Voices That Care

Say Hello to ... Denise

Every single person in Care2Run’s ecosystem is essential, and we’ve grown so much in three years thanks to all the different individuals who’ve played a part in getting us to where we are.

It is for this reason that we aim to hand this section over to our people – our participants, coaches, volunteers, parents, friends and loved ones – so they can tell you what Care2Run means to them.

This week we say hello to …..  Denise Temmink, Care2Run’s pioneer Programme Leader who continues to assist and guide us from her home in the Netherlands.

IN 1993, shortly after a massive earthquake hit Flores in Indonesia, Denise found herself working on the disaster-hit island. Then a community nurse, Denise first set up base in Yogyakarta before moving to Maumere, Flores’ largest and worst-affected city.

She spent about a year, working in hospitals there, before heading home to the Netherlands in 1994.

Six years later, Denise was in Southeast Asia again. And while she didn’t realise it at the time, the decision to return to this part of the world, this time to Kuala Lumpur, would set her on a path that led to Care2Run.

To Denise, who now lives in the Netherlands, the time she spent as Care2Run Programme Leader, working hand-in-hand with the founding team, was extremely rewarding.

She tells us: “The team we had – Prem, Mee Leng, Steve, Eric – everyone gave so much. It is not often that you meet people who are willing to put so much of their time and energy and even money into something that won’t benefit them but someone else … When you have a connection with people like that, you don’t just forget it when you are no longer in constant contact. And then, of course, there is the amazing work Care2Run did and continues to do.”

We’ll let Denise tell you the rest of her story.

Hi there, Denise. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do now in the Netherlands?

I work in the healthcare sector with a semi-government organisation which funds research in healthcare in the Netherlands. I was originally a nurse, and now focus on funding projects that lead to the professionalisation of Dutch nurses. My PhD was in the field and focussed on how health care professionals can collaborate to improve health care outcomes.

Did you complete your PhD when you were in Malaysia?

I actually completed it just before we left the Netherlands. My husband’s job gave us the opportunity to move to Malaysia in 2000, and we stayed until 2017. My oldest son was six months old when we moved to Malaysia, our second is a PJ boy, born in Damansara Specialist Hospital and my youngest was born in Norway, when we stayed there. Malaysia is where my children grew up. We frequently talk about our time in KL, miss our friends, the food and climate.

How did you get involved with Care2Run?

I used to run with Prem and one day he asked me if I had time and interest to help Care2Run grow. That’s how it started.

It must have been very challenging in the early days trying to get Care2Run off the ground.

It has always been challenging but I think Prem and I worked very well together. It was the same with the other people in the team. Working with good people like Prem, Eric, Steve and Mee Leng always made it easier. Also, I think me being a foreigner in Malaysia helped open certain doors.

Was the power of sports to affect real change in the lives of differently-abled always obvious to you?

Yes. But not just with kids. Sports has a positive effect on adults as well. It’s easy to see how just being outdoors changes a person’s day and outlook. Sports helps people be more active and sociable. I had a very different upbringing growing up in Europe to the one you see in urban Malaysia. I played outdoors. I ran, I fell. Children need to learn by playing, falling down and getting up again. This doesn’t tend to be the life of children growing up in cities.

You must have seen many young people benefit from Care2Run’s programmes throughout your time here.

There have been so many. And not just children, but parents as well. When we worked on the programme at Monash University, for example, there were so many parents and children whom I saw benefit from the activities and approaches. There were also student volunteers who benefitted from their involvement in the program. Also their self-esteem was boosted by joining Care2Run. The programmes show how people thrive in a non-competitive sports environment.

Do you feel that education, at least in this part of the world, places too much emphasis on academic excellence?

There is definitely a lot of emphasis on academic success. It is all about children excelling and becoming doctors and lawyers and engineers. But not all children learn the same way and not every child can be a lawyer or doctor. And that’s OK. We need chefs, mechanics, artists too.

Is the education system better in Europe?

I don’t think it’s a question of one being better than the other. I would definitely not say that the European system is better, or that the Asian system is worse. They’re different. There is a lot of emphasis on academic success as well here. And there are definitely a great number of people who fall through the cracks. However, emphasis is also placed on recognising a child’s strengths, that may not necessarily be academic, and nurturing those strengths.

Personally, what has Care2Run meant to you?

For me personally, Care2Run brought me to places in Malaysia I would not have normally had the privilege of going to. It showed me different parts of the country and its people, which wasn’t the usual expat experience. As a foreigner in another country, you sometimes tend to live in a very sheltered bubble, but Care2Run allowed me to venture beyond that and make a difference by dealing with professionals from universities, the Ministry of Education and schools when we were trying to get the programmes implemented.

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