How it all began...

Simone moved from the Netherlands to Indonesia in 1996 to set up (for a period of 2 years) a dive center for a large hotel in the village of Tongkeina on North Sulawesi, near the capital Manado. Due to various circumstances, the 2 years became an indefinite period of time and after a year the village of Tongkeina became Simone's residence. Gradually she became more absorbed in village life and realized that many things were not sufficient. Helping began in 2000 with the construction of a community center in the village and a small clinic.

First impressions of a school

At one point she visited the elementary school, or rather something that had to pass for it. The situation was unacceptable by any standards. Too little furniture, an asbestos roof, no teaching materials, teachers who were not paid and therefore regularly did not show up. All in all, not a situation where children receive a solid education.

In addition, many older children walked aimlessly through the village because further education after elementary school was not possible. This resulted in many social problems such as drunkenness, violence and child pregnancy.

Small steps

She started in 2001, first on a small scale, by paying the school fees for the children whose parents could not afford it, having furniture made and replacing the roof of the elementary school. The first costs were private, but when a second school came asking for help and the number of families who wanted to be helped increased, other methods had to be found to raise money.

The schools organized dance and singing performances and guests of Thalassa Dive Center were asked for a contribution. It worked, and by 2003 the two elementary schools were functioning at a slightly higher level. In the meantime, older children were also supported in their education at one of the secondary schools in town and other ways of raising money had to be considered.

The first "sponsor parents" came on the scene and helped Simone to keep everything moving forward.

A new call for help

In 2004, the principal of another elementary school in a nearby village came to ask for help. This was a government school, consisting of 2 small buildings, one of which had collapsed and sunk into the sea.

At that time 60 children were attending school and had to be taught in two small classrooms simultaneously at 6 levels with only 2 teachers. Financially this was unsustainable and besides that, the fact that this was a government school was no incentive to help until .... Simone walked into the school one day and saw the misery firsthand. Something had to be done about it.

Through guests of the dive center, friends, family and private donations, a new building was constructed in 2005 with 4 classrooms and the second building was completely renovated.

New furniture was made and the school was officially handed over to the government. At the opening ceremony on March 20, 2006, the government promises to send more teachers and after a critical speech by Simone, promises to build a high school for the area as well.

A new building

A Promise is a promise, so after consulting with the church administration in Tongkeina, the village's old church became the site where the new school should be built. But the question remained: how to get money?

By chance, Simone came into contact with Ocke Schuttevaer and his wife Norma. Two Dutchmen who were visiting the hotel where Simone lived and worked.

These 2 wonderful people donated a large amount, but more importantly, registered the project with "Wild Geese" and the NCDO (Dutch Commission for Sustainable Development). Both of these organizations are "doublers" and increase self contributed donations by 76% and 100% respectively.

Creating the foundation

This was also the moment that the ever expanding organization needed an official status and so the foundation "Kehidupan Anda" was established in the Netherlands. After some difficulties and changes in the board in 2006 Paul, Yvonne and Rob ("old" friends and guests of Thalassa) took over the board of the foundation.

The construction of the school started on November 1, 2006. The original plan was to build 6 classrooms: 3 for the Junior High School and 3 for the Senior High School. The existing elementary school was located immediately behind the new one and was not going to be renovated until… In December 2006 a big tree fell on one of the three old buildings and completely destroyed it! The village asked for money to rebuild and Simone decided to make a second floor on the building, in order to facilitate the elementary school.

The first students

To make it to the new school year, construction moves at a brisk pace, and on July 14th 2007 the first students in the school start their secondary education. Furniture comes by shipping container from the Netherlands. Written off but very useful tables and chairs, the transport of which is possible thanks to sponsoring.

Almost immediately, the school turns out to be too small. We need more space. With the remainder of the money a start is made on building more classrooms. But there is not enough left to finish this at once. It will take until 2012 for this to be finished and it is still not enough.

How to proceed?

Currently, more than 340 children are using this school building. There is not enough furniture and we need more classrooms. This is our goal for the coming years. We can only do this with your help.