We will tell about our Dutch volunteers from Friesland named Sjollie and Qeeske. We picked them up at the airport, guessing about how they look like. We did not bring any welcome note. When we saw two ladies, looking around with ease, we know they were the ones. Sjollie helped in the fund raising of the YA and she told us she had to come and see the kids. She asked Qeeske her good friend, if she would like to come along.
We were buying things for the children. Sjollie insisted something that’s special. Story books, coloring books, play dough. And we found an enormous map. Sjollie and Qeeske made calculations. It was okay to buy and Sjollie was so glad to have that so large Philippine map for the children.
We looked around in another store. Sjollie was holding some milk powder and said: like this for Geertjan, not special for me, and we laughed. We thought what should be that special thing we need beyond our daily needs. Aha we said an oven. It was a lot of money as we were looking for the price. Sjollie and Qeeske counted again, switching to their language, but counting, from peso to euro. Yes, they could buy it! But the item was not available. So maybe in another store. We thought that the oven was the most special. Sjollie would teach the kids how to bake muffins, and cookies, and of course birthday cake. We made a picture in our minds. Yummy.
And so bake we did. We got the oven. Sjollie teaching the kids. Qeeske helping in the clean-up. Busy here and there. Air smelled delicious. Sjollie and Qeeske were houseparents. They got up at 6am to bath the kids. They set their meals. They walked them to school. They talked with the kids, well, in Frisian. They gave them a hug, and more hug. Sjollie said that Geertjan told to give the children love, that’s the most important.
It was a nice two weeks with Sjolliie and Qeeske. They saw how the Filipinos lived. We went to the dumpsite. They saw families and children sifting plastic bottles amid swarming flies; a pregnant woman with a child tagging along.“Why are they allowed to be there? Where’s your government? Does it help the children?” Maybe Batang Pinangga can help a child there?” Questions after questions. Yes we will do what we can do.
They liked it in Batang Pinangga. They said it’s calming, it’s a place to forget.
When they were around they become part of the family, the children always found their place on their laps, on their arms for the hugs, not a lot of running they said, for they were not young anymore-the children knew that. “Will you come again and visit? I asked. “We don’t know, we are already 74 years old”, and they laughed. When Sjollie and Qeeske left, a family member is to be missed for a long time. But the oven stays, so are the baking lessons, and so we remember always. And especially Sjollie’s tattered backpack, sewn into them the many flags of the counties she had visited. That world traveler was in Batang Pinangga and promised to help.