Contributors

Board
Dorien Dierckx: Editor in chief
Cornelius Roemer: Publisher

Consultants
Sajida Altaya: Refugee Consultant

Journalists
Dorien Dierckx: writer (Belgian branch)
Emma Simkin: writer (UK branch)
Merel de Jong: writer (Dutch branch)
Wieke Vink: writer (UK branch)

Translators
Alina Agachi: translator into Romanian
Hebatullah Altaia: translator into Arabic
Sheila Cappaert: translator into Dutch
Sonja Marschke: translator into German
Caroline Morton: translator Dutch/English

Editors
Yessica Apolo: editor for English
Emma Simkin: editor for English
Sandra Kübler: editor for German
Nadine Vermeulen: editor for Dutch


Become a contributor to get your own bio. You can get involved in a number of ways!


Dorien Dierckx is co-founder, writer and editor in chief at RefuTales.

After completing her Master of Law, she did an advanced Master in Notarial Studies. Dorien finds that her educational background helps her in the fight for social justice. Equality and human rights have always been close to her heart.

To provide an intellectual foundation for her passion, she decided to pursue the interdisciplinary Master of Gender and Diversity. This course has opened her eyes to the importance of open and unequivocal debates, particulary due to the enrichment that diverse views can offer.

Learn more about Dorien on the Founder’s page.


Profile Picture of Cornelius RoemerCornelius Roemer is co-founder, translator and Publisher at RefuTales.

During his studies in Physics at Cambridge Univeristy, Cornelius was a dedicated student representative as Trustee on the University Council and President of Trinity College Students’ Union – fighting bureaucracy and inefficiency in an 800 year old institution.

Having successfully lived in many different countries, Cornelius is optimistic about the integration prospects of newly arrived refugees as long as they’re given the freedom to decide over their own lives. It is hard to reach full potential when hindered by inflexible rules and bureaucracy.

Learn more about Cornelius on the Founder’s page.


Sajida Altaya is co-founder and Refugee CProfile Foto van Sajida Altayaonsultant at RefuTales.

Sajida studies Engineering at Kiron, the university for refugees, where she also works part-time. In her spare time, she learns German and perfects her English.

Being a refugee herself, she has a wide range of experiences and constructive criticism that she wants to share with policy makers and the wider public. In this she wishes to improve the well-being of European citizens and refugees alike.

Learn more about Sajida on the Founder’s page.


Emma SiProfile Picture of Emma Simkinmkin is writer and editor of RefuTales. She grew up in England, and is currently a second year student at the University of Cambridge studying Psychology and Philosophy. Before her engagement with RefuTales, Emma was President of the NGO ‘Cambridge Student Action for Refugees (STAR)’. Cambridge STAR raises awareness of refugees’ stories, volunteers with refugees in the UK and campaigns for their rights.

Emma noticed that many people wanted to help refugees and asylum seekers but were unsure in which areas they most needed help. Emma has worked extensively as a journalist for student newspapers and began to feel frustrated by the lack of voice that refugees had in the media. She felt it was not her place to discuss the stories of refugees from an outsider perspective.

From her work with Cambridge STAR and her involvement in journalism, Emma realised that the best way to spread knowledge about how to help would be for the media to reach out to refugees themselves. This would allow the wider public to know which strategies are successful in positively impacting the lives of refugees.

When she came across RefuTales, she knew instantly that she wanted to contribute to this project as it embodied this idea. As refugees are the people who understand their own plight best, Emma joined our team to help give them a voice.

You can find out more about Emma on LinkedIn.


Merel de JongMerel de Jong is writer and head of the Netherlands branch at RefuTales. She grew up in the Netherlands and currently studies as a masterstudent Sociology at the university of Leuven. Before her current study, she studied Social Work and she worked in the child- and youth psychiatry for several years.

Throughout her travels, the interest of Merel for people with a different cultural background, religious views and a different way of life grew. This interest motivated her to start a master in Sociology, with a focus on culture and religion. She believes that it doesn’t matter what the exact reality is, but how people believe reality is. She recognizes this in the daily news and current debate about refugees. With her work for RefuTales, she wants to write an open-minded and honest portrait. She hopes by doing this to contribute to the way people look at and feel about integration of refugees within our society.

The moment Merel heard of the initiative RefuTales, she decided to connect to the project with enthusiasm. She feels honoured to talk to people on behalf of RefuTales.


Wieke Vink is a human rights lawyer and writer at RefuTales.

Wieke studied in the Netherlands, New York and South Africa and has, from a young age, been active in various (inter)national organizations in the field of human rights and international cooperation. In addition to being a graduate lawyer, she also has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She currently lives in England, where she is finishing her studies at SOAS University of London. Her focus is on international law, human rights, gender, children’s rights, migration and non-discrimination.

During her bachelor’s Wieke was the president of Utrecht’s Study Association for Conflict Studies and Human rights, which is called ‘Ubuntu’. This Southern African concept reflects her vision: that we are all connected.

Wieke loves working with children, youth and groups. In the Netherlands she gives guest lectures about politics, democracy and law for ProDemos, amongst which there are also workshops for refugees and migrants. For a short time she was also involved with De Vrolijkheid Foundation – an organisation that provides arts workshops for children who live in asylum seeker centres in the Netherlands. In addition, she runs her own business for interviews, writing and journalism; skills she gladly offers as a volunteer for RefuTales.

At RefuTales her passion for human rights, social justice and telling stories come together. She gladly goes into conversation with people to share their insights with openness and awareness.


Alina Agachi is translator into Romanian for RefuTales. She grew up in Botoșani County, Romania, and is currently a final year law student in Bucharest.

Alina is specialised in Human Rights, and in particular the interplay of the European Court of Human Rights with domestic legislation. Through her studies and extra-curricular activities—such as the International Conference on Non-discrimination and Equal Opportunities—Alina has gained a deep understanding of current challenges to human rights.

From her perspective, the European migrant crisis represents an intriguing challenge in terms of international as well as domestic policy and media scrutiny. She believes that the media can and must be used in their favour. They should help Refugees spread their stories and represent their struggles realistically.

Alina hopes that refugees’ own accounts of their experiences since arriving in Europe will shine a new and compelling light on their side of the story. Through RefuTales this can finally happen.


Hebatullah Altaia is translator into Arabic for RefuTales. As an aspiring journalist, she also plans to assist us in writing articles. Heba (pronounced Heeba) grew up in Syria and has been granted asylum in Germany after spending an interim year in Turkey. She is currently doing an intensive German course, where she is top of her class.

She is a foreign language aficionado, speaking Arabic, English and German. She even knows basic Turkish. It is her dream to have a blossoming career in her new home land, combining her love for children with her passion for photography and journalism. She plans to open a successful photography exhibition, which will ideally grow into her own gallery.

Hebatullah completed high school with an outstanding 92% and studied preschool education for one year at the University of Damascus before fleeing her country. She volunteered for almost 3 years at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, starting at the beginning of the Syrian civil war. She had a variety of responsibilities, giving psychological assistance and first aid to children in schools. All humanitarian issues are close to her heart. She loves volunteering and rendering humanitarian help, especially when it involves children.

Heba works for RefuTales with devotion. Being a refugee herself, she knows what it is like to be overwhelmed with opportunites, yet having struggles to fully integrate. She wants to find solutions for remaining barriers to productive co-habitation of refugees and hosts. Heba believes that language is an important tool for integration. To share effective learning methods and provide motivation, Arab speaking refugees who haven’t mastered European languages yet, should have access to RefuTales. Ideally this will give them experience-based advice on how to get started with learning the local language.

Learn more about Hebatullah on her LinkedIn profile.


Sheila Cappaert is translator into Dutch for Refutales. She studied Applied Linguistics at the University of Ghent and now follows an education for optician-optometrist in Brussels.

Aside from Refutales, she volunteers in animal shelters in Belgium  and supports Amnesty International.

Languages and human rights are two passions she would like to combine through RefuTales. She believes that refugees shouldn’t be seen as a problem, but instead as people who have a lot to offer. She hopes everyone sees through Refutales’ stories that refugees are valuable persons who are done a great wrong.


Sonsonjaja Marschke is translator into German for RefuTales. She studies law in her sixth and final year at the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in Germany. During her time as a student, she has been on the board of the Halle branch of the European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) and a member of its delegation to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in Geneva.

During an exchange year at the Université Paris X Nanterre, she did a Masters in International and European Law. Sonja is a lingophile, speaking and translating five languages in total: German, French, English, Romanian and Italian.

Sonja came in touch with the topic of refugees and migration during an internship at the foreigners registration office. Motivated by this internship, she began volunteering at the Young Migrants’ Support Organisation (Jugendmigrationsdienst), a German NGO providing support for young immigrants. She started out as a German teacher, but soon expanded her services. During her counselling hours, Sonja provides translation services (in German, French and English), lends a sympathetic ear and accompanies refugees to official appointments.

Being passionate about helping refugees, Sonja decided to join RefuTales because she felt it was a unique initiative with great potential. She hopes to help spread knowledge about the situation of refugees and ultimately to raise awareness on the topic to German politicians.

Learn more about Sonja on her LinkedIn profile.


Caroline Morton-Gallagher is a native English speaker and has been living and working in the Netherlands for over 20 years. She is currently the International Relations Officer for Stichting Epilepsie Instellingen Nederland (SEIN), a Centre of Excellence for Epilepsy and Sleep Medicine. Caroline also holds two voluntary positions as representative of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) to the UN and has recently been elected as Vice-President Europe for the International Bureau for Epilepsy. Her work involves contacts with many international NGO’s and non-profit organisations. Caroline has always had a passion for language, as well as an interest in human rights and societal issues. This brought her to RefuTales where she can combine these interests as a voluntary translator.


Yessica Apolo is a volunteer translator/editor at RefuTales. Originally from Ecuador, she grew up in the Netherlands and Spain and moved to the UK to finish her degree. Given her background, she has a very personal connection to the subject of migration.

She studied English Literature and Linguistics in Madrid and Canterbury. During her time at university she got involved with the Kent Refugee Action Network, a charity that supports unaccompanied minors who arrive in the UK. After graduating, she worked teaching English as a foreign language before moving into the charity sector. Yessica currently works for a relationship counselling and support charity in Nottingham, UK.

Yessica’s experiences of living in different countries have given her a passion for sharing the stories of people who embody multiple cultural and national identities. She believes that personal stories can be a powerful tool to foster empathy and compassion and as a society we need those traits when thinking about and engaging with refugees.

Yessica blogs at https://yessicadaedalus.wordpress.com/. You can also read her LinkedIn profile.


Sandra KüblerSandra Kübler is RefuTales’ editor for German. Shas obtained a Bachelor in German and international Literature from the University of Tübingen. Before she started to study for a Master in Interculturalism and Integration she began an apprenticeship as bookbinder.

Since an extended stay abroad, Sandra has a passion for foreign cultures. Wanting to use and combine her theoretical knowledge with practice, she has participated in countless “tandem” pairs, helping visiting students to Germany learn German. She has also tutored a class of newcomers to Germans preparing them for trade schools. These experiences have made her skilled at dealing with language barriers.

In addition to good food, Sandra loves to meet new people, get to know their stories and thereby broaden her horizon.


Nadine Vermeulen is an editor for RefuTales. She was born and raised in the Netherlands, and obtained her MSc in Human Geography and Planning at Utrecht University. Currently, she is a postgraduate student in International Migration with a Secondary Specialisation in Political Strategy and Communication at the University of Kent in Brussels.

Nadine has always had a great interest for other places and cultures. She has lived one and a half years in Spain — as an Erasmus student and intern and the Dutch embassy in Madrid– and was involved in the European Geography Association (EGEA) as a board member and congress organiser. Thanks to these experiences, she had the chance to meet many people with different cultural backgrounds, and learn from their views and opinions.

Her interest for migration was sparked during her undergraduate in Utrecht, when she first followed an academic course on migration, and volunteered as a coach for New Dutch Connections; an organisation that aims to create a connection between Dutch and ‘new Dutch’ citizens. During her postgraduate studies in Brussels, she has been able to deepen her knowledge on international migration and political responses to migration phenomena. Before volunteering for RefuTales, she has also been involved in Flemish Refugee Action.

Nadine decided to get involved in RefuTales since she believes that refugees’ voices are often underrepresented in current debates about migration. To be able to get a complete understanding of issues related to forced migration, it is important to show the perspective of refugees as well, she states.

You can find out more about Nadine on LinkedIn