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RITCH: The story behind the actions.

I have been asked so many time WHY I started RITCH and what my motivation behind the company is that it is time to write a blog post.

Some people doubt me. Some people love me. I guess that's just the way life goes when you do something that stands out and when you stand up for an opinion.

The most important thing is that you know in your heart that you're following your dreams.

The story behind RITCH start when I was about 15 years old. I always had terrible pain in my back. I was a student in art school wich ment that sometimes while painting we had to stand in the same spot for hours. Also the opposite occured.. as a student you also have to sit in the same spot for hours. That hurted a lot! I was in pain at that time. Going on vacation was painfull, carrying a handbag or a backpack was painful.. but it didn't get any better.. it got worse.

At night I was having so much pain that I couldn't lay down, I could not walk .. The only thing I could do was concentrate on my breathing. Very slow and very shallow breathing.

It took me a few hours to go through that pain. Wich means that in the morning I was deadtired. Ready for another day at school.

You may think to yourself.. why didn't you go to a doctor? Ow.. I DID. I've seen many doctors at that time. They all thought, since I was a teenager.. that I was acting. They could not find anything so they all thought it was in my head.

That I wanted to skip school..

Years passed, the pain got worse.. Since so many doctors didn't believe me, teachers started hating me, I started to not talk about the pain anymore. Not to friends, only to my mother, who has always been my rock. I was convinced that I wasn't a strong person.

That's what the doctors said.. they said.. everyone has pain once in a while. It's normal, you're just not that strong. Year after years, the attacks kept coming. Sometimes once a week. Sometimes 3 times a week. Yet I tried to keep my mouth shut as much as possible, tried to work, tried to do my best at school.. But as the years went by, I was only turning into a living zombie. I lost so much weight, energy.. My body was European size 32 and I didn't had much strenght at all.

Wich only agitated the teachers more. I remember the Sint-Lukas School from Brussels.

(No, I'm not gonna spare them, it can be public). The teachers didn't believe me when I said that I was sick. They failed me in my last bachelor year so badly that it messed up my bachelor degree. But that's not what hurted me. What hurted me was the way they treated me. I still remember them yelling at me and calling me lazy. I will NEVER forget that moment.

1 year later.. My body was even worse. My boyfriend at that time pushed me to go to the hospital. I didn't want to go, since I've had so much tests and visits before. Yet I went to the hospital for him. To do him a favor.

It was the Sint-Maria Hospital in Halle, the emergency room, that saved my life.

For the first time in all these years.. someone really listened to me. And they didn't see me

as 'just a weak person'. No, they listened to my pain and they saw me as a human who was

in real pain. They found out that I had galbladder stones. And that the pain was coming from galbladder attacks. I will never forget what that nurse said to me..

"You poor thing, attacks like these are worse than going into labor and bringing a child into this world." It was the first time in 7 years that someone said that I was strong instead of weak. I could not stop crying. Nor did I believe that.

It was a very close call. My body was neglected for all these years. I needed an operation fast and got one at the same hospital. Sad to say this.. but my galbladder was already torn

due to the attacks and it was already trying to fix it itself with scar tissue.

Here is a picture of me a few weeks after my operation. I already gained extra pounds thanks to the hospital and was living without pain for the first time that I could remember.

So that was it? Nope! It was still a long way to go.. I was sick almost every day after the operation. My immune system was down. And I had colds and the flu almost all the time. My muscles in my back hurted a lot, because they couldn't relax because of the pain all these years.

It was still a long way to go.. It took me about another 5 years to recover and to feel as healthy as others. I have food allergies since then.. wich also took a long time to discover.

The entire time of being sick was about 12 years of my life. Since I was 16 till I was 28 years old. I now just turned 31 so you already know that RITCH and my social projects have something to do with this.

OK, so you're healed.. That's it? Again.. NOPE! It's not just the damage it did to my body. First thing is the mind.. Since I have been told that I was weak all my life while go through massive pain makes it very hard for me to recognise pain. My brains do not give me a signal

warning when I have pain. Wich still leads me to crossing my own boundaries with of course

.. consequences.

Then there is the financial part.. I could not go to work for a very long time.. wich ment that I could not save as much as my friends did.

I also missed my bachelor diploma because of it.

And one of the things that got me so mad over the past years was the belgium goverment.

They see me as lazy.. wich means that I have no right to normal unemployement income when I need it. Even when I am all alone, I will still only receive the lowest income of 300 euros.

It's not just about being sick and you're healed now, so it's over!

No, it has a lot of other consequences. If I didn't have my parents I would have ended up in the streets.. like

Wich is WHY I wanted to help a homeless person.

Wich is WHY I want to help cancer patients and others who are sick.


This is Ritch.

This is me.

And this is me now in the same hospital for a very different goal:


Head Office Europe:

Belgium, Brussels


Tel: 0032 491 22 26 62

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