International Women's Contact The Hague

Memories 6


It was Ina Latuasan, an aunt of my husband, who introduced me to the IWC in 1986; she invited me to an IWC Laura Ashley fashion show in the Congresgebouw, the home base of the IWC at that time. In the audience I saw a beautiful, statuesqe African lady in a bright blue African dress and a high headdress – it was Saramata Voorhoeve, one of our three founding members. I was enthralled! After the show, I immediately asked how I could become a member and I was taken to the Hospitality table where Hospitality Officer Pauline van Dunné gave me all the information. It was the start of a long membership full of exciting experiences, making wonderful friends and a real love for this wonderful Club.

I had only been a member for six months when I was seconded to the Board as Secretary to President Nan Veldhuis and later Flor Duterloo. At the time, I had two small children aged 2 and 4 and they just came along with me to many of the events! When Flor retired after her mandatory 4 years on the Board, I took over as President, just before the official celebrations started for the Club’s 10th anniversary. Her Majesty Queen Beatrix honoured us by attending our official opening at the Grote Kerk. She was welcomed by 70 Members all dressed in their national costume, one for each country. It was so colourful and the Queen took her time to talk to many of the ladies. We also had an IWC Choir at the time and they sang beautifully under the leadership of Sothie Paul. And we were very proud of our cultural exhibition which was dividedinto six areas: Asia, Australasia, Africa, America, Europe and the Netherlands.

It was a wonderful time with everyone working to make the festivities a success. I remember taking empty jam jars to Nel Schouten’s house where several ladies were busy making jams and chutneys for the Bake Sale, with all proceeds going to charity. Our Book Groups invited Helle Haasse, the late well-known Dutch author, to come and talk about her books. One of the Netherland’s top fashion designers, the late Frank Govers, presented his latest fashions while we enjoyed lunch at the Bijhorst Motel in Wassenaar. We had a wonderful Gala Dinner in the cellar of the Ridderzaal at the Binnenhof where our guest of honour was the first female appointed Mayor (of Utrecht) in the Netherlands and where our member and professional opera singer, Maya Thacker, gave us a spontaneous aria. Just a few of the festivities that made our 10th anniversary a great success.

A couple of years after retiring from the Board I was lured back into the working world so was inactive within the Club for a few years. But when I gave up work and became active within the IWC again, I was welcomed back as if I’d never been away. I felt so comfortable slotting in again. This is a great strength of the IWC, the feeling of belonging, and long may it continue for many years to come.

Christine Janssen, former President and Secretary