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The Board

The Thumbs Up Africa board consists of six ambitious young people, with diverse backgrounds and interests. Below they express their views on the journey and emphasize the different aspects Thumbs Up Africa will encounter.

Roy Tjan, President and Founder

"In an endeavor to fulfill one of my dreams, I wanted to combine my passions for hitchhiking, Africa, humanitarian aid, and development. Thumbs Up Africa is the realization of that dream!"

To realize one of his dreams, that of achieving something which has never been achieved before, Roy got sparked by the concept of Thumbs Up Africa. Upon receiving his Master’s degree in Human Movement Sciences, Roy founded the Thumbs Up Foundation by combining his passions for hitchhiking, Africa, humanitarian aid, and development. After working as a project coordinator for the SPARK Foundation in South Africa, he continued his studies within the Network of Humanitarian Action (NOHA) in the Netherlands and Spain. Roy has worked for the United Nations Somalia and is currently working for UNICEF in Myanmar. Roy specializes in the management of humanitarian aid and peace processes, with an emphasis on the community reintegration of former child soldiers. Roy hopes that Thumbs Up Africa will spark new projects throughout Africa, while visualizing the necessity for a sustainable future.
Click here to mail Roy!

Ayla van Kessel, Secretary


"By getting to know the characters and thoughts of people living on another side of the world, you realize that we are one human family on a planet that we all need to take care of!"

As young global citizens, Thumbs Up Africa’s board members see the necessity of acting now for the Earth to be a habitable place for everyone in the future. Ayla, Bachelor student in International Relations in Groningen and Mexico City, trusts in the power of meeting. By getting to know the characters and thoughts of people living on another side of the world, one realizes that we are one human family on a planet that we all need to take care of. Recently, the Youth Action for Change’s online course on youth leadership, sustainability and ethics, inspired Ayla to help spread the values of the Earth Charter. Worldwide, we should respect and care for life in all its diversity! All of us in this world have the common universal responsibility for a sustainable future.
Click here to mail Ayla!


Huub Borren, Route Coordinator and Treasurer

"Creating a sustainable future will not be easy, but if we think outside the box and are creative it is possible. Thumbs Up will be a motivator for people to start their sustainable journey."

During his study International Relations and his trip to Southern Africa, Huub was confronted with the lack of sustainability. This inspired him to unite with Thumbs Up Africa because he wanted to promote sustainability in a creative and challenging way. Huub has experience in organizing theatre plays and has organized several congresses regarding International Relations. He is currently using this experience in the board of Thumbs Up Africa as route coordinator. He hopes that Thumbs Up Africa will inspire people to think outside the box to create a sustainable future.
Click here to mail Huub!

Yvonne Kraak, Public Relations

"There is no road to sustainability, sustainability is the road"

Always having enjoyed traveling, Yvonne fell in love with the Thumbs Up Foundation and Thumbs Up Africa; combining traveling and a good cause. Feeding her curiosity and interests, she has attended several programs such as the Youth Leadership Program organized by the United World Colleges, and courses in Shambhala Buddhism in France. After a year in Paris, she is now on Dutch soil again, combining her position as Public Relations Board Member with studying Religion Studies in Groningen. Being endlessly curious, and always wanting to be righteous in life, the Thumbs Up Foundation and Yvonne are a match. But the Thumbs Up Foundation is not about her, nor about the Board. It is about the entire world. As a whole, we can make a difference, and it will be in the October, November and December 2012.
Click here to mail Yvonne!

Anna Booij, Program Coordinator

"Thumbs Up creates a link between people and issues worldwide. This enables us to exchange ideas, learn from each other and work together towards a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. That is what inspires me."

The African continent with all its diversity, challenges, and opportunities has fascinated Anna Booij since long. During her studies, which include International Development Studies, Conflict Studies and Humanitarian Action at different Dutch universities, she acquired field experience in countries like Burundi and Uganda. During her work and research in different parts of Africa, Anna got inspired by the many local initiatives that try to address the multiple aspects of unsustainable development. Through Thumbs Up Africa, Anna hopes to emphasize people’s own capacities to work towards a peaceful, just, and sustainable future. Highlighting the importance of improved communication and cooperation between different individuals, organizations, and institutions worldwide is essential. In this way, a firm basis can be established for the equal partnership and mutual trust that is needed to find creative solutions for the complex issues our world faces today.
Click here to mail Anna!

Nienke Toren, Security Coordinator

"Students feel tired of all the conferences on sustainable development. A new way is needed to reestablish the focus on this important topic, a way which visualizes this broad concept in a challenging environment. That is why I believe in the mission of Thumbs Up."

During her studies International Relations and International and European Law, Nienke developed a strong interest in human rights and development cooperation. She believes in the strength of education which is an important factor to create the awareness that makes people take action against inequalities worldwide. Nienke tried to contribute to this awareness by being a member of the board of the foundation Develop Your World, which organized a student conference on development cooperation. During this process, Nienke noticed that nowadays students feel tired of the overload of often non-participatory and non-activating conferences. Therefore, she realized that a new way is needed in order to maintain interest in the important concept of sustainable development. The hitchhiking journey of Thumbs Up Africa seems to be a perfect chance for a new way to create awareness; a concept which visualizes the inequalities and which brings different cultures and understandings together.
Click here to mail Nienke!

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