Amazing blog: Invisible People

Wow, I was doing a bit of blog hopping when I found a video containing the story of a homeless man in Chicago. the video linked to an account on YouTube that had a link to their site

The site is set up by a cameraman who has been homeless himself too and he felt the need to do something. as he tells it on his about page

The purpose of this vlog is to make the invisible visible. I hope these people and their stories connect with you and don’t let go. I hope their conversations with me will start a conversation in your circle of friends.

After you get to know someone by watching their story, please pause for a few moments and write your thoughts in the comments section, or maybe email them to a friend and link back to this vlog . By keeping this dialog open we can help a forgotten people.

I would like to share with you the video of Bobby, this is the video that have led me to this site

The video comes with a page on the site which you can find here


The most amazing man in my life

No this isn’t about my father or my foster dad. It isn’t about my brothers or Ghandi or Jezus. This is about a man I met about 22/25 years ago, I don’t even know when precise but it is at least 22 and at most 25 years. Without this person my life would have been very different and many of the things I have done would not have been possible if he hadn’t been around. This is the story of Willem

I met Willem somewhere in the early 90’s in the homeless shelters in Utrecht after I came back there following my unfortunate times in Arnhem. I am not sure what triggered our initial friendship but he belonged to the group of people I chose to hang out with.

Bunkbeds, Sleep Inn shelter Utrecht

Willem made money playing the Djembe at Hoog Catharijne (a for Dutch standards large shopping mall and main train station of the Netherlands) and when weather permitted on the city hall square. As a big supporter of anything that has to do with music in general and drums in particular this drew my attention and I decided that this was something I wanted as well.

A djembe called Ilse van Kampen

As luck would have it I had a form of social security through a special project and the first possibility I got I bought myself a Djembe as well. Willem was so kind to show me some basic rhythms and it was not long after that I joined him on a regular basis on the station and squares, banging my drum making some hard needed extra money. Of course not everybody at the station/mall was happy with that especially since we often got joined by other musicians with Djembe’s, Didgeridoo’s and other instruments however money was made, shared and spend and life was good.

Then came a time that playing in Utrecht (or rather earnings in Utrecht) went down. I guess the public by now knew our play and grew a bit weary of it. Then one day Willem asked me if I felt like going to Scheveningen with him to play there on the boulevard along the beach. I was the proud owner of a small dome tent at the time and since I was feeling adventures I agreed to do so.

When we arrived in Scheveningen (a suburban area of the Hague) we started playing on the boulevard to make some money. After all you won’t survive without food and drink and in our case we wouldn’t survive without the much liked greens (no not dollars, the Dutch greens of course). Playing went fine, money came in and we had our food and smoke covered after a few hours. The video below is the two of us together with some friends playing on the Djembe and Didgeridoo (not in Scheveningen. I have no footage of that unfortunately)

So it was time to eat and near the beach and boulevard we soon discovered a snack bar (as chips shops are called here) that looked like a good place to fill our bellies. We made a lot of great decision during our time in Scheveningen but the choice for this snack bar (called “pyramid”) has probably been the best decision we made out there.

Pyramid was owned by an Iranian guy with the name Maroes, he wa married to a Dutch red head and although a Muslim he made the best pork belly I have ever eaten. Now don’t confuse the Dutch pork belly with any pork belly from whatever country. Here the pork belly is not sold as a big chunk of meat but rather as slices of about 1 cm thick and they are called Speklap (lard cutlett)

Pork belly – Speklapjes

After we had ordered our meals we went outside to wait for it to be ready when the owner came and asked us what we carried in those big duffel bags we carried around. When we mentioned that we carried Djembe’s around the man went nuts (in a positive way) and asked us to play something. When we asked if other customers wouldn’t mind he grinned and told us to play regardless of what others thought. And so we where playing and eating and having a good time until it was time to find a place to sleep.

Normally in the Netherlands, if you have a tent you sleep on a camp ground but we figured that camp grounds could cost a lot of money and if we would take the trouble to walk a few miles outside town we should have no trouble finding a place somewhere in the dunes to set up camp and so we did. After about 30 minutes walking through the dunes we found a huge stair going down to the beach with a nice spot near the dune side of the beach and we decided that this would be the place where we would camp during our time in Scheveningen. We quickly made camp and went into our sleeping bags for a good night of sleep only to be given the biggest surprise of our life when we woke up the next morning and discovered we had set up camp on the nude beach!!!!

After a good laugh we broke up camp for that day, went up the stairs towards the dunes and decided that carrying all our gear during the day was way to much work and so we dropped the tent and bag packs behind some bushes hoping they would still be there if we would get back in the evening.(In looking back a stupid move of course but to our surprise it has worked very well during the whole time we where there.) We hung our duffel bags with Djembe on our back, went into Scheveningen to first find ourselves a coffee shop for the much needed smoke and after that was sorted we went back to the boulevard and beach to play and make money.

This was one of the hottest summers in the history of my country so the beaches where full every day and most days we made a decent amount of money followed by a meal at Pyramid, coffee shop, walk to camp ground, setting up camp and go to sleep.

We met a lot of strange, funny, kind and happy people and as it goes in life also a few naggers, idiots and nut cases. One of the stories we still talk about till this day is about an old man that heard us play at Pyramid (we “had” to play every time we went there and we went there every time). He was drunk of his ass and kept repeating “you guys pl better than the Papuans in New Guinea and I can know that cause I have been there” followed by a slap with his hand to his forehead while shouting “BEER”. He even went as far as sitting on the ground straight in front of us, listening with wide open eyes occasionally slapping his head shouting “BEER”

not same man,

Then one day playing went great but money didn’t come. I don’t know why but we had played almost until our hands where bleeding and had made maybe 5 guilders (about 2 euros) and we where almost to the point that we thought about selling the Bongo’s (two small drums side by side) when a man came out of the Casino that is near the beach. He walked up to Willem with his hand reached out for a handshake and when he shaked he said “So, you guys have a good day as well” and walked off. Willem opened his hand and we noticed he had slipped a 50 guilder bill in there. Needless to say we didn’t sell the small drum set, went to Pyramid to eat and after that to the coffee shop.

When we came out of the shop later that evening because it closed for the day, we decided to roll one for the road and we sat down in a sheltered bus stop. Since I am the fastest joint roller on the planet it came down to me to make one. and I was busy doing just that when right in front of us, maybe 10 feet away, lightning struck. I swear, I haven’t moved a muscle but still I went up from my seat in the air at least a good 10 cm (while remaining in the same seated position as I was already in) and when I looked down the paper, tobacco and greens on there where vanished in thin air. It was not to be found on the bench, on the ground or any other place… it vanished…poof. At the same time the heavens opened up and a rain like in the days of Noah came down. We have waited there for a while and when the flood ended a bit we made our way to our camp site to sleep.

Of course many things have happened in Scheveningen and if I would list them all you would be reading till next week so let me just say that until this day I regard those weeks as the best vacation I have ever had.

Of course one day it was time to go back to Utrecht which is kind of funny when you think we are still talking about two homeless dudes however Utrecht was “home” so back we went. Of course during those weeks Willem and I had become even better friends then before and at least for me “friend” started to change in “bro”

I regard everyone able to become my friend but to become my bro… that is a different matter. When I call you bro I mean it. Bro for me is not something lightly said to just anyone like you see so often. I call you how I see you, simple as that.

Now bro is a very smart individual and besides being smart he has a big heart, empathy, kindness, generosity and a certain joie de vivre. (unfortunately he can be hard headed, stubborn and cranky as well…. still love ya bro) and he had started with some of his other friends with a plan to start a “union for the homeless in Utrecht” (for Dutch reader the UBD or Utrechtse Bond van Daklozen) and me… always in for something new, together with another friend thought “well you do that and then we join you with a youth division”( de UBDJ -Utrechtse Bond voor Dakloze Jongeren). Unfortunately bro had teamed up with the “wrong friends” and they went behind his back with their own project which has a story told here and here . I got involved, even asked for the “board of directors” but it took I think a good 2 years before bro finally got involved as well. During this time we had little contact especially since I was planning to move to Israel after I worked a few years at the shelter.

Israel… or there and back again 😉

When I returned from Israel I went back to the shelter and worked there again for a few months until I met my wife, strangely enough I got sacked (on false grounds) the same day Lijda and I got a relation and a new period of little contact followed.

It was a few years after that that bro started a foundation himself called Stichting Straat Advocaat (the streetlaywer foundation) basically fulfilling his dream of a union for the homeless and I decided to go and see if I could be of any help. Well that was a simple yes. Since I am very computer savvy I quickly became the one maintaining all the computer systems. well, to be honest it was someone elses job but they kind of sucked at it 😉 I have done that until a few weeks before the foundation got killed of by the city council due to them refusing to help fund it and some backstabbing from some of his “colleagues” however that was imo not my most important contribution.

A side project of this foundation was “Amoras”. Amoras was a meal project with the object of providing a good meal 3 times a week for the homeless and anyone needing it….. free of charge. The name is taken from a comic called Suske en Wiske: op het eiland Amoras (Willy and Wanda on Amoras Island) by Willy Vandersteen. In this story it is about an island where two groups of people live. the thins and the fatso’s. basically it is about food. Besides that, if you read the name backwards it is Saroma which is a popular dessert around here. During the running time of this project bro (who had a cooking education) was the head chef, I was his sous chef and a few of our friends where the chopping crew.

During the lifespan of Amoras we have served thousands of meals in the sleep inn (another night shelter that kindly let us use their kitchen and main room) and I think we where the most poplar “restaurant” among the homeless and poor. This project has unfortunately also been killed off by the city council in favor of a christian organization that had it’s “own money”.

In between the NOIZ and Amoras I got married and bro I asked bro to be my best man. He kindly agreed to this and I hope I will one day be able to repay this favor. After all during his work for the streetlaywer foundation he met a woman online that over the years became the love of his life. I take a little credit for them meeting since he met her on a poker site I installed for him on his pc 😉

For some reason a lot of his friends abandoned him after the streetlaywer adventure but bro and me got only more close. Besides Djembe he learned to play the didgeridoo and we have played many times together. either the two of us or with some friends as you can see in next video.

Our relation together has evolved over the years to that of “two brothers from another mother. I visit him at least 3 times a week and we will play some shooters or Dynasty warriors (a hack and slash game) or I am just playing alone when he is chatting with Eileen, his lady from across the pond who has become a very dear and special friend to me and Lijda as well. We but mainly he had the pleasure of her coming to holland in 2012 and bro has had the pleasure of visiting her in the USA. I still hope bro will take the next step simply because I want to see him happy and together with the love of life. Of course that is not up to me and I guess everyone will understand that this is not a simple task if you both live 5000 miles apart.

This amazing man is my bro, my friend and my point of sanity in tis mad world, I wish everybody had a friend like I have my bro and I will love him (platonic)  for the rest of my life.

Bro, this one is for you, may we be friends till the universe collapses.

from left to right: Eileen, Willem and Lijda during the departure of Eileen back to the U.S of A

Every Day Heroes part 1: Alanya

Every Day Hero maart 2014


I know Alanya for many years now and although contact has faded away over the last years I still consider her an every day hero.


I met Alanya (in that time going by another (Dutch) name) when I was homeless just as she was. At that time she was hanging out with a group of people within the homeless community that was overlapping the group that I was hanging out and through mutual friends we got in contact with each other. I must admit that the moment I saw her I got a little crush on her and it was not difficult to become friends with her. (It too some time but I eventually told her about my crush which she appreciated but didn’t return)

During that time, which was one of the best periods in my street life, this group of about 10 people was supporting each other on the streets, we camped together on a camping ground, went to the nearby lake to swim or to the park to relax etc.

Then the time came that the N.O.I.Z was founded and she played a big part in that. She was the one that opened the door of the squatted building, she was one of the people talking to the city council, she arranged a lot inside the shelter and eventually she became a manager for the N.O.I.Z as well. Not a small feat for a girl who was taken from her country (Peru) and adopted at 9 months old and homeless since the age of 15.

(following part is taken from )

Back to Peru

With the foundation of NoiZ, Alanya regained control of her own life. Early 2000 Alanya heard about a “roots trip”. This trip offered adopted adolescents in the Netherlands a trip back to their place of birth in Peru. This was the occasion for Alanya to get back in touch with her adoption family and to together learn about her origin. Alanya left for Peru together with her adoption parents in 2000. Everything came together for Alanya at her motherland. This was her home! Seeing and experiencing the poverty, the beggars and the street children was not easy for Alanya, however. She immediately felt drawn to the street children’s fate. That is when and why she decided to do something for these children in her hometown Ayacucho.

Founding Los Cachorros

Back in the Netherlands, Alanya gathered a few people and founded, with the idea of NoiZ in the back of her head, Los Cachorros on September 28, 2000. The following three years were all about fundraising, sponsoring activities, generating publicity and establish contacts in Ayacucho. It was until May 29, 2003 that the doors of the night shelter finally opened for the street children of Ayacucho. Since 2006, Los Cachorros also offers a 24/7 shelter. Apart from a house above their heads, Los Cachorros pays attention supporting street children in surrounding neighborhoods and offers education and information sessions at schools, police stations and other communities. What once started with sympathy for the fate of the street children in Ayacucho has grown beautifully into a successful shelter which has offered support to hundreds of kids in the past few years. Together with a team of streetworkers, social workers, psychologists, a nurse and teacher, Alanya is fighting for a chance of a better future for the streetkids.

(end of source)

As a foundation Los Cachorros (the cubs) is based in the Netherlands however the work is done in Peru of course. As non profit organisation it always can do with a little more help and fundings (yep here he goes again, asking yall money for poor animals or kids or poor people) but I figure you would like to know more about what her foundation is doing.

I think a worthy opener for my every day heroe section don’t you agree?

Los Cachorros – A home for street children . click the banner to find out how you can help

New Day. the Night Shelter part 2

This is part 2 of a real story that starts here

New Day–Patty LaBelle

Before we started with the N.O.I.Z, when it still was just a plan, one of the issues we discussed was which people would be eligible for a job as volunteer and what we could and should offer in return.The ideal situation would be that everyone that applied would be able to get a chance but we also knew that a lot of those applications would prove to be unrealistic. We knew that there would be people among it that had the intention to really change their life around but that there would also be a lot of people that simply wouldn’t be able to make it for a number of reasons. There where the drug and alcohol addicts. These people would have the first intention to do what is needed but their addiction would come in the way. Their where the mental cases which depending on what was “wrong” with them could work very well but could also mean they could be flipping out or snapping at a moments notice. There where the young kids aged 16 to 20 who came with all the right reasons but proved to lack responsibility and so on. Getting volunteers out of this available lot would mean a lot of talking and planning.

The first days we kept running the shelter therefore with the help of the squatters, some former homeless and a few people from the other shelters, meanwhile having interviews with the candidates for a place as volunteer. The plan was as following. The homeless volunteer would work shifts at the shelter, either night or day shifts, and in return they would have their own place to live. They would be able to apply for social benefits, get a financial aid to work on debts and if needed they would get help with other problems that they might have like addictions, reconnecting with family and things like that. We had come to an agreement with the city council that all who would come work for the foundation would get a priority treatment and the social security office and that they could work while retaining benefit (In the Netherlands when you have social benefits, you can’t just go out for volunteer work, you need to have permission or risk losing your benefits)

Of course applications for volunteer work poured in and after a lot of interviews we managed to form a team of volunteers that should be able to run the shelter day and night. It consisted mainly of young people between 20 and 30 years, some of them with light addictions but nobody with major issues. This was of course on purpose since our first weeks had to be about forming a structure, drawing out the lines on how the shelter and everything involved with it should and could work. During all this time talks with the city continued and the risk of us having to leave the building always remained in the background We knew beforehand that the building we occupied would be a long shot when it comes to getting it as permanent place so part of our “demands” was that we wanted a permanent place for the shelter and a permanent solution for the housing of the volunteers.Now, if the city wants something from you they expect that you do this within a certain time frame, for example you have to fill in forms and return them within 14 days. However when you want something done from city other means of measuring time seems to come in play. Maybe they have a calendar there that misses a few days after each page or they have clocks that run at a tenth of normal speed.. I don’t know. Fact was that this all went very slow

Running a shelter will cost money, even if you run a shelter in a building that costs you nothing. Just the mornings alone needed several loafs of bread, loads of milk, coffee and tea. Thins like cheese, peanut butter and other products to put on the bread. There was the need for soap , shampoo and toothpaste. Then in the evening people of course where hungry when they walked in so there was the need for a hot meal and again loads of coffee, tea, sugar and milk and then the next day rinse and repeat.

To be able to pay for (most)  of this a small contribution was asked. I am not entirely sure anymore but I believe we asked ƒ2,50 (we still had guilders back then) for sleeping and I believe ƒ1,50 for a hot meal. Of course (especially in the starting period) if someone didn’t have the money he was still welcome. The shelter proved to be a huge success and that winter we made sure nobody had to sleep outside.

Slowly but surely winter came to an end but still there was no solid agreement with city council. this was the moment the sympathy and public opinion would probably turn from “it’s winter you can’t kick them out” to “I couldn’t care less” thus giving police the opportunity to remove us from the building without to much outrage.) Luckily however we had been successful in showing that our shelter was a viable alternative for the existing shelters, that our concept of “self governing” was working and that the city was indeed better of with keeping us alive so finally, a few day before winters end , there was some result. The agreement was made that we would close down the shelter for the time being after the winter while the city would search for a suitable building for us where we could return with the shelter the following winter. Also the city agreed to keep the current group of volunteers together. This was done by putting us into a cheap hotel until more permanent housing was arranged.

Winter ended and the shelter closed down. We all went into the hotel waiting for what more would come. days became weeks and weeks became months

Then, just a few weeks before the next winter the most important issue got solved. The city could not find a suitable building for our shelter so in the end they decided to build us one. On a vacant lot near the main railroad that runs through ton, and right opposite a police station, a pre-fab building was erected. You might have seen similar buildings on building sites. They often house the on-site offices and/or lunch accommodations for the workforce. Now they got used to create a shelter complete with kitchen, showers and big living area. It had 2 rooms for the volunteers (who still didn’t had their own housing) a room for couples, one for the woman and 4 regular rooms. Each room had beds for 8 persons. There was a special luggage room that could be locked and everything else you need or want for a shelter. From then on, the N.O.I.Z was an official night shelter, accepted by the city and police, loved by our clients and cooperating with other organizations like the Salvation Army and other night shelters.

Funny thing was that working in our new location proved to be a more difficult task then in the old location. The old building we had was of such a big size, that the volunteers could have their own space when off duty. They could have a good rest and relax a little while in the new building they didn’t have that privacy. I can recall many days that I came out of a night shift just to be awake the whole day due to noises of working people in the building. This was certainly not a good situation and thus tensions rose. We have had many little crisis during that first year but amazing enough they all stayed within the group. Our clients never ha to deal with them apart from them having to wait a bit because someone had quit and a replacement had to be “called in”. I have worked many shifts that where not mine due to things of that nature.

but then at last, , we got word that housing was available. City council had found two houses near the edge of town that was perfect for us. There where enough rooms to house all volunteers and it was accessible enough to be in town quickly if people had to go to their shift (where ever and whenever these would start again). Now the contours of our new organization took shape and our promise to the volunteers that they would be able to get a new chance to get off the streets could finally be fulfilled. Now with housing for the volunteers and a building to run a night shelter we finally had what we set out to accomplish. The N.O.I.Z was running and was there to stay.

This all happened long ago but the shelter is still running strong. I have worked there myself for a good 3 years in which I almost exclusively did the night shifts. This year it will celebrate it’s 20th anniversary and I am very proud of that. The pre-fab building have gone and the shelter is now situated in a nice building near the center of town. It has merged with one of the biggest organizations in regards to social work with homeless and addicts but is still true to it’s self governing principles. Every night about 30 people sleep and eat there, every day and night a group of former homeless is doing their shifts meanwhile working towards independence and a brighter future.

As you might have seen, this all took place in a period of my life that I was also enjoying the greens and some other things like mushrooms and mdma so the timeline could be a little off target. However all events have happened in this timeframe and I have told them to the best of my recollection. I have avoided names since I take privacy very serious and there might be people that do not want to be associated with the N.O.I.Z for whatever reason they might have. This article remains subject to corrections if I encounter major errors.

Moral of my story if there is any would be that no matter what your circumstances are you have always the choice to change things around. If even a homeless can house other homeless then others should be able to help themselves and others as well.   If you are in a situation that requires action, make that choice and act. I hope you liked my story and maybe we meet again in another blog


the Night Shelter–A story about turning misfortune into opportunity

A track produced and written by Pringle and Jeebase to raisefunds and awreness for the Oxford Night Shelter for homless, this track features: lewis byfield,Joseph aristide,David McMahon (Pringle) Calvin (A.G) Charlton Allen and michael hicks. this Track is availible To buy on itunes using the following link. its only £0.79 and goes to a great cause …

Link for above song

This story starts somewhere around autumn 1994, I had a good summer behind me in which I had been playing the Djembe on the streets of Utrecht and a few weeks on the beaches of Scheveningen, a beach town near the Hague together with a good  friend (by now my best friend and brother from another mother). We had made some good money and had a lot of fun but summer had come to an ending and preparations for winter had to be made. This basically meant planning ahead where to go for a bed for the next 3 or four months. In 1994, the amount of shelter for the night was limited in Utrecht and besides that it was bound to certain rules that made it tricky to be certain of a place to sleep at night.  There was a place where you could stay 21 nights a month but you had to make sure to be there within a certain timeframe to make sure you had the spot and there was a place where you could stay for 5 days a month leaving 2 or 3  days a month without options. The total beds between the two locations was 41 beds and there was the “sick bay” from the Salvation Army but to be honest… you had to lay in front of it half dying before you had a chance of getting in. The total demand was around 90 to 100 at minimum.

Now of course not everybody wanted an inside place to sleep and my town has some excellent outside spots that are like a hotel room for us, and as long as it was summer or early autumn there was no real shortage in available beds. However as winter closed in, the demand got higher and tensions rose between the different groups in the shelter between each other and towards the social workers.Mix in with that the fact that the volunteers of the shelters where under-trained, often belittling, inconsiderate or just plane rude and you got a recipe for trouble. Now on the streets certain people draw together of course, groups are formed and there is a certain hierarchy. I had the good fortune to reside in the group of people that, though not “top dogs”, could move, talk and deal with almost all other groups. Although most of us smoked marijuana on a regular base and did mushrooms or lsd once in a while, we where also the group that always looked for ways to improve our lives.

Now word came about winter. During winter a special arrangement should come in place ensuring more beds. This system however was fairly new and implementation was always a struggle.

My bro (we weren’t “bro’s” back then mind you but he is my bro now so I will call him that for the remainder) had been involved in trying to get a sort of Union for Homeless and had asked me into some of the meetings at that time. During one of those the idea for a new kind of night shelter was born. This should not only be a night shelter for the homeless… no this should also be a night shelter by the homeless. They would be responsible for the shifts to keep the shelter running, they would be responsible for the cleaning, the cooking, the grocery’s the finances. Greeting the guests, keeping an eye out during night time, do the laundry, be on “the board” etc etc.

One night, just a few days before winter would begin, I was sitting kind of “high” in the night shelter, my bro was sitting on the other end of the room Suddenly one of the volunteers of the shelter came to me and told me there was a phone call for me. This was very odd, your typical 1994 homeless had nobody that would really could have the urge to call right?  On the phone was one of the people I had met during the meetings. It was a young man, around 25 I think. I knew he worked at the foundation that was running the night shelter as well. He asked me to come to a certain address and to come alone.

Upon arriving there where 4 people present, the young man, his girl friend, a man I knew to be a photographer and friend of bro and a man I knew to be a homeless one who also had been involved in the meetings. They told me they where making plans to actually start with the night shelter and that they wanted me among the founding group to make the board complete. Why bro wasn’t asked I don’t know and it wasn’t told to me either and to be honest, I was still a bit high, I was a bit blown away, I was confused….but also honored and excited. So I accepted.

After a long night of talking and planning, preparations began. There was of course the need for a building, there was the need for an official by notary approved foundation so we had a legal say, there was the need for beds or anything that could serve that purpose, sheets and blankets and pillows and pots and pans…. the list was endless. Besides that there was the problem of funding…..we had no money.

Pink Floyd–Money

Well, for most of the things we got help from a group of squatters. They promised us that if had a building the would have matrasses and blankets and other things, also there was a group called Emmaus who also promised to help out.And now it was only the matter of a good building. Then one night I got the call, the next morning there would be a building squatted, I got an address and instructions on what to do and the game was on.

By some means unknown to me, somebody had gotten hold on the keys of the building in question, so the actual squatting was a breeze. Someone turned the key, opened the door and the N.O.I.Z as we had called it was born. Of course, since this served a higher purpose, just squatting the place wouldn’t help us to much, if police reacted quick enough they could have us in problems or out in no time so we made sure we started up with a lot of noise  . We called the press, had banners and flags on the building and made our presence and objective known to the public in general and city council and our homeless friends in particular. N.O.I.Z stands for Nacht Opvang In Zelfbheer, it is kind of hard to translate but it comes down to something like Night Shelter In Self Government.


The place we took was an old building in the heart of the city. It was also in close proximity of a daytime center which was the alternative (and still is for many) for walking outside.It was from the 1800”s had several floors and big rooms with high ceilings.  At the back there was a huge space where an old commercial kitchen had been but all the kitchen equipment was gone. The ground floor rooms where used as “living room” for our guests, our “office”, the recreational area and the kitchen. on the first floor there where several big bedrooms the size of a good dormitory which got layered with matrasses and appointed to certain sleeping types and gender. a dormitory for those that snore, a couples dormitory, a ladies dormitory and a few men’s dormitory. And there where the showers and toilets. The building used to be a refugee shelter for a while hence the kitchen in the back.

Now two things went into motion of course. In the first place we had the responsibility to run a night shelter for as much places we had to offer. Run it at least just as good if not better then the existing  ones. Negotiations with the police to make sure we could stay. Negotiations with the city council to get our intentions across and get permission to continue the project, thus being eligible to apply for financial aid. Talks with the press for I think obvious reasons. Get the public opinion behind you and you can achieve great things Smile

All members of the founding board had their own field of operation and although I have been to meetings with the Councilor of Social affairs my involvement with the more theoretical side of it was small. My work was being the representative to the press on behalf of the homeless part of the members of the board and I had the supervision for the night shifts which meant working long nights since a lot of those shifts I worked myself. In fact in all my time that I worked for the N.O.I.Z I have worked maybe 4 evening shifts and also just a few day shifts.

Since winter means that the holidays are coming city council decided that we could stay at least till the end of winter. The still unofficial Foundation was made official by signing the needed paperwork (together with my marriage license the only time I was really proud to sign something) and the everyday business of a shelter became daily life.but that is for a next time.

so far thanks for reading


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As you might have seen in my first post or my about page, I have been homeless for several years. To be precise… I have been homeless since I was 13 years of age until I was 29. To be honest…. I did not sleep on the streets most of that time and I considered myself more a wanderer then a “regular” homeless.


Although I have walked the streets people never could tell I was homeless when they looked and talked to me. Personal hygiene was and is important to me and I never begged for money or food. I have always tried to earn a honest living by working for temp agencys or by creating my own jobs (more on that later)



I have seen a lot of changes during my street years. When i became homeless I was the only kid in my town that actualy was homeless. My “compadres” where all at least 30/35 years of age and help organisations like the Salvation Army had no clue on how to handle a 13 year old “hobo”. Nowadays when I look at what is roaming the streets I see a lot of teens and the “old fashioned” homeless are starting to disappear from the streets. Also when I started to wander the streets there where no such things as street papers like “the big issue” and temp agency’s where reluctant to give work to a homeless person due to the fact they thought that someone from the streets would not be able to get enough sleep and food to go to work on time (or at all). Lucky for me there was one temp agecy that wanted to give me a try and I have done many jobs thanks to them which resulteed in me being able to live my life on the streets without becoming a “criminal” (never been arrested in my life)

In 1994 we had a very harsh winter in the Netherlands and there where not enough beds to ensure a save night for all the homeles in my town so me and a bunch of others squated a big house to start our own nightshelter which was (and still is)  run by the homeless themselves. People can apply for a job in the shelter and in excange for a number of shifts each week the organisation provides a home, income, debt relieve and support towards full “social” intergration in the “normal” world. Thanks to this initiative many former homeless people now are living a normal live with a job and a future ahead. The organisation won 2 prices for best volunteers organisation of the country during it’s first year of operation and it got copied in other towns across the country

For myself.. it took a bit more then just the N.O.I.Z (NachtOpvang In Zelfbeheer, roughly translated it means Night shelter in self-management). For me it took meeting my current wive. I really didn’t care that much for living in a house, I was pretty content with wandering across Europe but I figured that if I had a girlfriend I could not willingly let her stay on the streets so we took efforts to get off. It took a few years and a lot of hard work but I can say that we are off the streets for the last 15 years now, we are debt free, addiction free and happily married (this year we celebrate our 15th anniversary)


Of course this is just a introduction to my live on the streets, loads more can be told but I think that is for another time. However if you have questios feel free to ask them.


Mavadelo, an introduction


My name is Martin

I am born at 18-08-68 in Utrecht, the Netherlands as the last of 8 children in a house bearing number 8. Guess what my favorite number is ;)

I have had a live that some of you would call difficult, I am an adoptive child, I have been homeless for many years, have done drugs and am currently taking care of a dissabled wive (whom I met while homeless btw)

many of these I will probably discuss in this blog but if you have any questions feel free to ask.

Although using the nick Mavadelo here (which stands simply for MArtin VAn DEr LOuw) I am better known under the nicknames Whizzy (my öfficial” nick for over 30 years), a1Whizzy (youtube), daWhizzy (severla gaming sites) or Wh1zzy (twitter) so feel free to drop me a line if you encounter those nicks somewhere


you can view this info also on the about page