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Tineke, Moluccas

“Something typical of the Moluccan community is that when my mother died 14 years ago, no fewer than 1600 people came to her funeral. And they all had to stay for dinner! That is to be expected of my people, a strong sense of togetherness.” She suddenly laughs. “And the importance of food!”

Tineke is a cheerful and light-hearted person, something that is all the more striking as her family history has not been easy. “Some 12,500 Moluccans who fought on the Dutch side of the war in Indonesia, arrived by boat in 1951 to Amsterdam. My parents were part of that group. Upon arrival, they were unexpectedly discharged from the army and placed in camps.”

“My father and mother lived in Kamp Vossenbosch in Wierden. Like everyone else, they thought they could return home soon to live in the promised Moluccan Republic. They weren’t aware they wouldn't be able to return anymore. Indonesia had swiftly annexed our country.”

“I was born three years after my parents had arrived. For 17 years we lived in a wooden barrack, with one bedroom for the six of us and straw sacks as our mattresses. We were deliberately kept as far as possible from the Dutch community, so we wouldn’t get used to it and integrate. We received food from a soup kitchen, but my mother had never seen potatoes. She warmed up the herring on the coal stove. And we hung up the laundry over the power lines with a ladder. It’s obvious, we weren't explained anything."

“I lived there until I was fifteen years old. By that time, it was clear that we wouldn’t go back. Children like me did go to Dutch schools, even though in class we didn't integrate very well either. Later I went into nursing. That’s where I also met my husband. We got married in 1980 in Voorschoten in the presence of 900 guests. Of course, they all had to stay for dinner as well!”

“A lot has changed for our community in a good way, and we remain a close-knit group. My husband and I have three children. I am now retired after a lifetime of working in healthcare. Two days a week I am a nanny to our grandchildren and one day a week I work as a volunteer in a nursing home in Wassenaar. In the department for elderly people with dementia, I cook for about twenty people. Still busy with food, right?” she laughs.


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