Posted by: Admin | January 18, 2017

The “Liez” Center in Sintang.

Willie Smits

Jakarta, January 14th, 2017.


Recently Adrienne and myself visited the “Weesaapjes” Foundation in The Netherlands. The name of the foundation literally means small orphaned apes, and represents the passion of our dear friend Liesbeth van der Burgt, the founder of this small foundation in Uden, The Netherlands. Liesbeth worked with us in the heart of Borneo caring for the many small orangutan babies especially with enrichment activities to stimulate their learning skills, vital for survival in the wild after their release. She also donated medicines and some quarantine cages for the orangutan rehabilitation center.

Our visit to Weesaapjes Foundation in Uden just before Christmas 2016. From left to right Marco van der Aa, Eric Engelbert and Ingrid van der Locht together with Adrienne Watson, chairwoman of Masarang Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, in 2016 Liesbeth fell ill and a few months later passed away, leaving her friends the non-enviable task of picking up the work that Liesbeth dealt with so passionately. Her friends contacted us after reading what we had written about our friend Liesbeth on the Masarang Hong Kong website and this visit was one of the follow-ups of this contact. The board of the Weesaapjes Foundation decided to use part of the personal inheritance of Liesbeth to the foundation to set up two projects, one in Africa for the chimpanzees and one in Borneo for the orangutans.

It was quite an emotional meeting, with each of us sharing pictures and stories about Liesbeth from different corners of the world. Adrienne and I afterwards went to visit the burial place of Liesbeth, a grave only marked by a section of a pine tree in a small opening in the forest. When the wood will have decayed in this special natural burial place, Liesbeth’s memory will continue to live in the “Liez” center in the Jerora forest school project while helping her beloved apes gaining a second chance to live free in their jungle again.

We are very pleased to announce that thanks to the combined donations of Weesaapjes Foundation and the Victoria Shanghai Academy from Hong Kong the new forest school for orangutans now soon will be reality. The new center will be built on land donated by my co-founder of the Sintang Orangutan Center, former Dutch missionary Father Jacques Maessen, in the Jerora forest, not far from our Sintang Orangutan Clinic. We will keep you updated on the progress of the project through our websites.

The section of pine stem marking her burial place, engraved with the words: “If you can dream it you can do it. Liesbeth”. That is how we remember Liesbeth, passionate, dedicated and loving wholeheartedly.








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