This is the story of the initiator of the program:
I am Xavier Friesen. I am now 18, and I completed the Stedelijk Gymnasium in Nijmegen last summer (2020). Just started my studies at Leiden University College in The Hague: international relations and international economics. I love to travel. When I was 11 years old and in group 8 of primary school (in 2014), I wanted to go on a long journey. But not just to go on vacation. I also wanted and want to do something for children who have fewer opportunities than I do. That’s why I wanted to travel to Zambia. A country that needs help, and I want to help a little bit too. I have already been there in February and March 2014 and again in the summer. I first worked there as a volunteer. I was a teacher at a school. More about that in a moment. I was allowed to leave my primary school and the Education Inspectorate during school hours. My mother, Ietje Friesen, went with me. And .. I went back in July and August 2014. To open the school! Really. In February 2017 I went to Zambia for the third time. Together with my brother, Gabòr, who took care of a Dental Care project at the Linda Blind Farm School. I have seen with my own eyes how well the money is being spent. And in May 2018 I had the opportunity to go to Zambia for another month. With again special goals and wonderful results. In short, that resulted in that I went back again in December 2019 / January 2020 to put the finishing touches on the construction of the second school, the primary school.
While Xavier Friesen talks about his foundation Building blocks for Zambia, he prefers not to talk about his health. Due to the rare muscle disease and the bone abnormality that he has to contend with, he has been frequently found at the Radboudumc in recent years. “Technically speaking, my muscles are thinner due to a gene abnormality. When I stop exercising, I lose my muscle mass. In eighth grade I had pain 24 hours a day as a result. The growing protrusions on my bones have to be removed from time to time.”
Because of the disorders, Xavier missed many lessons. Despite the many absenteeism, the Stedelijk Gym stimulated his other passions as well; membership of the Dutch core team Bridge and his work for Building Blocks for Zambia. “Most years I have only followed 40 to 50 percent of the lessons. I think looking at students in this way, giving them every opportunity, is really typical of this school. And then they have also launched numerous actions to support the construction of the school in Zambia. Really amazing.”
Copyright photo and video: X. Friesen
Copyright upper text part about the program: X. Friesen
Copyright lower text part about Xavier Friesen: “De Gelderlander”