a shipload of money, perhaps Free a Girl can start a programme to train those children -who choose for it- to become professional trauma-counselors themselves. This is what I call the butterfly effect. But for this dream to come true, we really need a shipload of money…. Free a Girl already organizes educational programs to give girls a chance to become lawyers, to prosecute those responsible for these crimes. Why not add a new professional career to the list of possibilities?
Next July you are swimming the English Channel, why are you doing this?
If you aren’t scared of your dreams: theý’re not big enough! To create a butterfly effect; see above.
There are many reasons, why I am undertaking this experience. First of all, I really would like to take a chance in a lifetime to change this world a bit. At least: do my very best to transform this world in a better place if only just a wheee-bit. As a child, I always dreamt of making a difference in this world. In this stage of my life, I am working on this dream in all ways possible. That’s why I became a Therapist, that’s why I am swimming the Channel, that’s why I am connecting myself to the cause of Free a Girl.
I will be completely open and honest about it: this project giving me back a lot as well! First: I am connecting with so many new, great, inspiring people only because of this project. My team, a whole bunch of new swimming-friends, new people I am meeting. For example Mark Koolen, the Photographer who created the marvelous film for Free a Girl. We didn’t know each other 4 weeks ago. And now: in the process of creating this film, we connected on a whole different level.
Second: as a Therapist, I am interested in transforming our inner worlds. Thoughts, beliefs, feelings, physiology, physics, the way we interact with others, the way we deal with adversity, our position in this world. I am my own study case. Not very scientific, but a learning transformative process it is! Being in the cold water with no wetsuit for a couple of hours certainly, triggers quite a lot of resistance in all aspects of myself as a human being. Quite interesting to investigate this from a “mindful” position from an internal supervision perspective. And to wonder and realize how I am growing more resilient, letting go of inner issues from the past. Resilience is what we all need to deal with the overwhelming issues we are dealing with: at least I am!
How are you preparing to do this?
Of course intensive training, 2-4 times a week. Swimming, fitness. Sunday, October 1st, we had a qualification test to enter the Channel Challenge experience. We had to swim for 2 hrs in water <16C, without a suit of course. For your information: the challenge for real is without wetsuit…. Being able to swim a significant distance is one thing: being able to deal with the cold is perhaps most challenging: you can’t control it! Furthermore: I practice quite some mindfulness. And for me: self-hypno is a step up the ladder in the meditation process. Being in open water helps me be creative in whole new perspectives of imagination!
How can people support you in your challenge?
Ask all questions you would like to ask. Through social media, but preferable in “real-time contact”. This project is not only about money for a good cause. This project is about a real connection with other people. Let’s start an open discussion about the topic of domestic and sexual violence. Let’s connect and break the taboos connected to this. That’s what YOU can do!
And of course: spread the donation-link and the news! Here’s the link: https://www.freeagirl.nl/adm_campaign/free-a-girl-channel-challenge/
Jori is a game tested in more than 700 people. It consists of profound and weird questions that have the power tos really connect people and escape the old ‘what do you do?’ and ‘where are you from’ script.
Who’s your idol? What are the things makes him/her/it your idol? Be specific.
Pink Floyd, Roger Waters. Pink Floyd’s tour “Break down the wall” offers so many metaphors for transformation. This music started an internal reflective journey within me, that ever since never stopped. Division Bell, Coming Back to Life, Lost for Words: I can go on forever. Dark Side of the Moon, the anger in “We don’t need no….”: I discovered I wasn’t alone in my darkest feelings. Pink Floyd gave words to the way I was feeling, I am only getting there myself in this phase of my life just now. Pink Floyd kicked against whole systems: that’s my story of a lifetime too and my Free a Girl Channel Challenge is an example of that.
If you could design a planet from scratch, what would it be like? Be really specific.
We would all be camping in nature. Grounded. Feeling. Slowing down. We would all have discovered that there is so much more than the rational, materialistic, right-side brain perspective on life. We would all have discovered that we humans employ two languages. One is ‘objective, cerebral, logical and analytic, the language of reason, of science, of explanation and interpretation’ (conscious). The other (subconscious) is creative, the language of imagery, of metaphor, of symbols, and of synthesis & totality or ‘pars pro toto’, that is, the immediate recognition or understanding of the whole based on one essential detail. It is the use of this hypnotic, non-linear, creative, language which brings about the most effective personal change in thinking and behavior.
“Connection” would be the central theme in life on my planet. We would all connect to nature and each other, skipping all material shit that we now believe is important. And yet again: there would be an internet but on a whole different level! We would not send “messages” through “avatars”… We would send “ourselves” to the outskirts of the world to connect with others. For me: walking around the other side of the ocean wouldn’t be an issue: I would just beam myself there! This would enable me to connect real-time with many other people I cannot reach directly in my current life. And yes: I would still be swimming the ocean. Because it is not the destination that counts: it’s the journey!