Founder (Masarang International), board member
Steven (1971) founded the Masarang International Foundation on behalf of Willie Smits in 2010. The foundation aims to create visibility for the environmental projects of Masarang and make them known outside of Indonesia as well. Steven has worked as an entrepreneur and manager previously. He started the company Morningstar in the Benelux in 2000. He then led the Benelux and France regions for this U.S. Multinational in investment research until 2009. In early 2009 he decided to leave and take a sabbatical in which he also studied in the U.S. Because of his concern about environmental issues he came into contact with Willie Smits, who had made an impression on him by his selfless, brilliant and passionate commitment to the environment. Today he gives shape to Masarang International as an unpaid volunteer, together with Willie.
Prior to his work at Morningstar, Steven held various positions in the investment world and in consulting, respectively at Robeco and Deloitte Corporate Finance. He has a master’s degree in Business Economics from the University of Amsterdam (1997) and completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School (2009).
Wim van de Meerendonk
Wim is active as a volunteer for Masarang since June 2012. His first encounter with Willie Smits was through the book “The thinkers of the jungle”, that hit him. Not only because of the beauty of the thought concepts of Willie, but also because of the terrible deforestation and the degradation of the biodiversity of the past 20 years. A theme that has troubled him since his childhood. When Willie advertised for Tasikoki, the animal shelter centum on Sulawesi, at a gathering in the Netherlands, Wim did not hesitate and went there to help. It was a great experience!
Wim is a biologist and works at Rijkswaterstaat, where he is consultant in the field of soil policies (management, sanitation, and research). In the past he has advised companies in this field, he has done several years of research at the university (at the interface of cell biology and biopolymers). During a 15-month trip in South and Central America, “he rediscovered his love of nature, and there he saw the relationship between extreme wealth, poverty, deforestation and corruption exerts its devastating effect on everyday life, and the future put our planet at risk.
Since June 2012, Esther works as a volunteer for the foundation Masarang International. She was like many Dutch inspired by the Dutch TV programm “The reunion” in which Willie Smits told his story including the animal rescue center Tasikoki. That same year, in October 2011 she traveled for a month to Tasikoki to volunteer there. This was an indescribable experience and she was surprised how much fun it is to work with animals and especially with animals that we do not directly encounter in our daily lives here in Europe. Furthermore Tasikoki is a very idyllic spot and she has enjoyed the intense nature there. In 2012 came the opportunity to work for Masarang International. Then came back the same energy that she had experienced in Tasikoki on Sulawesi.
The strong story of Masarang about how to monitor, maintain and reforest nature in co-operation with the local population speaks to her mind. In everyday life, Esther works as a freelancer and put her services in several projects as a project manager and planner.
Rowena Façee Schaeffer
Since 2015 Rowena is working for Masarang International wherever she is needed. When watching a Dutch TV program “The Reunion” in which Willie Smits was in the spotlight, she decided to actually do something for the endangered wildlife. As a volunteer every Friday she takes care of traumatised Chimpanzees at ‘Stichting AAP’ in Almere and 2 times a year she travels to Wildlife Rescue Centers ‘somewhere’ in the world to work there for a couple of weeks also as a volunteer. Also in the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center, founded by Willie Smits, she worked for several weeks. With her own foundation ‘Rowena Goes Ape’ she raises money for projects and organisations dedicated to the cause. In addition she blogs about the various issues related to the cause and is very active on social media. Having worked in Rescue Centers in Asia she saw with their own eyes the impact of the large-scale deforestation, mostly by the oil palm industry. Since then she is committed to Masarang.
In everyday life Rowena works as a communications manager at a municipality in South Holland.
Since early 2013 I’m working for Masarang as a local project manager in Indonesia. The first year and a half I was based in North Sulawesi, where the headquarters of the foundation Masarang are located in Tomohon and since May 2014 in Sintang, West Kalimantan, because since then most of the projects were located in that region.
What appealed to me most about Masarang is the holistic approach to projects. To prevent a farmer selling a piece of his land (for example to pay for the school of his children), he will have to get some income from somewhere else. Because we work with the local people and farmers and enable them to earn a good income from forest products, but without damging the forest, we can ensure that farmers will continue to actively protect the forest. This in combination with reforestation of damaged areas, giving out scholarships to local scholars and students, cooperation with the government from the most local level up to the national level, to build zero-waste manufacturing facilities to process products near the source into marketable products and add local value and selling the products locally and internationally, makes it a complete approach that can really give the people a better, greener future.
With the demonstration of this approach, we hope to motivate people around the world to do things in a different way and to challenge people and businesses to do their activities in a different, more sustainable way and not to the ‘business as usual’ manner, in order to make it possible to create a society where we can live independently of fossil fuels and monoculture plantations. I am proud to be able to be part of the solution.
In December 2010 Masarang International was founded in the Netherlands, with its aim to promote awareness of the projects of Masarang Indonesia and raise money for them.
All the board members and collaborators of Masarang International are volunteers and receive no expenses or salary.