Last December, chairman Tamara Bosboom and I paid a working visit to Operation Bobbi Bear.
Unfortunately, we have had to conclude that we no longer see a future in working with them. The reason for this is that, despite repeated requests during the past 2 years, the management of Operation Bobbi Bear has not been able to draw up a multi-year plan in which they express their vision and set new goals.
As some of you may have noticed, there was still income from a volunteer program up to and including Covid19. However, the situation has changed worldwide and volunteers will not come again soon, given the recent calamities in KwaZulu Natal. In addition, income from sponsorship by local companies has almost come to a standstill since Covid, the riots and the floods.
So it had been known for some time that Operation Bobbi Bear had to change course in order to survive. Only that rudder did not change and there was no plan. We as the Bobbi Bear NL Foundation cannot and do not want to make that plan for Operation Bobbi Bear. After all, it is their organization, they make the decisions and we just support them. Unfortunately, those decisions never came, nor did any plans.
We also found on site that business operations are not as efficient as we might expect. We also find it disappointing that despite repeated requests from our side to make adjustments, management is still in the hands of one and the same person. That makes the organization vulnerable. Then we also have a difference of opinion about the need to empower the Child Safety Officers to develop further.
We have concluded a cooperation agreement with Wilde Ganzen for the Power of PEP programme. In this context, Wilde Ganzen also visited Bobbi Bear in August of this year. They found that, compared to other partners in the same region, the resilience of Operation Bobbi Bear seems to be lagging behind. Despite their determination, they still wanted Operation Bobbi Bear as a cooperation partner. But then there would have to be a vision of how to keep the doors of the Bobbi Bear house open and to be able to pay the running costs. The Power of PEP program would run for more years.
That certainty or a plan to do so has not materialized. There was not even an intention to spar with other organizations or to start a plan.
We informed Eureka and the CSOs of our decision before we left South Africa. We have distributed the funds that were still reserved for Power of PEP as a Christmas bonus to all Operation Bobbi Bear personnel.
In the board meeting of our Bobbi Bear Netherlands foundation on January 3rd, the decision to close our foundation was confirmed. As treasurer, I prepared all donations made after December 15 for refund to our Mollie payment system. Keep an eye on whether your donation is also included and whether it will be returned. Otherwise, send me an email and I’ll look into it further.
We are sure that with all the donations in recent years many great things have been done for the children of Operation Bobbi Bear. We have no doubts about that. Our thanks for all the support are sincere and big! A real difference has been made for the children at Operation Bobbi Bear. I would also like to ask these donors to instruct your bank institution to stop the standing order or standing order, if you have issued one.
We regret that we had to make this decision. It really hurt Tamara and me too.
As a personal note, I would like to add that I have always devoted my free hours (and money) to establishing the foundation, the ANBI status and “bringing in” Wilde Ganzen as a cooperation partner. Setting up a website, creating a well-functioning donation system, I did it all for the first time. With trial and error, the foundation finally seemed to get something serious done when the ANBI status came about and the collaboration. I was really proud of that. Stopping the activities was by no means an easy decision. Even before leaving for South Africa, there was some frustration on my side because of the slow progress of the cooperation with OBB on Power of PEP, the 3-year program that we would run with Wilde Ganzen and which was absolutely an amazingly beautiful program. I have shed a lot of tears in the past few weeks. The foundation felt like “my baby” but of course it wasn’t. Operation Bobbi Bear was a loving part of my life and my passion to help them move forward was like a burning fire within me.
But I also have an obligation to all donors. Their money must go directly and completely to the benefit of poverty alleviation and direct aid to traumatized children, and we must have reasonable certainty about the continuity of the organization. Tamara and I were no longer sure about these points during the visit, during which we had discussions with many parties inside and outside OBB.
Finally, I would like to thank a few people for all the help:
- First of all: To all the Rough Aunties who have shared their life experience with me over the past few years, which has made me grow as a person!
- To all donors, big and small, for making many beautiful projects and projects possible!
- To my most loyal fan and supporter, who always stood by me with support and activities for the past 6 years: My husband Stephan de Ruijter!
- To my second most loyal supporter and counselor Marjolein Westerterp, for her encouragement but also critical eye.
- To my son Mika for helping me create the website
- To my fellow board members David, Lisa and Tamara for selflessly investing their time!
- To the interest organization Partin, because I was only able to handle all formalities with the help of their handy online tools!
- To Betty Jelier, our permanent fundraiser, for her efforts, especially for the project “Beren op Wielen
- To Marit van de Liere, for all her patience in working together on the project plan Power of PEP!
- To Kayleigh Boerjan for thinking along and morally supporting!
- To Tamara for being involved in the recent visit to OBB. Without her support and pragmatic view of the situation, I would not have been able to analyze the whole thing so well.
The handling and dismantling of the foundation will still take several weeks of work. But there will come a time when the website and social media accounts will disappear.
I would have loved to start this year with better news for Operation Bobbi Bear and its fans. Still, I hope for your understanding.
Do you still want an explanation? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make a call or zoom appointment and I will answer all questions.
Bridget de Ruyter