Short Story

So much has happened since I was an intern at the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg. During my final year of American Studies in Nijmegen I lived and worked as an intern to complement my studies and partly write my MA thesis. After graduating I transferred from American Politics to International Relations in Amsterdam.

At the moment, I am living and working in Costa Rica as a volunteer for Salvando Corazones. This organization recently opened a safe house for girls under eighteen who are working in the commercial sex industry. A few years ago, Costa Rica was flagged by the United Nations as a high-risk country concerning sex tourism and humantracking. Increasingly, male tourists from the United States and several European countries visit the country primarily to engage in illegal prostitution. Although the government acknowledges the fact that there is a huge problem, they have not yet developed any policies to tackle it. The shelters that exist in Costa Rica do not have the professional skills or funds to deal with a target group such as former minors who were prostitutes. Our safe house provides support and psychological help to female minors with this specic prole, making it a unique chance for these girls to escape their street life and create a better future.

Being a volunteer in a project like this is more challenging than I could have ever imagined. First of all, the organizational structure is fragile and right now all volunteers present at the house (a total of five) are working very hard to create a sustainable operations manual , weekly schedules and behavior rules. In the meantime we remain open so girls are still coming in –some are leaving within two weeks – which results in a challenging work environment. This being said, I am learning so much about what it takes to set up an NGO, which skills are needed to work with a target group like this, and whether I fit that prole, and how to protect personal boundaries while working here. This experience will help me throughout my personal and professional life and I am very thankful to be given an opportunity like this!