Student Award 2018: “I really want to help those at the bottom”

Student Award 2018


Until she was nineteen, Julie Ann Goodfellow slept on the floor in a slum area in the Philippines. When there was high tide, the house filled with water from the stinking river into which the slaughterhouse dumped its refuse. “Then we slept on a plastic chair. When I did eventually get a bed, I slept on the floor. I thought the bed was too soft.”

She went to school and received financial help from various channels to study. Today, a mere ten years later, she has a master's in Strategic Marketing from Maastricht University (UM) and now she in turn helps poor girls from the Philippine slums. This week she received the Student Prize 2018 – which includes an amount of 1,000 euro – for her own foundation.
“People can't imagine where I'm from,” Goodfellow says. “When they think of the Philippines they think of beautiful beaches and luxurious hotels. When I brought my Dutch boyfriend to the slums where I grew up, he couldn't believe what he saw. It is very dangerous there. Most people are unemployed and have nothing; they steal or fight for food. Girls marry young and are often pregnant by the age of sixteen. A man is their best chance of getting away from the slums, but mostly they get left behind with their babies. It is a vicious circle. It is my aim to cut through all of this.”

She says that education is the best means. With financial help from the Joana Foundation by Dutchman Berry van Ewijk, she managed to complete secondary school in the Philippines in 2006 along with 49 other underprivileged children. Goodfellow passed with an honourable mention. Reason enough for Van Ewijk’s wife Louise Schoolderman to pay for her college fees in the Philippines. She graduated in 2010 and worked for a bank in Manila for six months, but wanted to continue her studies in order to help others. Van Ewijk set up the Goodfellow Foundation so that she could attend university in the Netherlands. She took up lodgings in their house in The Hague and travelled by train to Utrecht every day for the bachelor's of Economics and Business Economics. That is where she learned her first Dutch words. “I read articles in Metro and asked my foster parents the words I didn't know.” She had to pay for her master's herself, so after her bachelor's, “to gain experience and save some money” she worked for a while. She completed her master's of Strategic Marketing at the UM last January.

After her bachelor's in 2015, she took over the chairwomanship of the Goodfellow Foundation. In addition to her job, she spends about ten hours a week carrying out her duties. At the moment the foundation supports six Philippine girls. Goodfellow: “There is a strict selection process. Firstly it is very important that they cannot pay for it themselves; I really want to help those at the bottom. In addition they have to be motivated; it is four hard years of studying. Oh, and they have to be female. The Philippine culture is very paternalistic; men are given more chances, better jobs, et cetera. If I help women, they will get better jobs so I will be contributing towards equality between men and women in the Philippines.”

Supporting a girl costs approximately 1,800 euro, for everything: school fees for four years, shelter and food. She receives daily updates form her pupils. In order to collect money she organises events, such as sponsor walks, but she also depends on donations. Every month she transfers 100 euro from her salary to the foundation. “My boyfriend transfers 50 euro every month. Of course he ‘must’. But I also have girlfriend obligations, ha ha; I regularly go to watch him play in the brass band. Just joking, I really like it.”

Another 100 euro from her salary goes to her parents in the Philippines. Thanks to Goodfellow they no longer live in the slums. “I help with the rent and emergency expenses. I am saving so I can buy them a house.”Goodfellow has been in the Netherlands for eight years now and speaks to her parents every day. “I would really like to see them more often, but tickets easily run to a thousand euro. My parents would rather that I spend that money on them. It is painful, but I get it. They are so poor.”

“It is my dream to help many more girls from the Philippines. That works best from the Netherlands, I want to stay here. When I was studying in the Philippines I earned about 20 euro per month working in a fast-food restaurant, I can earn that in two hours here. I am also looking into projects with young underprivileged women in Europe, but for now I am focusing on the Philippines.”

Student Award 2018: “I really want to help those at the bottom”