l am Gisele Azad, I was born in Tehran, Iran. When I was 4 years old, I came to the Netherlands. For as far as I can remember, my parents were both active in receiving and supporting newcomers. They did so mainly through art. For me it has always been clear that I was going to do the same as soon as I could.
When I was 12 years old, I started volunteering in the asylum seeker's centre Ter Apel. I was immediately gripped. Each individual came with a unique story and everyone looked beautiful in his or her own way. This period taught me a lot about self-acceptance. I could see the beauty in the children and young people I worked with at the centre, but I wasn't able to see my own beauty. I did everything I could to look as Dutch as possible.
Volunteering with asylum seekers lead me to a tipping point: I let go of all Western beauty ideals and decided to truly be myself. This meant embracing my thick eyebrows, no more dying my hair blonde and stop bleaching my arm hair. Through this experience, my passion was born: promoting natural beauty through creative concepts and creating art projects in asylum centres.
I'm a huge fan of MAIWE, as the brand totally matches with my philosophy. The story, the production process and what the products do to my skin are absolutely right. It's the perfect natural beauty routine for me.
I have been working in Ter Apel for over 10 years and at Stichting de Vrolijkheid for a total of 18 years, creating numerous art projects in collaboration with young people, children and their parents.
Currently, Ter Apel is overcrowded, and art projects seem to be far from a priority. I still hope that the work Stichting de Vrolijkheid does can create a bit of fun, self-expression and a moment of peace amongst all the chaos.