Once December hits, it’s usually full-on holiday madness. Anyone and everyone is obsessed with finding the perfect gift to give. But what about those of us who are focused on giving back to the world and the community, rather than giving gifts? This year, we want to focus on giving back as well as giving to each other. So, in addition to bringing you our annual gift guide, we’re also profiling our amazing Ro’Heroes who are giving back this month.
We’ve got tons of charity rides coming up to support causes that mean a lot to us, and we’d like to highlight the badass, charitable Ro’heroes who are making them happen. So, without further ado, let us introduce you to Avia Astryd, one of our amazing Ro’heroes this month.
Hi Avia! First of all, thank you so much for putting together a charity ride. We love to see our riders taking initiative like this. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I am Avia. I was born 31 years ago in Indonesia. I work in finance and accounting at a telecommunication company. I’ve been moving constantly my whole life ever since I was a child, growing up mainly in France and Indonesia. I moved to Amsterdam two years ago to live with my boyfriend, and I fell in love with the city! Things I love: cooking, watching documentaries and enjoying the view of Amsterdam’s canals at 6.30 in the morning on my way to Rocycle.
You really can’t beat those views. So, we’ve obviously sat down with you to discuss your charity ride. Can you give us some background about your charity?
Serve the City Amsterdam (STC) is an organization that mobilises volunteers and creates volunteering opportunities, activities and programs to serve the community and people in need around Amsterdam. They partner with homeless shelters, refugee centres, nursing homes and other associations, offering help and support. In a way, they bridge and build the connection between the humanitarian needs of the city and the generosity and talents of the volunteers. Everybody can sign up to be a volunteer for a day and get involved in one of their projects that are held every five weeks. December is an important month for STC Amsterdam, as they organise and look for 500 volunteers to participate in their biggest event called “500 Heroes”. There will be multiple projects held serving different target groups across the city, ranging from helping out with Christmas brunch at a nursing home to cooking for homeless to playing games and crafting with kids from a refugee shelter and many more.
Wow! It sounds like a fantastic organisation. What’s its significance for you? Why did you pick it?
My parents taught me the value of helping and serving others when I was a kid. One of my fondest memories from my teenage years in Indonesia involves buying tons of groceries with my mom, cooking up a storm and sharing the food with less fortunate families who lived close to us. When I moved to Amsterdam two years ago, I felt the urge to give back by volunteering, and STC gives allows me to do so. The projects in STC are simple, practical and based on the principle that simple acts of kindness, no matter how big or small, matter. Volunteering at STC is not only a humbling experience, but it has also allowed me to develop my patience, communication and adaptation skills. I am really thankful for STC, and that’s why I chose to support it with this charity ride.
What a beautiful sentiment. We love that you also are bettered by being involved. Apart from your charity ride, are you doing anything else to raise money?
Not currently, but I did in the past when I was a student. From time to time, my friends and I used to cook a big batch of food and sell them at some school events to raise money for charity. Nowadays, I focus more on getting involved by volunteering.
That makes sense. You can make just as big a difference that way. Are there any other causes that are near to your heart?
I think poverty remains a very real and widespread issue, especially in developing countries. I have donated to VSO Nederland to support their programs to fight poverty and inequality, and I also believe in supporting people with disabilities, who are among the most marginalised groups in the world. A couple of years ago, I spent 3 months teaching French to a girl my age with learning disabilities. She had a really hard time memorising verbs, despite tons of repetition. What I found out later was that she had an amazing voice and had no fear of performing in public. This experience was nothing short of eye-opening. Teaching her was quite challenging, but it taught me patience, empathy and made me realise that intelligence and talent come in different shapes and forms. I look forward to having many more opportunities to help people with disabilities.
Exactly. These things look different for everyone. How would you recommend others find a cause they’re passionate about and get involved?
Find out what matters most to you. Think about what makes you angry, sad, happy or fearful for the future. Then, figure out how you would like to support and make a difference. Caring for something so deeply is a journey and a lifestyle, so start small and realise that good deeds matter, no matter how small.
That’s terrific advice. Alright, finally, what does giving back mean to you?
Essentially, giving back means helping one another, just because you can and you care. Personally, being able to give back is a privilege on its own that comes with a sense of responsibility. It is a way for me to express gratitude for being reminded that I have enough, and, although I am not able to repay all the kindness and help I’ve received in my life, I hope that I can pay it forward.
7 December, 15.00 PM City, with Luuk