WAPA International and Telemis: A Partnership for Sustainable Humanitarian Impact


WAPA International and Telemis: A Partnership
for Sustainable Humanitarian Impact


For several years, WAPA International, an organization fighting against the use of child soldiers, has received valuable support from Telemis. This long-term collaboration demonstrates Telemis' commitment to humanitarian initiatives.

In this interview with Madeleine Van Den Bogaert (WAPA International), we offer you the opportunity to learn more about the activities of this organization.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us how long you've been involved with the WAPA project?

"My name is Madeleine Van Den Bogaert, and I have been working with WAPA for two years. Initially, I was hired to replace a co-founder who was moving abroad. I was responsible for fundraising and communication. This comprehensive onboarding allowed me to fully integrate into the organization. Since the co-founder's return last September, I have been in charge of project management in Colombia, in addition to fundraising and project management. My diverse background, from non-associative sectors to this one, has enriched me professionally. Joining WAPA has given real meaningto my skills and responsibilities."


What is the mission of WAPA International and what are the main goals you aim to achieve?

"Our mission is to combat the use of child soldiers and facilitate their reintegration into communities without stigmatization. We have three main goals: to raise public awareness about this issue that affects about 300,000 children in 23 countries, to exert political pressure to influence laws and end impunity, and to raise funds to finance our programs.

We work with local partners in affected countries to implement reintegration programs. From Belgium, with a team of five members (soon to be six), we use online communication platforms to monitor the progress of our projects and organize field missions to meet the beneficiaries and assess the impact of our actions."


What inspired the founding of WAPA?

"Véronique and Solveig, the co-founders of WAPA, met twenty years ago at SOS Children's Villages. During their missions, they noticed that former child soldiers needed specific support for their trauma. Motivated by an entrepreneurial spirit, they founded WAPA alongside their jobs, working evenings and weekends. After three or four years, they were able to fully dedicate themselves to the organization.


Their first project in Uganda lasted ten years. During the first fiscal year, they raised 25,000 €. Today, WAPA reaches nearly 900,000 €, a testament to its growth. The project in Uganda was successfully completed, an important milestone for the organization."


Can you give examples of significant initiatives or projects implemented by WAPA?

"Our projects are currently focused on Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In Colombia, we work with the Corporación Projectarte, which organizes art and sports workshops in Medellin and Cali. These offer alternatives to violence and help children develop self-confidence and psychosocial skills (cognitive, emotional, and social).

In the DRC, our local partner manages the entire process, from sensitizing armed groups to reintegrating children, often without state support. The demobilized children receive basic support and are either reintegrated into their community or placed in transit camps. In Belgium, we diversify our funding through contacts with various stakeholders and organize fundraising events to support our initiatives."



Can you explain the roles of volunteers and supporters within WAPA and how they can participate in your activities in various ways?

"We are a team of five members, soon to be six, but we can't do everything alone. We need people who are touched by our cause to support us. Volunteers help us at events, and one volunteer manages our accounting and administrative tasks. We also welcome interns for regular help in the office. Our ambassadors, like Jacques Borlée and Alia Cardyn, play a crucial role by putting their image at the service of WAPA. Support can be financial or skill-based, with some companies providing their employees to help us. Even a small action, like sharing our cause on social media, can have a big impact. We can count on about ten volunteers annually, and it's easy to join us by contacting us via email (wapa@wapainternational.org) or phone (+32(0)497 78 20 28). We encourage anyone interested to reach out to us."


How does WAPA collaborate with other organizations, governments, or communities? What are the goals of these collaborations?

"Our collaboration with government agencies, communities, and international organizations is essential for our programs. For example, the Belgian government funds our program in the DRC, providing critical oversight and financial support.

At the same time, we are encouraged to partner with other actors, whether non-governmental, international, or national. These collaborations can take various forms, depending on shared interests. We work with Suisscontact to offer vocational training opportunities to our young beneficiaries in the DRC. In Colombia, we seek collaborations with universities, theaters, and cinemas to enrich the experiences of our beneficiaries. We are constantly looking for creative ways to create synergies with organizations that share our values and missions."


You mentioned all these partners, all the organizations involved in your projects, and so on. What can you say about support in Belgium?

"In Belgium, we have financial partners (companies and foundations), to whom we offer what we can in return and who see a benefit in supporting us, partners who provide their skills or services, and partners in the form of in-kind donations, who offer their products for free. We also have collaborations with sports clubs that host us for our events and people who help us expand our network by inviting us to various corporate networks and allowing us to present WAPA. All these collaborations are crucial for the development of WAPA to increase awareness and visibility. Our collaboration with the Croix Rouge, for example, has allowed us to structure the content of our awareness workshops in schools and adapt our interventions to the needs of the students by creating the necessary materials both physically and online."



Can you provide examples of partnerships or collaborations with companies, foundations, or individuals that support the organization? We touched on this topic earlier, but could you elaborate?

"We have financial partnerships with foundations for specific programs, such as the UEFA Foundation for Children, which funds our sports program in Colombia, and Air France, which supports our initiatives. We also mobilize a community of about twenty companies to finance our annual Charidy campaign, with a goal of 130,000 €, of which 65,000 € comes from companies that match individual contributions from individuals. Telemis is an example of a participant in this fundraising campaign. We try to raise awareness and involve a broad audience to amplify our impact in the community."


On an annual basis, what is the estimated amount that a partnership brings in?

"We welcome donations from companies of all sizes. For 'Mid Tiers' donors (250 € to 1,999 €), we offer symbolic recognition on our year-end fundraising platform.

From 2,000 €, companies benefit from extended visibility with our community of 5,000 people. Additional benefits are offered for donations of 5,000 €, 10,000 €, and 20,000 €, such as free participation in our events and awareness workshops about former child soldiers.

Our awareness workshops in companies encourage discussions on crucial topics such as the recruitment of child soldiers. With a financial contribution of 20,000 € per year, you can accompany us to the field in the DRC or Colombia, where you will discover the extraordinary resilience of the children and renew your faith in humanity."


How did this partnership with Telemis come about?

"That was well before my arrival, but I did my research nonetheless. So, at the time, the meeting took place with Véronique and Marie. Marie worked with us until about two and a half years ago when she left to work directly in the field with our partners. She made her mark at WAPA, particularly by creating the WAPA Football League nine years ago. She was very involved with us. So, for this meeting, Véronique and Marie were invited to dine at a company that was organising a networking dinner with local business leaders. Stephane Ketelaer, CEO of Telemis, was seated at the table with Marie and Véronique.

The contact was established at that moment, and as I see it, all our connections with companies are a matter of networking, personal relationships, and encounters. This is what makes our relationships with companies so special—the bond we have been able to create with the individuals who represent these companies. The meeting with Telemis took place in 2018. The first contribution from Telemis was in 2019, and I believe it is in your policy to provide increasing support. It started small, then grew over the years, from €250 to €2000 since 2021."

"This also strengthens our bonds, as we organize an annual lunch to thank companies and donors. We try to expand this community during these lunches and present our campaigns and WAPA developments. We also provide a report on the use of the funds, which is important to us to show everyone who helps us the impact of their contributions. Stephane participates every year."


Can you give concrete examples of how Telemis has contributed to these efforts?

"During the campaign, spreading the word about our actions was an important contribution. Without this, our network would have remained limited. Telemis' contribution to our Charidy campaign of 130,000 € supports our projects on the ground and finances the necessary activities for their implementation as well as our administrative costs. Sometimes it is paradoxical that some institutional donors restrict their contribution to personnel costs, which are essential for designing the programs and logistics. Therefore, we had to organize independent fundraising campaigns to co-finance these aspects."


What advice would you give to individuals and organizations interested in supporting WAPA through philanthropy or sponsorship? And for what reasons?

"Apart from the 'why', it's about everyone's ability to contribute in their own way. Every action counts, whether it's a small financial donation, likes and shares on social media, participating in our events as a team, or volunteering. Every action, big or small, can have a valuable impact, crossing the boundaries of the cause and enriching our lives in various ways. An action never remains isolated; it can cause a butterfly effect and lead to beneficial consequences beyond expectations."


You have certainly piqued my interest. Would you like to add anything else?

"We sincerely thank you for your support. It is a recognition for the entire WAPA team. Your commitment goes far beyond financial support; it represents worldwide support from people who are there for us, who go further. Your loyalty is invaluable; it gives us incredible energy to keep going. Being able to count on Telemis is a real advantage for us. Some partners can sometimes cause anxiety when they withdraw from the partnership annually, but your consistency is a luxury we greatly appreciate. We are truly happy to have you as a partner; it is a security that reassures and motivates us. Thank you for this stability and renewed trust."


It's true; everything is primarily based on a feeling, a perception. When we share the same values and projects, we know that real mutual interest and trust are created. And I think we can conclude here?

« Perfect ! » 



Practical Information:

If you wish to contact WAPA to share your ideas, participate in an event, or make a donation:


Rue de Rixensart 22
1332 Genval

Tel: +32(0)497 78 20 28
E-mail : wapa@wapainternational.org