Dutch Soroptimists collected more than €500,000 in support of the ‘Syria Back to School’ campaign for the benefit of Syrian child refugees in Turkey.

The funds raised with the help of projects and events organised throughout the Netherlands since 2014 have enabled UNICEF to build more than 20 classrooms and to furnish 15 modified school buildings. Thanks to this successful cooperation, hundreds of teachers, including Syrian refugees, were engaged so that the children could be taught in their own language. UNICEF Executive Director Suzanne Laszlo received the final cheque at the Annual Meeting of SI Netherlands in Veenendaal in early February.


The main initiator of the Syria ‘Back to School’ project was Margit van Hoeve from SI Gouda. “I saw the destroyed cities and downhearted refugees on TV, and it looked like no one was doing anything to help’, Van Hoeve said. She passionately brought the Syrian child refugee problem to the attention of her fellow Soroptimists at the Annual Meeting of the Union of the Netherlands, Surinam and Curaçao in 2014. After her presentation, the Soroptimists initiated a national campaign, which eventually gained the support of 2500 members in a whopping 89% of the 100 Dutch clubs.


With tremendous commitment and creativity, Soroptimists organised projects all over the country. They set up wine, clothing and flower sales and put on concerts and sport events. Two members made a fantastically illustrated reading book, while others made lanterns or homemade jewelry to sell. They sponsored art auctions and mother-daughter days, and sold over six thousand traditional Dutch chocolate letters.


‘With the Soroptimists’ contribution we can help more child refugees, and together we can make a big difference’, said UNICEF Turkey’s deputy representative Lieke van de Wiel.