'Dichtbij': Troy's totes for freedom


Today is Dutch Liberation Day. It’s a day to commemorate our freedoms, our right to be who we want to be, say what we want to say and believe in what we want to believe in.

For Troy Hurkens, an active volunteer in the human rights sector and talented poem writer, this year’s Liberation Day feels more significant than ever.

Over the past weeks, Troy has been selling tote bags printed with a poem titled ‘dichtbij’ or in English ‘close by’. For every bag sold, Troy has donated the funds to our mission at Movement On The Ground.

For Troy, the poem on her bag feels so synonymous with the meaning behind Liberation Day, and so she wants to use the day as a platform to further spread her message of hope and humanity. 

Curious to find out more about her talent and her connection to the refugee crisis, we spoke with Troy about her passion for poem writing, her hope for humanity and why Liberation Day holds great meaning to her.

Why does the refugee crisis hold meaning for you?

I’m an active human rights volunteer in the Netherlands. I have volunteered for Amnesty International and for two years in a row have participated in helping to organise their Women’s Day in Breda. I believe that refugees are an important group of people when it comes to human rights abuses. I was a volunteer also for Buddy2Buddy. This is an organisation that’s matching refugees and people who were born in the Netherlands. Like a buddy system for support. In my life, I am always thinking about people who need extra help and support.

Why did you decide to start creating and selling tote bags featuring your poem ‘dichtbij’ for Movement On The Ground?

When corona came to the Netherlands, the first thing I thought was; “How the hell are they going to cope with this in refugee camps?” We have the luxury to keep some social distance and wash our hands when we feel like. But not everyone is in that position and I immediately became worried for the livelihood of people living in camps. So I decided to do something about it. 

I don’t have much money myself, but I have a talent to make money with. I know people like my poems, so I made one about corona and printed it on a tote bag. When people are allowed to go out again, people can show [with their tot bag] that there was a time when the world showed how beautiful it is whilst keeping a little distance.

What is the meaning behind the poem? 

The name I use for making poems is 'dichtbij' in English it means, ‘close by’. I also chose this name as it’s a bit of a play on words in Dutch and my poems are always about things that are close to me. Right now, the thing close to my heart is this initiative. That’s why I call this project distance from close by.

Why are you using Liberation Day as a platform to sell your tote bags?

Liberation Day is the day where we in the Netherlands were freed from war 75 years ago. We were freed from fear and given the freedom to live the life we wanted. We were free to go wherever we wanted. But especially now, that’s no possible for everyone and I am conscious of that. I’ve never had to fight for my freedom and I’ve never had to suffer. I know how lucky I am and I know how easy it can be to help others when you have your own freedom. This tote bag, what it symbolises and the donations that come from it, is symbolic of Liberation Day. I want this bag to contribute to giving greater freedom to those in the world who need it.

Interested in purchasing a tote bag? You can get in contact with Troy directly by heading to her Instagram page, dichtbij_gedichtjes.

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