By Helen Buiskool, North Carolina, USA
I’m so excited to now be able to learn more about my heritage, thanks to The Indo project. It is long overdue for many of us of my generation who have hungered for more information now that our parents have either passed on or are no longer able to tell their stories. I am now uncovering photos from my parents’ house.
This was taken on board the Johan Van Oldenbarneveld. It shows my father, Gerard Buiskool, my mother, Louise Buiskool holding me as a baby, and my grandmother, Frances Buiskool-Verboom holding my brother, Roy. Since I’ve always been told that I was only 3 months old when we left Indonesia, it would date this photo as March 1952. It’s hard to believe my dad had only just turned 28 and my mom was 26 at that time. Such a young age to have one’s life uprooted! We came to Holland and had lived in Scheveningen for a brief period of time before settling in Moerwijk, Den Haag where we lived until 1962 and where most of my childhood memories are based. In 1962 we emigrated to the US and settled in southern California, like so many other Indos. I can now see how the trauma of moving from one’s homeland at such a young age, than packing up and moving again to the States (without my grandmother) affected my parents’ life. It wasn’t easy for them and it left plenty of sad repercussions.
It would be so wonderful if someone looking at The Indo Project web site recognized my family and perhaps be able to tell me more stories about those earlier years. Both my grandmother and mother have passed away and my father is now 86 (and with dementia), so unfortunately the early family stories I now crave are no longer accessible to me.
I also have this photo of my family at the dining table with another family on board the SS Maasdam. I hesitated to send it because of the funny expression on my mom’s face. (I think her hat slipped off just as the photo was taken!) It was taken during the Captain’s Dinner, one of the festivities on our trip to the US. If I recall correctly, I learned my first English words (“thank you”, “please” during this trip since our stewart spoke English.) I considered it a big adventure to be on board such a ship for 2 weeks and can only imagine how emotional it must have been for my parents to, yet again, start a whole new life as a young family.
I can’t recall the name of the family (seated on the right next to my brother Roy in the foreground) who shared our table with us each day. I know their little boy’s name was Ferdie (as in Ferdinand, I guess) who befriended my younger brother Robby during the trip. They were going to settle in Houston, Texas while we were headed to California. I know my parents stayed in touch with them for a while after we settled in. Don’t know what became of them…
Editors Note: Helen is part of the 2nd generation Indos born after the war in Indonesia who hopes to piece together her family’s history. If anyone knew the Buiskool family, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will connect you with Helen.