My name is Jaime de Zwart, 36 years old, born in Columbia, in The Netherlands adopted when I was three months old, living together in Haarlem and in the possession of a wonderful baby of 2,5 years old.
I have encountered several personal problems at an early age to deal with. My adoption process was my first personal identity problem. Dyslexia and ADHD were the second and third personal problem that was experienced in my aging process. I have created a backlog at school because of my dyslexia and ADHD and teachers in the 90’s could not yet deal with these problems. The result was that I was an extremely busy boy who did not want to learn and have a meaningful future, as noted by different teachers in my school time. As an extra result I have developed an “anxiety to fail” in my examination period at school.
The following years has been experienced as wasted time, which was not necessary when there would have been professional guidance and help, which would have channeled his dyslexia and ADHD. This is the main reason why I want to work with youth in my professional career and help the youth to channel their personal problems.
At the age of 21 I had a wild life with lots of parties, lots of money and lots of so called “friends”. But I felt that something was missing and I experienced no happiness. My friends around me pointed me that I was missing my own identity. In my quest for my mother in Columbia, I finally found her after 1,5 years, which gave me a purpose in life. From that moment on I decided to change my life completely. The poverty and waste in the streets in Columbia struck me and I wanted to do something about it in the future. I have learned that I was creative in solving these daily problems and that I thought in opportunities and options.
I returned to the Netherlands and my career drive lead me towards the Event Industry. In four years I have built up my experience to set up events as a production leader. I was passionate in my choice for the event industry, which resulted in a steep learning process and a co-operation with large organizations and businesses. In this busy period in time I have experienced the fact that large amounts of new materials, which were used in the event campaigns, were scrapped and thrown in a waste bin.
In a world with not enough raw materials, a deteriorating environment and major environmentally polluting industry I did not understand why there has to be so much waste after an event campaign. All the waste of the different event campaigns could be used to build a complete village with houses.
The next 6 years I have worked for the Festival Industry and the same problem arose and lots of materials were scrapped and thrown away. Containers filled with beautiful good quality wood that could be re-used. In the present time wooden waste is used to be burned in the waste factory, instead of re-using the wood for new products and extending the lifecycle of the wood, which results in preventing CO2 emissions. The industry calculated to use their décor for one event and budgeted the disposal costs of their event. Unbelievable in my thoughts.
I decided to do something about this above described situation. I could write plans, I had ideas and the network and instead of writing and planning I just started to DO something about it. I bought a bus with the word AFWERKING on it. This word could be interpreted in many different ways and the imagination of the people who saw the bus initiates connotations. I rented a warehouse of 500 m2 without electricity. After every event campaign I collected all the waste bins with the good quality wood. Wood is raw material and equals gold!! Besides the containers at events and festivals I also collected the wood from other waste containers in the streets. I saw money on the floor in the wooden piles of waste. You only have to see it that the wood can be resold and re-used. I started my research in the construction industry and different other branches and experienced that companies have waste streams of wood for which they pay to dispose these streams.
At one point I have collected so many types of wood that I had to do something with it. Because of my professional network in the festival and event industry I started to produce new decoration materials and re-used the wood for small festivals and events. I received more offers to deliver my sustainable products to other events. I received more offers to build decoration materials for festivals, which resulted in the fact that I could not do this alone.
I contacted different youth organizations in my quest for personnel in my professional production activity for the festival and event industry. I contacted municipalities and social organizations, which offered me personnel with a distance to the labor market. The group of personnel which were offered: young persons with a disability, young persons with a mental retardation, young persons who did not know what they wanted to do with their lives. These young persons wanted to work in my workshop because it was a relaxed working environment with people who needed care and attention which was given to them. I created a home base for these young persons and tried to channel their problems as I have experienced those in my life. I became an expert coach for them.
The production jobs became larger and we performed more work with more people. It was so extremely busy with the collecting and cleaning process of the wooden materials, sorting the materials and organizing the necessary transport activities. I decided that a second company had to be founded. Besides the company, HOUT (“Wood”) that collects wooden materials and cleaning it and sorting it, a new entity AFWERKING.NU arose: the production entity that produces new products for the festival and event industry.
Afwerking.nu is the existing production company. It delivers sets, decoration materials and furniture designed and made of re-used wood. Afwerking.nu delivers handmade, sustainable and durable good quality products to the customers’ wishes and a tailor made design. We make products for festivals, events, companies and individuals. The young personnel who work for Afwerking.nu are coached and supervised by experts from different branches: welders, set designers, carpenters, furniture makers and creative designers.