“Out of all the charities we considered, Nepal spoke to us the most”, said Vivian Treurniet (20), student of Pedagogical Sciences at EUR and coordinator of Happietaria. As a result of extreme poverty, human trafficking of women and children is a major problem in the Asian country. “A lot of men there go to work for many hours, leaving their wives and children in an unprotected and vulnerable position”, Vivian explains.

The restaurant aims to raise money along with its partner organisation Tearfund, to improve the economic situation of those who are defenseless to forced prostitution or labour.

A student-run success

Happietaria is run by seven board members, who are all students from different schools and universities around Rotterdam. The venture works with volunteers: “Anyone is welcome to help”, says Vivian. Everything is still fully student-operated: “The kitchen committee are all students, and they know really well how to cook the dishes, this month we’re serving some Nepalese food too”, referring to the Nepalese lentil soup, dumplings and curry on their menu, which are all fresh and homemade.

“We’re open from Monday to Saturday, and I’m there three or four times a week”, says Vivian. “It’s quite a lot of work but very fun, we have a really fun team.” The team started the preparations in September, and divided the tasks among each other with the volunteers. “There are no paid employees”, says Vivian.

Raising awareness

Happietaria entrance
The entrance of Happietaria at the Samuel Mullerplein. Image credit: Femke Legué

The restaurant which is open only for a month every year, gathered immense support and participation from customers. Vivian: “Some days all of our tables are full.” Most of these customers know about the cause, but some are not aware: “We do get a lot of people who are just passing by as they’re walking around the neighborhood and decide to grab a bite.” In such cases, the team explains to the customers where their money is going to, and sometimes receives additional donations. “The main goal here is to raise awareness”, Vivian says. Happietaria is open until 20 May.

Happietaria is located in Samuel Mullerplein 19A.

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