Mineke Foundation’s rootsHello, I am Marieke Klosters and I joined the Mineke Foundation on a very special working trip* to Liberia at thebeginning of March 2012. The account of this trip not only tells an interesting family story, but is also a persuasiveargument for supporting the activities of the founder of the Mineke Foundation: my cousin Tonia. Come with us onthis trip to Dabwe Town, and you might want to make your contribution to this great initiative… Dabwe Wiah and daughter Tonia (who has been living & working in the Netherlands since 1993)Our stay in Monrovia and daily visits to Dabwe Town made a big impression. I had always thought that I had quite a goodgrasp of the situation thanks to the family stories, newsletters, www.minekefoundation.org and the personalconversations I had with my cousin Tonia. However, when I saw and experienced everything, it all fell into place!
We got to Mineke Foundation’s roots. I now fully understand what my Liberian uncle Dabwe Wiah and my Dutch auntMineke once envisaged. I also see the passion of my admirable niece for continuing her parents’ life work: thefoundation and development of a community and a school.The Mineke Foundation really can make a difference to the development of Dabwe Town, coordinating activitiescompletely consistent with what Tonia’s parents envisioned when they started in 1968. Their activities however came toan abrupt end when the civil war started, the same war that claimed my aunt as a victim in 1992.I see the same passion in Dabwe Wiah. My 82-year-old uncle is grief stricken over the loss of his wife Mineke, but at thesame time still full of vitality and highly motivated to ensuring that the Damiefa School regains its position as the thirdbest primary school in Liberia. A start has been made by rebuilding the former assembly hall as the “AuditoriumMineke”. The Mineke Foundation was able to generate the necessary funding for this through donations and grants.The next stages are the renovation of the roof, the classrooms and the office, but we have not yet obtained thenecessary funding of EUR 26,500. We have applied for grants, but private donations are also most welcome. Anotheraim is to install solar panels on the auditorium’s roof. With this sustainable lighting solution, they will not have todepend on the (expensive) power supply. Extra costs for the solar panels: EUR 7,500.
During our trip we also got to know the people of Dabwe Town. This community once consisted of around 400 people, whereas now - after the war – the city has almost 3000 inhabitants. We listened to wise old men, hard-working women and active young people with a sense of responsibility, as they came up with projects that will help them to develop themselves as well as the community. The local Mineke Foundation Team supports them and encourages them to draw up an actual implementation plan and cost estimate. In this way, they themselves take step 1 and the Mineke Foundation can subsequently make available the necessary means from the Netherlands as step 2. Please visit our website for more information about our projects.A number of projects that enable women (and men of course) to start up their own businesses, such as soap makingand pastry baking, are ready to go. A group of young people has united in the Just Say No Club. With their positiveattitude and practical measures against illegal habits such as drugs and criminality, they set an example to othermembers of the community. For the so-called ‘learning plays’ which they perform, they still need a digital camera withvideo (update: a digital camera has been donated) and a sound system (does anyone have such a device lying around inthe attic which we might use?). Mutual communication is their life line, hence a mobile phone is vital. For those whoare not able to help in kind: we need around EUR 4,000 for the aforementioned activities.I feel very proud that I am related to someone whos trying to make a substantial difference. I am convinced that your(financial) contribution is well-spent. Just this once, I will use the e-mail addresses of friends and acquaintances tobring Tonia’s activities to your attention. And if you decide to help her… donating through her website is a piece ofcake. Every little bit helps in creating a brighter future for these children…*The people who took part in this trip from 29 February to 8 March were: Tonia Dabwe (Chair), Elly Overeem (Secretary) of theMineke Foundation and Marieke Klosters, patron of the foundation. For the record, travel and accommodation expenses were paidout of our own pockets. Please refer to the travel blog on the website for more information. Translated by: Annemarie Bult (www.abbt.nl), volunteering time for a worthwhile cause.