I joined the YC right from the start, as a volunteer of the Dutch Council on Youth and Population (now CHOICE) at the ICPD+5 Youth Forum in The Hague, 1999. Some of us met there and in the years to come, and we all agreed that SRHR is too important to let adults decide over without including us, and we stayed in touch.
For many years, the Youth Coalition was my life. I worked for YC day and night, literally. It influenced everything I did, including doing my Masters thesis on teenager's perceptions of sexuality in a slum in Costa Rica. It was extremely challenging to overcome lack of funds, lack of understanding of how to set up an organization, cultural and language differences, lack of internet access, time differences, and diverse expectations within the YC. But the energy I got when together, when influencing UN agencies, NGOs and donor countries, when meeting other progressive youth, always won.
Since YC (and partially during YC) I have worked for the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) as Campaign Coordinator, been involved in the People’s Health Movement, and worked on participatory youth research at a Dutch research NGO (Stichting Alexander). I have worked for UNFPA on youth programmes in Pakistan and, more recently, at the regional office in Bangkok, Thailand. I am still in Bangkok now, together with my partner and our two kids. I work as a consultant and continue to advocate for ASRH and youth participation at every opportunity I get.
It's been amazing to have opportunities to meet and work with YC members at several occasions over the past years - I'm so proud of the YC and all the amazing young people that continue to be a force of change for themselves and especially for other young people around the world.