On Friday, August 21, a new adventure began for the Op ‘t Hof family: living and working in Uganda. The family was due to leave at the end of July, but they had to postpone their plans due to the corona crisis. In August, Jaco and Bertine boarded the plane to Kampala with their three young children – and with 15 suitcases and 2 bags. What motivates them to take this step? And what is the impact of this decision on their family?
Jaco, you worked for ZOA in Apeldoorn for a while. Why go to Uganda?
About 2.5 years ago I started at ZOA in Apeldoorn. I became increasingly enthusiastic about living and working in one of the ZOA-countries as a result of my work visits to these countries and the many conversations with colleagues. Last year, I replaced a colleague in Uganda for a month during his leave. That was a good test for me. After that, I became even more and more enthusiastic. For me, it was great to work in Apeldoorn and support the teams in 16 different countries. But it sometimes I felt the distance between me and the beneficiaries. I would like to be closer to our beneficiaries, get to know them better .
I started working for ZOA three years ago because I felt enormously blessed by God. I am convinced that we are all challenged to look after each other on this earth. I would therefore like to use my experience, qualities and enthusiasm for God and my fellow human beings.
I just started my work as Manager Operations for ZOA Uganda. I am responsible for Finance, HR, Logistics, IT and Security. To give an impression: more than 100 colleagues work in Uganda, in three field offices and a country office.
What impact does this step have on you as a family?
The impact on our family is huge. If my wife and I did not agree upon this step for 100%, I would not have made this choice. For my wife, the impact is even bigger than for me. I am going to Uganda for my work, but she had quit her job in the Netherlands and her future is therefore more uncertain. The children have to go to an International school and will have to make new friends. Over the past six months, we have been busy with all the preparations for our emigration. We have all had vaccinations, sorted out our belongings, followed security training, looked for tenants, organized farewell parties, looked for accommodation, made a school choice from a distance, etc.
What is your background in terms of education and work experience?
Before I started to work for ZOA I worked in Auditing for 10 years. I am a chartered accountant and I have gained a lot of experience in many different sectors. In addition, I am extremely happy with the two and a half years of experience at ZOA’s head office as Project Controller of, among others, the programme in Uganda.
The transition from the commercial world to an INGO like ZOA was bigger than I expected. Instead of making as much profit as possible, writing as many billable hours as possible or paying as little tax as possible, completely different goals were now important. How can we efficiently work together to help the most vulnerable people in this world?
The great thing about ZOA is that all staff are extremely intrinsically motivated for the work we do. My first months were therefore like a great experience. I feel honored to be able to work in such an enthusiastic and experienced group of colleagues. Together, we try to make the world a bit more beautiful.
On the other hand, the money we receive from our donors must be spent as well as possible, it is my role to look at this with a critical and businesslike view. In that respect, this new track is a great mix of these worlds.
What are you most looking forward to in your new job?
I am most looking forward to working with my Ugandan colleagues. More than 95% of my new colleagues are Ugandan and I hope to be able to learn a lot from them – and hopefully they also benefit from my experience.
Jaco is part of a ZOA-team of 1000 colleagues all over the world. We are here for people who have lost everything in a war or a disaster. Together, we can come to their aid in emergencies and remain faithful to communities as they recover – providing new opportunities for them to help themselves again. We we invite you to join our team!