Interview for Powerful Life Magazine 12/14
During their visit in Spiez,
Switzerland for the annual
board meeting of Heart for
Children International in
Switzerland in August this year
the founders Louis Pool and
Erna Neuteboom from
Holland were happy to give an
interview for the Swiss Hour of
Louis Pool and Erna Neuteboom
Erna you started with Heart for Children in Holland in 2008. How did this came to
Erna: 'Actually both Louis and I felt urged with the wish to help homeless and
vulnerable children. The occasion that led us was a children’s home in China for
abandoned and disabled children. Abandoned because their parents rejected the
children. The children were disabled and the other reason was that the Chinese
can only have one child per family.
We did the fundraising with the
help of Hour of Power in The
Netherlands and were happily
surprised by the results. I always
said ‘Why a new organization, there
are already so many organizations
in this field?’ But my husband
repeatedly said to me: The more
fisherman there are, the more we
catch. The more children we can
Louis you are founder/president of the foundation as well as Managing Director of
Hour of Power in the Netherlands. What was your role in establishing the
Louis: 'The Hour of Power at that time in the Crystal Cathedral gave a lot of help to
the poor, to prisoners and to the mission on the field. It only was never shown to
the public. People could easily think that the Church was only about preaching. For
that reason Robert Anthony Schuller wanted to involve the people into charity. As
a result of that we also did so in Holland. Franciscus from Assisi is saying this so
beautiful: Preach the gospel and use as less words as possible. We want to give our
words strength by doing what we are saying. We give hand and feet to God’s love
for this world. And the Bible tells us that orphans and widows are a first priority.'
Is there any connection between Hour of Power and Heart for Children? If yes,
Louis: 'We are very happy with the help of Hour of Power. But for legal and tax
reasons we were not able to do so direct under the umbrella of Hour of Power.
Therefore we founded a separate foundation called Heart for Children.'
Erna: 'Yes, we now have a wonderful cooperation and a covenant between both
foundations, which makes it also possible to do fundraising in areas outside the
Christian environment. Our starting point remains our faith in Christ.'
What was your first aid project after the abandoned children in China?
Erna: 'After our help in China we started in South Africa with establishing two
foster families in the township Kayamandi near Stellenbosch. Quickly after we
started that there was a terrible earthquake in Haiti. Because we knew a
missionary there we could start an aid-program very quickly. Thousands of
children lost their parents in the earthquake.
Louis: 'With the help of the Dutch viewers we raised more then 400.000 SFR. With
that money we have built apartments and now give shelter to 48 orphaned
children. They all got a substitute mother that will look after them and we monthly
send a contribution for their livelihood.'
Erna, can you explain what exactly is the essence of the aid programs?
Erna: 'Our help exists of assembling families. Our care model is a mother with 4 to
6 children. So once we can bring together those children we will look out for a
mother. These women are mostly elder and have already brought up their own
children. There is for elderly people no pension or any governmental welfare
program so this is a win-win situation. The foster mother is looked after financially
and at the same time the orphaned children.'
Louis: 'Indeed, it is so beautiful to see that small children at a certain moment do
not know better any more then this is their ‘mama’.'
Now you are already 6 years on your way in the Netherlands. How is your mission
Erna: 'Looking back we both are very thankful for knowing that we may, however
small that contribution is, support to a better world. As Jesus is saying: do not
prevent the children but let them come to Me, cause they belong to the Kingdom
Louis: 'On a monthly basis we support now more then 250 vulnerable children
worldwide in countries like Swaziland, South-Africa, Uganda, Haiti and some others
and give help to various projects. Lately we helped children at the Philippines.'
What stories can you tell that made an incredible impression on you?
Erna: 'Let me think, one of the stories that made an impact on me was about Anela
and her little brother Shiva. They are young but know everything about sadness,
poverty and hunger and not to forget violence. Their daddy died of AIDS and
mama was an alcoholic. She mistreated her children. They got a stepfather that
asked them to steal for him and he even raped Anele. Something she cannot and
does not want to talk about. At a certain moment the stepfather tied Anela to a
bundle of wood and set her afire. Just at the last minute she knew to escape death.
The scars on her back are a lasting memory. The police brought Anele and Shiva to
their grandmother. But she was too old and had too many worries of her own. So
now what? There is no one to care for this little girl and her little brother. And
that's a reality for many children. That makes us go for it!'
At a certain moment you started a foundation in Switzerland. Why?
Louis (joking): 'I always thought that Switzerland is a rich country and that Swiss
can make a big difference too. But let me be serious. We like to expand the
continuing help to at least 1'000 children and for that reason we like to start our
mission in more countries.
The first is in Switzerland. But we also have a foundation in South Africa and in a
couple of years we like to establish one in Germany. That all with only one
purpose: to give hand and feet to God’s love.'
Louis or Erna, do you like to add something?
Louis: 'We want to express our thanks to you Rosi, for managing and running our
small organization in Switzerland and Margrit Zurbrügg for her help in the board.'
Erna: 'And we thank and bless all the Swiss people that are already supporting us.
What comes now to my mind is that with their help you all made it possible for
deaf children to hear again through an ear operation. Thank you so much for this
and also the other help in sponsoring a family! That the Lord may bless you
abundantly for what you have done to the poor and the less fortunate and to the
least among us.'
Louis: 'Having said this I cannot do otherwise in my work as a fundraiser than to
ask again: Please help us to help more children!'