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Royal Award

   On Friday, April 24, Hans Kerkhoff, member of the Platform for Integration, received a call from the Mayor of Heemstede, Astrid Nienhuis to hear that he has been appointed Knight of the Order of Oranje Nassau. He really is a well-deserved candidate for it, as he has been a volunteer in many fields for over 50 years, particularly for the Church, nature and environment, and refugees.

For example, he is a nature guide at the IVN Zuid-Kennemerland department, a volunteer at Thijsse’s Hof in Bloemendaal, a volunteer from the Taalcoaches foundation and a collector for various charities.
We congratulate him warmly.


An(other) enthusiastic member of Heemstede Platform Integration


Ingrid van de Kasteele has also been on the Platform for more than four years. There I got to know her as someone who is very passionate and therefore also thinks that all kinds of issues are not getting solved fast enough. Too little is achieved in concrete terms. That is why Ingrid has also distanced herself from the platform for a little while in the past, which I can understand really well. But then there is always that passion in her, that desire to do something for other human beings. It was fun and interesting to discover that passion in ourselves together, something you do understand when you sit together in the Platform.

 But that only really comes forward when the two of you are sitting at the dining table together. And there, of course, we did not just only talk about the Platform, but also about our pets and our love of traveling (hence the photo of Ben from Cuba).

 Ingrid has put the center of gravity of her activities in helping among others, permit holders of Heemstede with the Dutch language. She can really mean something in that. That requires a lot of patience and clearness. And  Ingrid has learned that in her life. She started as a kindergarten teacher and subsequently gave her lessons in the philosophy of life and later on she also did theater. In all these activities that she has been a part of, clarity and patience were essential. Whether they were children of the age of four to sixteen or elderly people with dementia at a nostalgia club. This quality of her is also a prerequisite at the NT2 schools for permit holders. Ingrid is not only a language coach for permit holders, but also for immigrants from Azerbaijan, China, and Korea. And she also helps Syrian dentists on their way to get their name in the BIG register(a register for healthcare professionals). Moreover, she is one of the driving forces behind the taalsoos, which takes place every Wednesday morning in the library of Heemstede (Plein1).
In short; it was an interesting conversation with Ingrid van de Kasteele and I am very glad to share that on the website.

Ben Steinebach


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Do you know?

Do you know about that the television program “Nederland in beweging” that every morning broadcasts on the channel Max. You can stay fit by following Olga Commandeur and Duco Bauwens!  Viewers can participate in the exercises that they perform. It starts at 9.15  am on NPO 1 and lasts 16 minutes. A nice opportunity to workout without even having to leave the house.

Also, do you know that children between 4 and 11 years old can travel by bus all day for € 1.00 during the entire vacation?
For more information visit:

Do you know that you can very well improve your Dutch language by watching the television program Lingo? You see the popular word game every day at 8 PM at SBS6 with the host Jan Versteeg.


Chair of Heemstede Integration Platform


At the request of the webmasters, Ben Steinebach and I, Ingrid van de Kasteele, entered into discussions together. About the platform, what drives us and what connects us. Coincidentally, we were sitting at the same table at the information evening in the Heemstede town hall in September 2015.  It was an information evening about how Heemstede will deal with the flow of refugees coming to the Netherlands. At the end of that evening, you could sign up for a platform, which mainly wants to promote the integration of refugees and permit holders. Ben and Ingrid both signed up for this and they have been sitting at the same meeting table once a month for four years now. And then at the dining table. We just decide to chat and then Ingrid will write “about Ben” and Ben will write “about Ingrid”. This time we have something to tell about Ben.

We quickly come to the word “passion”. We are both driven by the passion to do something for our fellow human beings in different ways.

Ben says that his expectations regarding this platform and his contributions to it were pretty high. He thought that every permit holder could get a job and a house for example. But that did not turn out to be that easy, that was a bit disappointing, but he does think this platform is important for the future. He hopes that the platform will get some status and be a worthy discussion partner for the town hall of Heemstede. As a macroeconomist, Ben has kept himself busy with the whole world during his working life. But it is becoming more fun to be busy locally. Ben is also chairman of the foundation that is working on the Adriaan Pauwjaar. Moreover, he has recently become a member of the board of the Podia Heemstede foundation. A nice coincidence of this is that Ben comes into contact with volunteers who have been paying their contributions for a while. For example, towards the subsidy. Ben doesn’t like the word networking, but that is how it works.

Ben has learned a lot from years of experience with there Eritrean house-keeper. Godchildren and grandchildren have emerged from it. But he also got the experience with the bureaucracy of “The Dutch rules and regulations”.

 Ingrid and Ben’s are really looking forward to have a private meeting place for permit holders and the residents of Heemstede. A place where various for everyone activities can take place at set times. But also where you can just walk in and meet each other. All in all, integration is at the top of the platform’s list.

Next time we will share something about Ingrid that Ben thinks is worth mentioning …..


The museum “LAM” in Lisse is a historic museum. It is a museum particularly for children and young people and their families and everyone who keeps an interest in visiting museums. You don’t have to have any knowledge about art to enjoy it.
You will get to see breathtaking paintings, images, photos, videos, installations, and digital art. They all have something to do with eating, drinking or shopping. You can film your experience with your smartphone or tablet. Outside the museum, there is a children’s farm and the park of the Keukenhof.

Address: Keukenhof 14 2161 AN Lisse
Opening hours
: Wednesday and Friday in the afternoon, Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. During the holidays there are extra opening hours, visit their site:

The tickets cannot be bought at the museum, they are only available online. You can book tickets with the time you wish to visit the museum. A ticket for adults costs € 7.50 and  € 5.00 for children.


Drinking water museum

Do you want to know more about drinking water back then and now? Visit the Waternet Drinking Water Museum in Heemstede. In the museum we explain how we purify water and bring it to your home. You will also find old materials and surprising tools people used to use while purifying water.
The museum is the oldest drinking water building in the Netherlands. And is also fun for children to visit.
Drinking Water Museum is open every Thursday from 8.30 am to 12 am and from 12.30 pm to 3 pm,  and you have to make an appointment beforehand. Please note: during the holiday season, the museum is not always open on Thursdays. We therefore advise you to make an appointment in advance. That is possible with Geurt Rombach, his telephone numeber. 06 2358 2167.

The entrance is free!

Address: Leidsevaartweg 73 Heemstede


Did you know that?……………


-There is a new water tap point at the Heemstede-Aerdenhout station.

– You can no longer say  “Holland” when you talk about our country,  it must be the Netherlands.

-There is a Sermon of the Leek in the Oude Kerk on Wilhelminaplein, organised by the mayor Astrid Nienhuis, it takes place on the 3rd of November.

-The ice rink in Haarlem is open again. IJsbaanlaan 2 2024 AV Haarlem

-That you can swim in the swimming pool in Heemstede during the autumn holidays, opening hours are available at times

-At the  National Coming Out -Day Adriaan Pauw and the mayor of Heemstede came out with a rainbow bench was by Adriaan Pauw and the mayor.



Due to this season’s humid weather, there are already many beautiful mushrooms in the woods.
Take a walk through the Groenendaal woods and you will come across them.

Mushrooms belong to the fungi. In simple words, a mushroom comes from a fungus, just like an apple that is from an apple tree. Fungi make long threads under the ground.

Mushrooms come in many shapes and sizes. Some mushrooms are edible, but be careful, there also some very toxic species. Some of those inedible species look deceptively similar to edible mushrooms.

Walking in the woods is always a pleasant experience. Landgoed Elswout is another woods to go for a walk. It located is in Overveen. 

If you walk in a dog-free woods, you can also come across a herd of sheep. The sheep leave for the dunes in mid-October.


75 years of liberation from the Second World War

In 2019 and 2020, Europe is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Second World War. The liberation began in June 1944 with the invasion of Normandy (northwest France) and ended in early May 1945. 

After Hitler committed suicide on the 30th of April, the Russian army in Berlin on 2 May, the other Allies (in particular American, Canadian and British troops) conquered in the following days northwest Europe, including the Netherlands. The total liberation of Europe, therefore, took almost a year.

 In the Netherlands, liberation began with the conquest of Breda and Zeeland. The second one was necessary because the Allies had to be able to reach the port of Antwerp (which had already been liberated) via the Westerschelde for supplies. The liberation of Zeeland in September 1944 was a difficult and muddy fight in which the Germans still stubbornly resisted

The start of this fight was on August 31, which started the liberation of the Netherlands, it is celebrated in Terneuzen in the presence of King Willem Alexander and Queen

 Maxima. On the app of the NOS much information is given about the course of the liberation in 1944 and 1945. Look for example on:

Up to and including May 2020 liberation will be celebrated in many places in the Netherlands. In addition, attention will be paid to many years of 75 years of liberation. Obviously, the National Committee 4 & 5 May also made 75 years of liberation the core theme.

As an extension of this, a National program “Freedom Connects” has been drawn up that contains many activities under this theme, which are very interesting for many people, also in Heemstede. For example, the municipality of Heemstede is working on putting together a special book with the theme: Freedom. The flower parade (which will also come through Heemstede on Saturday 25 April 2020)is also a good example, which with the theme “Freedom”, ties in with 75 years of freedom (

 In 2020 the Adriaan Pauw year will be celebrated in Heemstede. After all, it is 400 years ago that Adriaan Pauw bought the Oude Slot and became “Heer van Heemstede”. In 1648, the same Adriaan Pauw was the most important negotiator for the Peace of Münster, when the 80-year war with Spain came to an end. That too is a good reason to link up with the 75 years of Peace theme.



Rowing: a typical Dutch sport with lots of fun

 We Syrians, are not familiar with the Dutch way of rowing in Syria, after moving to Haarlem with my wife, I was quite surprised when I saw people rowing when my Dutch grandmother took me to her rowing club “Het Spaarne¨. Het Spaarne is situated on the river “het Spaarne” in Heemstede. I was very enthusiastic and took a trial membership for 3 months. I am glad that something like a trial membership exits, it is great when you want to try out new things that you are not really sure about. Now I have been a member of the association for 2 years and I am already thinking about taking part in rowing competitions.

Rowing is a very technical sport and every new member must follow lessons first to learn rowing. Lessons are mostly given  1½ hours per week to a group of people, at the same time by experienced coaches. You learn rowing while sitting on a single person boat. Ultimately you have to show that you can row well and then you can get lessons in other types of boats or you will be able to try other techniques of rowing. You can also start sculling; that is with two belts (paddles).

If you have the rowing stroke you can join a four-person boat with a coxswain. Also if you want to row a boat, you must know swimming, that is a mandatory requirement.

Rowing is a great sport, after rowing, we drink coffee together with all rowers and we talk about all kinds of topics. As far as I know, I am the only newcomer, which is a shame because the people at the rowing club are very welcoming.

It is good practice for my Dutch, having a conversation with all rowers while having coffee. Also when you are sitting on the boat, you have to know well what the command means, otherwise you cannot follow what the coxswain is saying. In addition, you always communicate with your fellow rowers and trainers during the rowing lessons, in that way you can learn more Dutch.
Another advantage of rowing is that it helps you concentrate better, it requires concentration. I can only concentrate on rowing and I forget about all other things. Your head is really free from all other kinds of thoughts while rowing. Moreover, it is wonderful that you not all the time have to sit at home, you are in a different atmosphere while rowing.

If you can swim, enjoy outdoor sports and enjoy a typical Dutch sport with other people, then rowing is really something interesting for you. For more information, visit 
or just come and have a look!

Mohamed Alhamwi