“As for learning about me, unlike Google, mail & getting to know a person in such matter takes time. Hopefully you are in this for the long haul.”
– Clinton in his first letter to Renate, September 2010.
My first letter to Clinton was sent somewhere in 2010. Partially out of curiosity, partly because I was studying law and was interested in human rights. Little did I know that this would end up in a friendship that still remains here today. I think that somewhere in 2012 I first decided to go to Texas to visit Clinton. I still remember me telling Clinton at this first visit that there was little for me to do for him as a Dutch Law student. But at my first visit, I also spoke to an attorney in the visitation room who told me that it was possible to do an internship at law firms that help people on death row. As a result of this, I ended up doing two internships in New Orleans, Louisiana, and helped people who where convicted to death. A life changing decision.
After returning back to The Netherlands, I felt restless. I felt like I needed to do something, share my story, and help Clinton. I ended up writing Jessica Villerius, who caught up on Clinton’s story and made his first documentary; Code Rood: Deal met de dood. Other documentaries would follow. But particularly this first documentary was seen by many of you and it was in fact also the start of the Clinton Young Foundation. Because after the documentary aired on national television, I was contacted by lots of people offering their help. I encouraged people to start writing to Clinton, because this is one of the best ways to help: be a friend. And to blankly put it into words: another way to help him is to donate money (you can still do so!). To make this possible, I started the Clinton Young Foundation in 2014.
Merel started writing Clinton after seeing the documentary. And you may call it a coincidence or not: Clinton ‘introduced’ her to me. Merel also went to New Orleans to do a similar internship as I did, and after she came back, I realized that I had to have her as part of the foundation. With the help of Merel, the foundation grew and grew. And around Clinton’s execution date in October 2016, we worked together for days and nights, flew to Texas together to work from there and fight even harder and luckily we were able to get Clintons execution date stopped, with the help of many others.
In the last couple of years, the foundation has expanded tremendously. The foundation is now a group of seven volunteers, who work hard to get Clinton his fair trial. And we are getting closer to our goal! That being said, there is still lots of work to be done. With a heavy heart, I do feel like this is my time to step down as the chairman of the Clinton Young Foundation. A couple of years ago I already decided that I didn’t want to do media interviews anymore, since I don’t feel comfortable to be on live television and speak for millions of people (my interview with Eva Jinek on Dutch television was my last one). I am stepping down as a chairman due to personal reasons and the only way I feel comfortable doing this, is the fact that I know that the foundation is in it’s best hands with our current board members; Anne-Sophie and Merel. That I am stepping down as a chairman doesn’t mean that I stop fighting for Clinton, because ‘I am here for the long haul’. I will continue to fight as his friend but also in a different role, as a member of the advisory board of the Clinton Young Foundation.