Trailblazer – Desiree Vlekken
There is a reason why 4Get Me Not, an NGO for Alzheimer’s Awareness, has been lauded as one of the most compelling organizations in the Middle East.
The organization has raised awareness on a global health problem and a stigmatized health issue in the region. Since its establishment in 2013, the association has continued their advocacy and managed to built a good support system via both the public and private sector in the UAE. Desiree has also produced over a hundred CSR events on Alzheimer’s for seniors, students, Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers. Recently, the group has also done three stage plays performed by actual seniors without any theater experience. 4Get Me Not has also organized an Experiential Tour for 10 senior expats in Dubai to visit and enjoy the Philippines.
When it comes to lasting legacy, Desiree wishes to impart an important message through 4Get Me Not – that it’s important to take care of those in their golden years, and their families, a genuine human response towards seniors and a reflection of the Filipino tradition of caring for one’s elders. She also says that 4Get Me Not seeks to revitalize among younger generations and across nationalities the feeling of respect for seniors and appreciation of their contributions to the community.
Alzheimer’s Awareness Advocate
Desiree is an example of how a single voice can resonate amongst thousands, when powered by the earnest desire to create positive change. She is the Founder & CEO of 4get-me-not Alzheimer’s, a non-profit organization raising awareness on Alzheimer’s disease in the UAE. Through her advocacy, Desiree has been able to shed a greater light on the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in the region, and give countless families the knowledge they need to cope with this immensely challenging health condition.
In August of 2016, Desiree attended the Alzheimer’s University in London. This brings 4get-me-not one step closer to becoming a member of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) UK and gaining an even bigger platform for raising awareness. Of her year’s most triumphant moment, Desiree says, “Throughout these years our volunteer base keeps on increasing. This is a milestone considering when we started it was only a handful. We have a loyal volunteer group from SCOPH-EMSS. I met them as pre-med students and when they graduated as doctors they still continue to volunteer! We also have teen volunteers from Ambassador School.”
Her advice to Filipinos who want to make a mark in the Middle East: “I have been a resident of the UAE for 17 years. This is like my second home. But throughout these years, I’ve seen a lot of Filipinos who come then go back. This is sad to know because opportunities abound over here. It’s up to us to grab them with two hands and persevere. Success has no shortcuts.
Photo by Alex Callueng; Photography Assistant – Bethoven Filomeno Special thanks to – Giordano, Nikon, Liali Jewellery, Lulu, Mitsubishi and Western Union.