Wilfried graduated in 1983 in the field of Tropical Agriculture at the former agricultural college in Deventer, the Netherlands. Soon afterwards he started doing development work - he first spent a few years working in West Africa, and since 1989 he has worked in Uganda. He worked in various rural development projects and has much experience in working with farming communities.
These experiences led him to realize that much official development work is doomed to fail. This is because many development projects are undertaken in such a way that the local community are not trained well enough to take care of the projects on their own after the external money has dried up. This is one of the reasons Wilfried initiated a project that is not implemented from above, but comes from and is supported by the people themselves!
Wilfried became acquainted with Ugandans when in 1989 he was sent to the Western part of Uganda as a consultant in organizational development and sustainable agriculture. At this time, he worked for a Belgian development organization (NPO). There, he also met his wife, with whom he had a daughter in 2010. In 1993, he adopted his daughter Vione, when she was just two years old. Her parents had both died due to suffering from AIDS. She currently lives and studies in the Netherlands.
Wilfried says: "Through living and working with Ugandans, but even more because of my relationship with my Ugandan wife, I really became involved with daily life in Uganda. I have become more and more aware of one social issue over the years, namely the plight of children and youth who have lost their parents."
As a result, Wilfried and his wife supported many your people over the years in both material and spiritual ways.
Experiences with Taking Care of Others
Wilfried describes a number of personal experiences related to caretaking that influenced him. "Together with my wife we have regularly taken care of children and adolescents who did not receive parental care."
- The first was Vione, a cousin of my wife (then girlfriend) who had lost both parents through AIDS. We have taken care of her since 1993.
- Joyce was another young woman I met, who lived with her stepmother - the second wife of her deceased father. Her stepmother used her as a maid without any form of salary, and she could not go to school. When we met her she was 14 years old and just starting to regularly go to discos and pubs. To her, this was a means to escape her harsh reality. However, hoping to find a good man, she occasionally went out with men. This ultimately led her into prostitution. At sixteen she became pregnant from a Yugoslav, who, however, did not recognise the child. We took care of her baby, John, for two years before he died of AIDS in February 1998. Unfortunately, Joyce was a professional prostitute who had also become infected with AIDS. She passed away last year. Sadly, in recent years I have regularly seen girls ending up in society in the same way.
- Nice was 17 years old and had just finished her fourth grade at secondary school when her father took a second wife and refused to pay for her further education. In his eyes, she needed to marry as soon as possible because then he could get a dowry for her. Nice has been with us as a maid. She has learned how to run a household in a highly effective manner. When my wife was bedridden Nice took care of her so I could continue to do my job. With her salary, she used to pay the tuition of the daughter of her deceased brother. She then trained as a nurse and also completed training as laboratory assistant. She is now employed by the government and is a certified radiographer, after six years of study and hard work.
- In 2001, Grace suddenly stood at our door, asking if I could pay school fees for her. She had lost both her parents, and a friend of her father had taken care of her. She could not do it anymore because she had lost her job, and her husband only wanted to take care of his own children. With our help paying for her fees, Grace has now passed her final high school, trained in logistics, and is happily married with two children.