As HSA continues to grow and evolve we take on more and more specialist, talented people. Say hello to Brooke Pruiksma, financial genius and English teaching extraordinaire!
What is your role in HSA and what does it entail?
I am the finance officer for HSA. My main role is to keep track of financial transactions (incoming donations and operational expenses).
What was your motivation for coming to Lesvos?
When I was five years old, I asked for a ‘poor house’ for Christmas so I could play with the orphans on Christmas. I started my own fundraisers and awareness programs in high school in response to the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. I dreamed of joining the peace corps, I wanted to go to Africa. I wanted to help. Unfortunately my activism slowly diminished into Twitter debates and Facebook shares once ‘real life’ had me in it’s grasp. I was disconnected and my passion was clouded; I lost hope.
I began working globally for a large corporation in 2015. I was comfortable. I had my car, my own house, a stable income, and I was travelling. What could I possibly complain about?
At night, I would watch the refugee crisis echo from my 50 inch television from the comfort of my sofa, violent images magnified through a giant glass of red wine. In the morning, I would listen to numbers of death tolls and sunken boats boomerang off the leather interior of my Mercedes. Drunkenly arguing on Twitter was the best I could do, or so I thought.
My biggest motivator to leave my life behind and make a difference was my partner. The beginning of our relationship was largely spent apart because he was in Lesvos volunteering at Kara Tepe and Moria. He told me stories of all the wonderful people he met and the impact they made on him; The fearless and talented death metal musician from Syria, the passionate and caring journalist from Greece, and the loving Team Leader from Germany. He was inspired.
It was then, I realised that it’s not about the impact you believe you can make on someone’s life. It’s about the impact these people make on you.
What is the most inspiring thing you’ve seen on camp?
The most inspiring thing I’ve seen on camp is the resilience and desire to learn new things. I was blown away by the number of residents that spoke little to no English when they arrived at Kara Tepe. Now, they are able to have full conversations with people from all over the world. Some are learning Greek, German, and English!
What is one thing you would take with you in a disaster situation?
TEA! I was living in England for long enough to become addicted to English tea. I see how much comfort the hot tea that we serve at Kara Tepe brings the residents.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about donating to HSA?
Obviously, I would say do it, big or small! I think some people may feel that if they make a small donation, it isn’t enough. Even five dollars can pay for new markers to use in the classroom — these things make a huge impact!