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Stichting Vluchteling helps refugees in emergency

"Compassion adds value and guidance to your life"

Supporting refugees has never been as important as it is today. Worldwide, more than 65 million people have fled their homes escaping from conflict or persecution. Raptim spoke to Tineke Ceelen of Stichting Vluchteling, who has made it her life’s mission to help the most vulnerable people in remote locations. “My whole life revolves around compassion.”

Stichting Vluchteling gives refugees a voice

Since 2003, Ceelen has been the director of Stichting Vluchteling (Refugee Foundation), an emergency aid organization providing support to refugees across the planet. When there is an emergency, Stichting Vluchteling arranges shelter, medical care, food and clean drinking water. They have been helping refugees for over six decades.

“Every human life is worth to be saved,” Ceelen says. “That is why I do what I do and why we take risks. You don’t save a life just between office hours. If it needs to be saved at 3 AM, you save it regardless, and you do that out of compassion. Compassion adds value and sense of direction to your life. When you lose that compass, you end up in a sad situation.”

Ever since the refugee crisis escalated in the last years, there is plenty of cynicism among European citizens towards refugees and the humanitarian organizations helping them. To combat those sceptic sentiments, Stichting Vluchteling explains the story of refugees. “It is important to show what we do and how we work as an organization.”

“Refugees can’t share their stories themselves, so we give them a voice and tell their stories. Because we are heard, and we have the infrastructure, we are capable of providing aid. You cannot control where you are born; that is a matter of luck, and the way you should approach the refugee issue,” Ceelen explains.


From a very young age Tineke Ceelen was taught by her parents you have to be there for people who are less fortunate. That was when the seed was planted for her passion. "My father was a huge supporter of Catholic congregations providing humanitarian aid in Africa. Since he donated to these organizations, we received their magazines, reports, and folders. And I read all of it; I devoured them. I was fascinated by the thought of living and working in another culture."

And so she did. Before working with Stichting Vluchteling, Ceelen lived in Tibet and Cameroon, working for humanitarian organizations, helping people in need. She helped to provide development aid and contributed to a number of long-term projects. Even though she has a great passion for development work, Ceelen realized she didn't have enough patience. "Of course, you can't expect to completely develop a country within a few years. But I have an intolerance for lack of immediate results, so I decided it was time for something else."

When Ceelen had the chance to lead Stichting Vluchteling, it was an opportunity she couldn't resist, due to its exciting and satisfying nature. Here, she can help people in need. Rightfully, Ceelen is very proud of the aid Stichting Vluchteling provides under the toughest circumstances. Of course, challenges are always present. "First, it is inherent to our organization to work in conflict areas. There is war and violence, so it's very difficult to have access to the places where you're needed most. Secondly, it is a challenge to keep the humanitarian staff, goods, and operations safe."

As a full-service humanitarian travel management company, we recognize the importance of accessibility and availability, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Raptim has been serving Stichting Vluchteling proudly for many years now, getting them where they are needed most. "What I very much appreciate, is that I can call Raptim at the most ungodly hours," Ceelen adds. "Obviously, we travel to very remote and difficult areas. When there is an emergency, I might have to travel on very short notice, and that's when you need immediate travel assistance."


Stichting Vluchteling and every other compassionate humanitarian organization working towards a better world for all is an inspiration to us. Our daily articles provide updates regarding humanitarian response which touch on important issues and explain great humanitarian work happening on this planet. Follow our blog should you want to read more articles regarding humanitarian development.

Photo credits: Stichting Vluchteling