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I would like to write a bit about Heroes. And as much as I am a fan of the sci-fi drama series, I’d like to write a bit about my own heroes. People who inspire me, and who teach me something about myself. Since I’m easily inspired, and know very little about myself, I have many heroes. But some are extra special, and they deserve some sugar from me on this blog. Especially since they’re family.

This may sound like a huge cliché, but both my parents are my heroes. But it veers away from the cliché dogma because they are not my heroes because they are my parents. In fact, I feel that they left their parenthood behind, and moved on to become my heroes.

Head and heart

My mother used to work hard as president of a non-profit amateur writers guild, promoting and developing writing skills for amateurs. Since she studied organizational sciences with a major in the art sector, she felt intellectually at home. Her board of directors however showed a degree of amateurism too, and she was forced to quit. Being close to the age of 50, and at a time of recession, she had a very hard time getting a new and challenging job.

Then something happened that turned her whole life around. She met a sailor.

You have to understand that my parents have split up over 20 years ago, so my mother meeting someone is a good thing. This man was building his own sailing boat all by himself, and he introduced my mother to the wide open and free world of sailing. And she was hooked. Hook, line and sinker. She went to the College of Seafarers and learnt how to navigate, take apart a diesel engine, calculate depth based on the composition of the water, and interpret the weather. All these things were so new to her, but she relished in the education it brought her. And it opened a whole new avenue in which to daydream about making long trips to faraway places.

And then the boat was sold.



This was a blessing, because now they could find a new ship to buy, and use the leftover money to travel. They went to England, France, Belgium and even Turkey to look for a new vessal, but they eventually found their dream boat in the United States of America. The Magnet was anchored in Wilmington. California. West-coast USA. On the ‘wrong’ side of the continent.

So they decided to travel from Wilmington (just below LA) to Baha California, MX, and from there across the Pacific Ocean to the Marquesas Islands, Bora Bora, Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia and onwards to Australia. Just the two of them, on a 50 ft sailboat, across the Pacific. Having the greatest adventures, going to the most beautiful places in the world, meeting new people, making new friends. Living life to the fullest.

That’s my mom. I’m so proud of her living her dream! That’s why she is my hero.

You can find her blog at www.reismeemetdemagnet.info.

Stolen heart

My dad is a retired college professor who had a student that went to Ghana, West Africa to learn about orphanages there. This student was so taken by the needy children that she decided to start her own project to create a children’s home. My dad thought this a worthy cause to support, and did his best to raise money for the Wa Yiri Children’s Home, in Wa, Upper West Region, Ghana.

He became more and more involved, raising funds, providing everyone information about the children, even helping out in selecting who would be accepted in the Wa Yiri home, and more painfully, who wouldn’t.

SO it didn’t really come as a surprise when he told me he was going to Ghana to help with the final selection and attend the opening of the Wa Yiri Children’s Home.

He went there, and left his heart with the little children.

That was 2004. In February 2005 he went back to Ghana to look into the opportunities for him to start new projects to raise funds and volunteers, together with the locals and Ghanian governement, to help out the needy children in the Upper West Region of Ghana.

So far he started an AIDS hospice where women and children come to get love and care and die in peace (or, with the arrival of Anti-Retroviral-Treatments, get them into the medication programme and send them back into society). This project has recieved a lot of media attention in Ghana, including a meeting with Ghana’s Second Lady, who praised the project and donated sacks of food.

He also started providing medical treatments in the outlying villages, where people are too poor to go to the hospital. He’s no MD, but he has trained nurses and medical students and other volunteers to help him out.

He started several other projects as well, such as a street children project that generates some of its own income, an education project for illiterate children, and a shelter home for street children.

He’s now realising his Big Dream by building a complex of buildings that will house all the projects in one place: the Child Support Ghana Residence. The Child Support Children’s Home (formerly the Wa Yiri project), is finished now, and the kids now live there. The AIDS Hospice is nearing completion.

My dad felt he could still be relevant in society, but also found that at home, the relevance was limited. So he followed his heart and went to Wa, Ghana. He’s found his calling, and follows it through to the limit. And that is why he is also my hero.

You can follow his work on the Child Support Ghana Foundation website, or on his personal weblog Under African Skies.

Oh, and I help him out by being the secretary of the two Dutch Foundations that support his projects.

A family of Heroes

You might think ‘so, what is it like to have a family of heroes?’. For me, there’s two sides of that coi

On the one side I’m immensely proud of what they’re doing. It shows to me that it is never too late to find a new dream and to follow it. The possibilities are endless. And you don’t need to win the lottery first to be able to live your dream.

Also, it provides me with some great new experiences as I visit them in some of the less travelled places in the world. I’ve been to Ghana in 2006, and visited my mom in Fiji this september. SO they’re a perfect excuse to travel far 🙂

The most double feeling is that they both feel that they can go out into the world because me and my brother have turned out fine and are independant enough to make do on our own. I’m glad that they did and do, but by doing so, they stopped being my parents and became something else.

You see, they’re literally not there when you might need them. Oh, I get lots of love and support, that’s not a problem. But being a parent is also about providing the safe haven, the homebase, providing well-meant but unasked advise, being there at major and minor events in your life, basically being part of your life. And all those things I provide for them, from a distance.

Is this a problem? No. I love them more for doing what they do, and they’re right when they think and say that my brother and I are independant, strong people who can deal with what life throws at us. But having heroes as parents isn’t all good.

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