Centro Cultural de Hispanohablantes (Hispanic Cultural Centre) is an NGO dedicated to integrating and empowering the Spanish-speaking migrant community in Amsterdam, with a special focus on the elderly and the women. The foundation was established in 1992. Its main source of funding are subventions granted by the Amsterdam City Government (Department of Social Development).
The CCH has been created to serve all members of the Spanish speaking community residing in Greater Amsterdam, who come from many different countries, such as: Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.
We also receive and assist Spanish speakers from Morocco and Dutch Antilles, as well as many people with dual nationality, including a significant number of Dutch citizens.
The great diversity represented by the users of CCH gives much dynamism to the organisation.
The social interactions which occur in our space are enriched by this cultural variety.
The Foundation is also committed to encouraging mutual recognition and cultural exchange between the Hispanic, Dutch and other ethnic communities in Amsterdam.
The activities organised by the Centre are designed according to the demand and needs of its users.
The majority of people who work at CCH are volunteers, but it also counts with permanent staff members who perform administrative tasks and project management.
In addition, we receive EVS European volunteers, Erasmus Mobility students, and Leonardo da Vinci interns from different European countries.
The target groups
The target group of CCH are Spanish speakers living in Amsterdam and its surroundings.
The CCH is not committed to any particular ideological, political or religious beliefs.
All activities of the CCH are open to everyone.
Judging from the existing data, we can anticipate that the number of people with a Hispanic descent who live in Amsterdam is around 10.000. Not all of them are foreigners. In fact, many of them may be Dutch citizens who were already born in the Netherlands.
Not all Spanish speakers in the Netherlands are foreigners nor all Spanish speakers in the Netherlands are registred.
People from Puerto Rico have an American passport, and many Latin Americans are not included in this statistic, as they come to the Netherlands with a European passport (for example, many Argentines are in possession of an Italian passport). There are also many Spanish speaking among Antilleans, Arubans, Moroccans, Americans, and people with various other nationalities.
Within the Hispanic community are women and newcomers those who need more support.
For many established immigrants, mostly elderly, the language remains a stumbling block to their integration. When they came to the Netherlands there were no integration programs as is currently the case.
The lack of information about mainly social services and all types of procedures in the Netherlands is the great problem so, the importance is therefore the provision of information on various topics in their own language. They also, of course, need for social contacts and inspiring activities that enable them in a creative way get in touch with other peers.
Women have in recent years adopted various roles and should combine with the traditional female roles (wife, mother..)
Combining these roles requires a lot of perseverance. This can give a sense of victory but also bring the necessary frustrations with it.
Emancipation and integration of women in Dutch society are processes that possibly within the family can cause problems.
The expectations of the partner and children care sometimes make this adapting process more difficult.
Because women are the first teachers of children, it is also important that they project a positive self-image to their children.
If they achieve this, they can transfer it to their children.
Newcomers have a great need for guidance in their integration process.
Some newcomers have an integration program offered (eg the ROC Amsterdam), but they often have to wait months to start it.
A year later, when the language course is completed, they have learned a lot about Dutch language, but they can not speak well generally.
Therefore the CCH also gives Dutch lessons and organizes conversation groups and language exchange with the help of volunteers.
For other newcomers is even harder because they are not offered integration programs.
The CCH annually receives about 3000 visitors from the above groups.
The foundation is located at the Willem Schouten 1A, in West district.
Other organizations representing the interests of specific Spanish-or Portuguese-speaking communities also they are allowed to use the facilities.
The CCH receives a grant from the
>Social Development Department of the City of Amsterdam.
Several private funds are also asked to give financial support to our one-off projects.
So far, various funds awarded us donations:
>Stichting het R.C. Maagdenhuis
>Stichting Hulp na Onderzoek
>R.C. Oude Armen Kantoor
>Stichting Sluyterman van Loo
>Nationale Fonds Ouderenhulp
Also the province of North Holland and the West District of Amsterdam support our projects.
And the European Commission through the National EVS agency in the Netherlands, the Nederlands Jeugd Instituut (Dutch Youth Institute).
All activities of the CCH are aimed and intended to the improvement of the personal and social development of the Hispanic people in Amsterdam.
The objective of the CCH is that people could feel good, and live with others harmoniously.
In addition the integration problems, some migrants have to deal with some unwanted emotional reactions.
Sometimes the language barrier and the cultural differences have played an important role in the relations between incomers and the other people.
People who can not understand what others are doing or saying, can easily become irritated and they can develop aloof or even hostile attitude.
A good command of the Dutch language is the basic tool for better integration and participation in Dutch society.
It is also necessary to find the Dutch and Amsterdam procedures and regulations that the incomers must know.
That's why the CCH information and information about all kinds of things and is always in contact with many institutions and organizations.
All activities offered at the CCH are socio-cultural and educational in nature and are related to education, information, and meeting personal and social growth.
The activities generally fall under the following headings:
Meeting. For the elderly, for women and for specific communities.
Cultural and festive events.
Social Services. Information. Helpdesk. Consultation.
Language. Dutch as a second language. Conversation groups. English courses.
Computer and internet lessons, especially for the elderly.
Movement and relaxation techniques.
Art workshops. Music, dance, theater, painting, ceramics, photography.
Visit to institutions, organizations, museums, etc.
Creativity Development and Social Skills.
Art exhibition coming from Spain: TALLER 26
The world at Mercatorplein
In 2012, we launched the project Cooking Together, Living Together in order to tackle the problem of a generation gap in Dutch society. The elderly and the young people live alongside each other but there is hardly any encounter between these two groups.
The aim of this project was to enrich the lives of older people and possibly get them out of their isolation by offering them creative activities to share with the young.
Old age is often used as a synonym for loss and decay, especially in Western society and developed countries where the qualities of youth, physical strength and competitiveness are considered to be key to success and happiness.
However, getting old is a natural process, over the course of which many things change in our lives. These issues can be easily dealt with, if we know how to do it. Certain changes related to physical, psychological and social health can be kept under control.
This project aimed to help the participants to learn how to prevent memory problems and how to deal with difficulties, if such were to occur. The target group were the elderly of Southern European descent (all the activities were held in Dutch). It was implemented in partnership with ZEG (Southern European Communities) and CABO (Centre for Policy Research on the Elderly Migrants).
In 2009 we carried out a project called Interactive Civic Integration (InterActief Inburgeren)
The project was designed for the board members and staff of grassroots immigrant organisations, and it consisted of:
> Studying the properties and communication codes of different cultures.
> Understanding the key aspects of Dutch culture and challenges they may cause to immigrants arriving in the Netherlands.
> Stimulating the organizations of migrants / refugees to enhance the participation of their users and promote among them a proactive approach in the integration process.
> Creating a communication platform for people who offer assistance to the newcomers and who are from different cultural backgrounds, and trying to understand and overcome the differences.
This project was designed and implemented in collaboration with the Volunteer Centre Amsterdam (Vrijwilligers Centrale Amsterdam) and the CConsultants for Intercultural Communication (Consultants Interculturele Communicatie) organisations.
During the course and a train-the-trainer session, the participants received advice and support for organising their own training courses on Interactive Civic Integration at their workplace.
In 2008, we organised activities for women in the framework of a project called Female + Migrant = Energy + Creativity (Vrouw + Migrant = Kracht + Kunst.)
These activities provided opportunity for:
> Encounter - physical and symbolic - between women representing different ethnic groups that live in Amsterdam and its surroundings;
> Exchange of art and creative expression;
> Debate on the position, role and contribution of migrant women in the Netherlands, and in comparison with the situation of Dutch women;
> Deepening the dialogue, an exchange of experiences, feelings and different points of view presented by the Dutch and immigrant women.
Through organising these meetings, we wanted to promote a mutual respect and understanding, introduce women to the pleasures of a multicultural encounter and thus strengthen the social cohesion in a positive, relaxed and creative way.
Between 2006 and 2010, the projects Support for Hispanic Women (Ondersteuning voor Spaanstalige Vrouwen) and Women With A Mission (Vrouwen Met Een Missie) were carried out.
These projects aimed to achieve the following goals:
- Raising awareness of one's own limitations
- Increasing the self-esteem
- Expansion an extension of thought processes
- Improvement of communication skills and assertiveness
- Improvement of social skills
- Improvement of organisational skills
During the second part, the participants received personal guidance and coaching with the aim to develop their own project.
From mid 2004 till late 2005, we ran a project called A Better Life (Een Beter Leven).
This project consisted of thematic meetings, workshops and other activities that were focused on:
1. Creating a social network which provided the participants with an opportunity to share their problems and make valuable contacts.
2. Promoting self-reliance by providing professional advice on how to understand better ones own situation.
3. Promoting active participation in the society through offering information and education.
4. Providing skills to prevent to deal with stress, enabling the participants to improve the quality of their personal, familiar and social relationships.
In 2004, the project called Hispanic Elderly Online (Spaanstalige Ouderen Online) was completed.
This project involved:
1. Creating a web page in Spanish with information for the elderly people in Amsterdam regarding the services available for them, as well as social security, housing, health care, financial and legal issues, and containing links to other relevant organisations.
2. Developing an IT skills course in Spanish, which would enable the elderly people to use the internet in order to access the information they may need.