About Simon Koolwijk
My name is Simon Koolwijk. I was born on a farm in Stolwijk, The Netherlands. My childhood was happy-go-lucky. I played a lot, assisted my parents on their farm work and did well at school. My parents hoped that I was taking over the farm, so I decided to study at the Unversity of Applied Sciences in Agriculture. During this time I discovered that the study did not make me happy. Becoming a farmer was something, that did not make me passionate. I decided to do a study in Agricultural Business and Master of Business Administration. But here, I also discovered that managing a business was not my thing.
Development work in Kenya
A turning point in my life was a summer camp holiday in Ireland in 1988. There I met people from different nationalities, while we were doing community work and cleaning and painting up a community center. This work gave me an inspirational boost. Working with people from different nationalities and doing social work provided me a lot of pleasure. I became a volunteer with Service Civil International and organized a number of summer camps with international volunteers between 1988 – 1990. This experience triggered me, to do social work on another continent. I got connected with the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), an organization that promotes human development and beliefs that people themselves are the key to development by empowering them to take the lead in this process. I applied for three volunteer placements with ICA in India, Kenya and Zambia. I finally decided to go to Kenya, where I worked for 3 ½ years on fundraising, project development and monitoring & evaluation for ICA-Kenya, a local NGO, focusing on human development in urban and rural communities. During this time I learned a lot about social development work and facilitation.
My career as facilitator and trainer in facilitation methods
By the mid of 1995 I moved to the head office of ICA International, where I became trainer in facilitation methods. I conducted training courses for expats who were working in and around the Brussels area, Belgium. Since I discovered that I had difficulty to work under the supervision of a boss, I decided in 1996 to start for myself and started in 1997 ICA-Associates. I was impressed with the power of participative methods and on how it energized and supported people to take leadership of their own lives. In that year I attended the training of trainers in Phoenix – USA to master the skills in conducting trainings in the Technology of Participation techniques. The training was another turning point in my life. All the self-driven community initiatives I saw in Arizona and San Diego inspired me to to become an independent trainer in teaching people participatory methodologies. My first big assignment I got in 1998, when I went to Moldova and trained the whole social department of the Moldova Social Investment Fund, a world bank financed project, in participatory methodologies enabling communities to participate in the rehabilitation of their social infrastructure. It was the beginning of a long career in facilitation, training and capacity development. I changed the name of my company to Facilicom Consult. Between 1998 and 2013 I worked in more than 25 countries where I facilitated multi stakeholder meetings, organizational change processes and equipped professionals working in the sectors of agriculture, health, water & sanitation, environment and infrastructure.
My fascination for participatory video and story telling
In 2008 I became fascinated by the power of video and the idea of participatory video and on how visualized stories can accelerate understanding and change. In 2009 I first piloted participatory video in a youth education project in Uganda. It was impressive to see on how fast young people caught the idea of video making and became creative storytellers. The initiative enabled the young people to show the accomplishments and changes, that had taken place at the youth project in Kawempe, Uganda. It inspired me to attend a number of training courses in filmmaking and participatory video between 2009 and 2013. I took the initiative to integrated activities of participatory video in some of the projects I was involved. This resulted in 2010 to another turning point in my life. After a conflict with one of my colleagues on a participatory video intervention, I realized that if it comes to facilitating participatory video making interventions or film projects, I have to take the lead in the facilitation part and should be confident in communicating my beliefs and values. I realized that in some cases in my work I was too submissive and too shy in communicating my basic needs and wishes and underestimating my own talents and capacities. Although the working relationship with the colleague, did not work out, it strengthened my belief that I could make a difference in participatory video and filmmaking. Between November 2010 and March 2011, 4 youth groups in Moldova produced participatory videos with my facilitating support and that of local filmmakers in a youth development project. It enabled the young people to show their accomplishments at a National Youth Conference, that was attended by local and international NGOs and policy makers from the Moldovan government.
My transformation to participatory video facilitator, trainer and filmmaker
In 2013, I finally was rewarded for all the work I had invested in obtaining the skills in participatory video and filmmaking. I got a big assignment with the Ethiopia Social Accountability program, a project that promotes the dialogue between service providers and service users in improving the quality of public services. Between 2013 and 2016, I conducted major participatory video interventions in Ethiopia and South Sudan with VNG International. In 2014, I decided to change the name of my company into Facili2transform, symbolized by a lighthouse being the light into the darkness of the night. The lighthouse is the power of the video, the light of Hope, that helps groups to pass through the process of change, which is resembled by the darkness of the night. In May 2016, I decided to fully focus my efforts on offering services in participatory videos story telling for change.
In August, 2016 I got another enlightening experience. When I attended the CinemaSummeet in Cologne, Germany, I for the first time directed with a team of camera men, actors and supportive staff the production of two short films. This experience made me realize that with the facilitation and participatory video skills I gained over the years, it is also possible to be an effective filmdirector. I just need to have ideas, be brave and have courage. I decided to further invest time in further developing my skills as a filmmaker.
Since September 2016 I am offering full time services in facilitating participatory video storytelling, training and video/ film production aiming to visualize results, enhancing cooperation and accelerating social change for a better society
Watch video: Simon Koolwijk
Filming for MOOC 'Help there is a knowmad in my organisation?'
On the 1st December, 2016 Simon Koolwijk interviewed 5 people to make short videos for the MOOC 'Help, there is a knowmad in my organisation?' The MOOC deals about how social technologies influence the way how we learn today. The MOOC is facilicated by Joitske Hulsebosch, François Walgering and Sibrenne Wagenaar (on photo).
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The videomaking provided us an opportunity to represent ourselves!
I have met Simon almost 7 years ago while I was in high school. The great opportunity at that time was learning from the international trainers and their experience on how to build and maintain together the community. Step by step we got closer to the subject of filmmaking, In this way it gave us the opportunity to represent ourselves and show our contribution to the society we belong to. Simon has been leading the group of young people by giving his great ideas and support in order to produce and harvest the best pieces of our daily activity through the camera lens
Anna Braghis, Freelance journalist, PR writer