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Jean Bingen

special Dutch tie to Kythira from 1960 thru 1971

Below and in the included documents is my short story of a special Dutch tie to Kythira:

To cut short a long story:

Since 1962 I am a regular “visitor” at Kythera and known as Yannis, John or Zan, pending the period and the place I made new friends. In 1966 I met my future wife, Ina, from Holland, in Kato Livadi. Nearly every year afterwards we went to Kythira, also with our two kids who got to love the island as well. We stayed with friends or rented an apartment in Chora, Kapsali or Kato Livadi.

As my wife wanted an own holiday home as close as possible to Kato Livadi we eventually in 2005 bought a property in Fatsadika, just opposite the church, with a fantastic view on the old Katouni bridge and Kato Livadi. We hope that our holiday home will be ready by the end of 2007 and that next year we can celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary at Kythira.

During the years 1960 thru 1971 there existed on the island a team from the World Council of Churches with a Dutch director. This on request of the late bishop Meletios. I have been several times a member of that team, that is why and how I came to know and love the island. As maybe in future somebody would like to write a thesis about the work done on the island in this period and would also like to incorporate the Dutch participation (i.e. fund raising activities) I decided many years ago to try and collect as much info as I could. After the death by the end of 2004 of Mr. Koksma, the Dutch director of the WCC team, I started tracing and locating all names of participants by Internet, phoning, e-mailing and visiting several of them. In this way I collected just in time a lot of information that otherwise could have been lost. This information with some drawings and maps and pictures I have already handed to our friend Mrs. Eleni Charou-Koronaios from Chora.

special Dutch tie to Kythira from 1960 thru 1971 - bingen

This picture of Bishop Meletios with Mrs. and Mr. Koksma, taken probably in the early sixties, has been put at my disposal by the relatives of Mrs. and Mr. Koksma.

Jean Bingen.
To Kythera-family.net

About the WCC-team at Kythera.

The late bishop Meletios issued in 1958 a request for "technical assistance" to the World Council of Churches in Geneva.
In 1959 Mr. J.M. Koksma, civil and architectural engineer, arrived from Holland at Kythera for an investigation for a "community development" of the island and together with bishop Meletios a program for the team's activities was developed.

The actual team's activities were from April 1960 thru September 1971:
Jurjen M. Koksma Ing., architect and civil engineer, Dutch nationality, director. Office in Chora. Born 27th of August 1907, died at Kythira 26th of November 2004.
Anna J. Koksma-Lagendijk, secretary and treasurer, Dutch nationality. Born 4th of March 1911, died at Kythira 19th of December 1993.
They are both buried at the cemetery of Agia Anastasia on the road from Potamos to Karavas.

Throughout the years many persons and supervising boards or committees in Switzerland, Greece and Holland were involved with the teams activities.

Monthly reports in English in the period April 1960 thru September 1971 were made and sent all over the world to those concerned with the progress of the team's programmed projects:
1. reforestation
2. watereconomy
3. roads and harbours
4. animal husbandry
5. education
6. religious themes
7. industry
8. social welfare
9. agricultural reform
10. technical assistance
11. promotion of tourism
(Missing reports in my file: period 1960- July 1965, January thru July 1966, September thru December 1966, January 1967, March 1967, June 1967, August thru December 1967, year 1968, January thru April 1969, July 1969)

Over the years many technical assistants strengthened the team:
Mr. W. Spliethof Ing., teacher at the Technical College Arnhem, The Netherlands, who had met Mr. Koksma at an Inter Church meeting in 1961, took the idea of sending students for their work experience to Kythera, Greece, to the Board of Directors of the school. The Technical College Arnhem adopted this development project at Kythera from 1962 through 1967.
1962 Jean Bingen, Erik Boekaar, Wessel Breunisse, Martin Klerkx, students civil engineering from the Technical College Arnhem, Holland. At Kythira from end of January to mid of July 1962.
And also from Arnhem in:
1963 Jan Hakfoort, Jan Willems, Cees van Dingstee, Wim Leenders
1964 Gerard Helmink, Wim Rijnbeek
1965 Bob Scholten, Hans de Kinkelder (architectural)
1966 Anton Opdam, Lex Pannekoek, Jan Stappers
1967 Frank Berghuys, Harry Wellink
1960-1961 (?) Charley Schroeder, what else did he do apart from putting the governmental forester Jannis Zerlendes (from Krestena) in the teams Jeep to get the tree planting started (the bishop gave the gardens of Myrtidia and asked for seeds from the authorities and grammar school children acted as the first labourers): Charles Schroeder (born 1934) from Minnesota, USA, was before he came to Kythera in charge of animal husbandry for Inter-Church Service in Greek Villages in Katsika near Ioannina.
1960 (?) Frits v.d. Hoeven, just having finished gymnasium. Worked with the team on a sociological review of the island
1961 Keimpe Jellema, architectural engineer. At Kythera from 1961 to end of June 1962.
1962 Dave Vijsma, architectural draughtsman, as from Nov/Dec 1962. Left Kythera in 1964. Returned later to the island as a fysiotherapist for some time
1965 Marinus Rutgers (who was he?)
1965 early July to mid August 1966 Jean Bingen, civil engineer
1967 May to end of year 1967 Wessel Breunisse, civil engineer, accompanied by his wife Tilleke and their 2 young children.
1967 Jan Stappers, civil engineer, from August until last part of the year (he was also a representative of the “Kythera Vriendenkring Nederland”)
1969 July until August 1971 Piet C. Goozen, civil engineer, supervised the work in Mylopotamos (local civil contractors Nassos from Pitsianika and Kosmas Karidis from Kato Chora started in February 1970); in August 1970 also arrived his fiancée Anke de Rooij, school teacher, to help Mrs. Koksma with the administration for the domestic school in Mylopotamos. In the end she also prepared the rebar bending schedules! They left together in August 1971.
1970 two students from Technical University Eindhoven (?) during Piet Goozen his vacation in July 1970
Mrs. Ir. Ida Blok agricultural engineer, from Wageningen University, The Netherlands, end of February 1967 – until end of February 1969
Walther Kupferschmid, architectural engineer, 1965- September 1965?, from Switzerland, Mylopotamos school
Hans-Peter Jann, agricultural specialist, 1965- thru April 1966, from Switzerland, worked at a farm in Paleopolis

Island helpers:
Stefanos ? from Chora, working with the bulldozer (which was donated by "Brot für die Welt")
Panayiotis Kassimatis (o psilos), from Frilingianika, working with the air-compressor
Irini Janiyotis from Kato Livadi, 1st aid of mrs. Koksma, 1960-1961-1962
Dimitra Veneris- Kypriotou from Chora, 1st aid (for 18 years!) of Mrs. Koksma, as from 1963. Also for many many years at Agia Anastasia after 1971.

Larger civil works to be remembered (list not yet complete, over 20 stables, many houses, rural road building etc. not mentioned):
1960: roofing structure market place at Potamos
1962: community water supply in Potamos, Logothetianika, Karavas. Survey and construction for the 1st extension of the landing stage at Kapsali. Topografical survey of Livadi for a future community water supply ststem. (early in the year a topografical survey was made of a larger part of Kapsali for a large hotel plan; at the proposed site in a small forest is now situated the camping of Kapsali)
1963: design of bridge at Diakofti for future harbour plans
1964: start of construction for the domestic school for girls in Mylopotamos
1965: first part poured in November of foundation for the old peoples home in Potamos. In a later year earthquake design and construction drawings were (re)done by most probably the Greek civil engineer Mr. Prineas from Athens. The old peoples home was officially opened 17-08-1975!!
1966: community water supply system for Livadi. Start of topografical survey for future airstrip at Frilingianika. Community water supply tank for Avlemona. Artesian well drilling. Foundation for new church in Diakofti
1967: survey of Fratsia for a community water supply system, start construction of cheese factory at Fratsia. Design and construction of “harbour restaurant” at Kapsali landing stage. Civil contractor Karamitzas from Athens started in July construction of old peoples home in Potamos
1968: community water supply at Fratsia
1969: community building in Chora (was started several years before).
1970: in February the civil contract was let to local contractors to finish the domestic school in Mylopotamos
1971 23rd of September, opening of the domestic school for girls in Mylopotamos
(Dec. 1971 first 18 seat passenger airplane from Athens arrives at Kythira Airport)
(1972 in Kalamos water supply pipes came available for installation)

“Kythera Vriendenkring Nederland”
Mr. and Mrs. Hornstra came to Kythera for their first time in June 1966. Together with Ds. Krol they were leading the first work camp from Vlaardingen, Holland, for the community water supply in Livadi, for which project already as of 1965 all kinds of fund raising activities had been organised.
Mr. and Mrs. Hornstra were the main founders in 1967 of the “Kythera Vriendenkring Nederland”. This “circle of friends” at one time had some 400 registered members and informed its members about the plans and achievements of the WCC team at Kythera by means of the periodical “IRIS” until the end of 1971. The K.V.N. members all over Holland organised many fund-raising drives to provide the WCC team at Kythira with funds for a variety of projects.

Ecumenical work camps (largely organized by "De Oecumenische Jeugdraad" in Utrecht, Holland):
1960: tree planting in Myrtidia (international, but also participants from Kythera)
1964: school Mylopotamos 2 x (excavation of water basin, …)
1965: Seconu (Swiss organisation run by W. Kupferschmid's sister) continuous international camps: June/July/Aug school Mylopotamos. Technical supervision by Walter Kupferschmid and Bob Scholten.
1965: irrigation project Paleopolis, in dry riverbed 1500 m inland. In October 1965 due to torrential rainfall all work was destroyed by the river. Technical supervision by Jean Bingen
1966: school Mylopotamos 2 x, continuation of prefabrication of concrete floor members. Technical supervision by Bob Scholten (who came for a period of 6 weeks from Holland after having finished his studies) and Jan Stappers
1966: community water supply Livadi 2 x . Technical supervision work camps by Anton Opdam and Lex Pannekoek. Overall technical supervision and coordination with local authority by Jean Bingen.
1967: in July cheese factory, excavations and foundation, in Fratsia by youths from ‘s Hertogenbosch, Holland, organized via Kythera Vriendenkring Nederland. Technical supervision work camp by Harry Wellink
1967: in July at Mylopotamos, hole digging as preparation for the tree planting camp that would arrive early 1968, also partly digging of trenches for the community water supply and installing left over prefabricated floor members of last year for the domestic school. Technical supervision work camp by Frank Berghuys. Overall technical supervision work camps by Wessel Breunisse,
1967 where was the announced 3rd work camp?
1968: 1st winter camp (!) in Myrtidia in February, ecumenical "West-Friese" youngsters from the province Noord-Holland, organized via Kythera Vriendenkring Nederland: tree planting in Myrtidia en Dokana. Technical supervision by Ida Blok
1968: planned were 2 camps for the construction of concreted roads in Livadi and a community water supply in Platia Ammos beach near Karavas. In stead of Platia Ammos (survey was available, but not enough money?) Fratsia was chosen. Finishing touch of cheese factory. Technical supervision in Fratsia by Frank (and Riet) Berghuys.
1969: in June Mrs. Koksma organized accommodation in the (elementary) school in Mylopotamos for a (last) work camp: did they come and what did they do??

3 Binders with information on this subject (1. WCC team at Kythera with monthly reports; 2. Kythera Vriendenkring Nederland with Iris periodicals in Dutch language; 3. Dutch news paper clippings) I have already handed to Mrs. Eleni Charou-Koronaios in Chora to be kept in the small historical archive office at the Kastro.

WCC Team Kythira, April 1960 thru September 1971

Monthly Reports, a survey of availability and contents.

These reports were made available by Mrs. Ir. Ida Blok, Mrs. Drs. Ina Bingen-van de Water, Mr. Ing. Piet Goozen and Mrs. Anke Goozen-de Rooij.
Through Mr. Ir. Peter Goedhart from ICCO (Holland) Mr. Georges Tetsis from WCC Geneva has been contacted to check the Geneva archives if any additional documentation still exists.

month Main topics, events, visitors, etc comments
1964 All missing
Jan/July missing
Oct Swiss Seconu work camp at Mylopotamos school. Dutch work camp irrigation project Paleopolis. Photographer Chris-Paul Stapels. Visitors: representatives Munich-university; accountant Mr. Wim Schot from Geneva, Mr. Kijlstra, Mr. Baker, Mr. Athanasiadis. 1st Foundation stone old peoples home in Potamos by Mr. Gregory Kassimatis from Tasmania. Artesian well drilling. Kalamos tree nursery suffers from drought. Construction of stables.
Nov/Dec About the Fraternal Workers Retreat in Athens. Charob tree sugar investigation project. Venting ideas about an overall community development plan. Tree nursery at Agios Theodoros, site donated by Bishop Meletios. Plans for and achievements in water economy, harbour works at Platia Amo and Agia Pelagia. Plans for tourist industry. Cheese making at Fratsia. Young gymnasium student Stanasi Toumbakari. Agricultural reform and the irrigation project at Paleopolis.
End of year Special report: the disastrous autumn rains at Mitata and Paleopolis
Jan/July missing
Aug More than one hundred Dutch young people worked at Kythera in Mylopotamos (school) and Livadi (water supply)! These works have reached the 25% completion! The interaction of islanders and youth from abroad. Kythera agricultural fair in Fratsia. Reconstruction of destroyed Mitata - Viaradika road. New church at Diakofti. New team member is expected to arrive for agricultural matters.
Aug/Sept A special report in Dutch: an empty office, all team members have gone home! How the water supply project at Livadi was adopted by youngsters in Holland. Continuation of this project ensured by Province of Piraeus. Successful artesian well drilling in Livadi. Status Mylopotamos school. Special thanks to ….
Sept/Dec missing
Jan missing
Febr Arrival of new team members. Design of port restaurant at Kapsali landing stage. Topographical survey of Fratsia. Foundation of “Friends of Kythera in Holland” and Bishops Meletios opinion. Plans for work camps in Mylopotamos and Fratsia for their community water supply, but what restriction will be enforced by the Prefecture with regard to an overall island water supply project? Controversies about tree plantation. About the cheese factory project at Fratsia.
March/April No report made according Mr. Koksma’s note in report of May!
May About the Fraternal Workers Retreat in Switzerland. Willingness in Holland to start actions for projects at Kythera and Mr. Vitsos, new Greek Team Director in Athens. Arrival of new team members. Report on some agricultural matters. Electricity for several villages. Topographical survey of Platia Amo, fitting plastic pipelines at Livadi. Restart old peoples home in Potamos.
June missing
July Work camps at Mylopotamos (tree plantation campaign and for a small part community water supply) and Fratsia (cheese factory). Substantial donations for Kapsali port restaurant building and community house at Chora (which was started some 4 years ago). Agricultural report. Status ongoing work old peoples home in Potamos. Photographer Chris-Paul Stapels with co-worker Hugo Post in request of the Dutch I.C.A. About the visit of the Nomarch of Pireus and his requests. The true history on afforestation.
Aug/Dec missing
1968 Complete missing
Jan/April missing
May/June Forester Yannis Zerlendes leaves the island. The departure of Bishop Meletios from his diocese. New funds from Self-Help. Illness of 96 year old doctor Kassapis. Lodging prepared for work camp in Mylopotamos.
July missing
Aug/Sept Church festivities, Bishop Sortiris from Gythion and the bishop of Santorini. The death of a seven year old child. Arrival of a new team member for the school in Mylopotamos. About canning of olives and plums. A lot of road building. Many visitors.
Oct/Nov Last report of the year. Preparing for a home leave. Retrospect of past years. Tourist development plan for Paleopolis. Consequences from the lack of rain. Fruit canning project.
April 1st About meeting Queen Juliana from Holland. Many other meetings in Holland. Meeting the Dutch ambassador for Greece in Athens. Civil achievements at Kythera from the last 4 months.
July 1st Seeds from CARE (like every year). Canning project in Karavas. Status of school construction in Mylopotamos. Piano lessons in Potamos. Tourist development plan Paleopolis should not in any way damage archeological sites (Prof. Huxley). Afforestation. Construction of stables. Avlemona harbour improvements. Construction of water system in Mylopotamos on its way.
July/Sept Arrival of new team member to assist in required administration for the school project in Mylopotamos. Pear canning in Karavas.
Oct/Dec High yield of olives. Plastic warehouses. Increasing construction costs for the school in Mylopotamos.
Jan/March Advantages of growing vegetables under plastic sheeting. Seeds from CARE could be distributed. Status of school construction.
April/June Mr. and Mrs. Koksma 6 weeks away from Kythera. Finding extra funds in Geneva and Holland to compensate rising costs to finish the Mylopotamos school building. Status of school construction. Fare well words for and from two team members who worked for the school and therefore lived in Mylopotamos.
Last report Last report of the WCC Kythera Team. Short (very short!) retrospective to what was achieved and or intended, who supplied the funds for a variety of projects. Closing after nearly 12 years of the WCC Geneva church sponsored pilot project for community development. Reference to a Dutch article of Mr. Rein Kuin in “Werelddiakonaat” nr. 12 May 1969: Kythera renowned as example of an integral dealing with problems.
Inauguration of the home economic school in Mylopotamos.
Mr. and Mrs. Koksma’s decided to stay at Kythera, at Agia Anastasia.
1972 Letter of thanks in Dutch.
Mr. Gerard Hornstra, main founder of the “Kythera Vriendenkring Nederland” had organized a fare well party January 8 for Mr. and Mrs. Koksma in Holland.

WCC team and Dutch organizations and or institutes

Kythera Vriendenkring Nederland: KVN

The main subjects in their periodical IRIS which was written in Dutch. Of special interest are the ways money was raised.
Nr. Issue
Year & nr. Subjects
1 1967
1st year
nr. 1- April Introduction of KVN as a result of the campaign for the water supply for Livadi and Katouni in 1965 and 1966. First contacts with Stichting Oecumenische Hulp (SOH = Foundation Ecumenical Aid). Committee of recommendation. About Kythera and the team’s programme. Campaign: Water for Fratsia (from the town ‘s Hertogenbosch).
2 1967
1st year
nr. 2- June The team and the new political situation in Greece. New members strengthening the team. Achievements. Ways of fund raising drives.
3 1967
1st year
nr. 3- Sept Achievements, see also map of Kythera (status end of 1965). Reforestation (picture of tree nursery is at Kalamos; existed only in 1966). Weird fund raising and walking for Kythera.
4 1967
1st year
nr. 4- Dec Organization of the KVN and its financial responsibility. Re: the team and the new political situation in Greece. About icons. Achievements, work camps. Fund raisings and especially in West-Friesland. A home for Kula: plans for an old peoples home at Chora.
5 1968
2nd year
nr. 1- April Achievements, donation for domestic school in Mylopotamos. Increase of KVN members. Water economy, drilling of wells, community water supply. First work camp in winter period: tree planting. Activities.
6 1968
2nd year
nr. 2- Aug Mr. Hornstra’s visit to Kythera. Why still financial help for Kythera? The domestic school in Mylopotamos. A home also for Mitsos: plans for an old peoples home at Chora. Minoan settlement at Paleopolis. Transportation costs for tree planting by work camp. Walking for Kythera: for a stable in Drimona. Fund raising to strengthen the team in 1969 with a civil engineer.
7 1969
3rd year
nr. 1- April How IRIS got some 20.000 extra readers. About the continuation of the team’s work: the domestic school in Mylopotamos, the cheese factory in Fratsia, the old peoples home in Potamos, the community building and the plans for an old peoples home in Chora. Epiretis, a periodical in Greek by the team, is mentioned. Large contributions from the Greek government and financial support from abroad. Financial overview KVN. Letters from Kythera.
8 1969
3rd year
nr. 2- Oct The continuation of the team’s work. New member strengthening the team. Letter from Mrs. Ida Blok, agricultural engineer and former team member. Activities. A home for Kula, Mitsos and Maria and doctor Kassapis. Walking for Kythera. Fund raising for a manager for the cheese factory in Fratsia.
9 1970
4th year
nr. 1 The continuation of the team’s work. Influence of Greek government. Financial overview 1969. Article: Educational systems and future plans (1). Examples of Greek items that are being sold at fancy fairs. Status of fund for cheese factory in Fratsia.
10 1970
4th year
nr. 2 New activities coming period. Educational systems and future plans (2). 7 Stables at Kythera, more cows, less goats, more trees. Status of funds for cheese factory and for a home for Kula. Article: Pappa Manolli from Mylopotamos, by Mrs. Ida Blok.
11 1970
4th year
nr. 3 Forecast: the team’s activities will stop end of 1972. About the required 7 stables. Article: first impression, by new team member. International cooperation and intermediary ICCO: to finalize the domestic school. Translated page of March 31 of the Kytherian newspaper. KVN, its working capital compared to profits for Kythera. Article about the manager for the cheese factory. Examples of how and where funds for Kythera were raised.
12 1971
5th year
nr. 1 About the required 7 stables to 7 different families. The 8th stable. Domestic school in Mylopotamos, article by Mrs. Koksma. Madame Chrysa, article by Mrs. Ida Blok. Walking for Kythera: 6th year.
13 1971
5th year
nr. 2 Last IRIS! The team’s activities are terminated by the end of September, the KVN will be discontinued. Parting of Kythera, by KVN and SOH. Parting of IRIS: a retrospective, by Mr. Koksma. His philosophy on how development assistance should be executed. Opening of domestic school in Mylopotamos. The fund raised for “a home for Kula” goes to the old peoples home in Potamos. To our Kythera friends: by Mrs. and Mr. Koksma. The last mileage.
1972, May? Who has still a copy of the final KVN financial overview???

Also in Dutch language:

Orgaan van de Stichting GENOOTSCHAP HELLAS
Monthly periodical of the “Foundation Fellowship Hellas”
• 1964, May: article “the revival of Kythera” by Mrs. G.A. Hinlopen-Nanninga
• 1966, July/Aug: article “road at Kythera”
• 1967, April: article “Kythera Vriendenkring Nederland” its introduction

Monthly periodical of the “Foundation Ecumenical Aid to Churches and Refugees”
• 1965, April: “letter from Kythera”
• 1967, Sept: “Kythera” about the WCC team and its work at the island
• 1969, May: “Kythera” about the WCC team and its work at the island. IRIS 1969 nr. 1 included. Also included a financial overview Kythera-project 1960-1968

Unknown source (probably SOH)
• 1964, dok. 133/64: “Kythera”

Stichting Oecumenische Hulp aan kerken en vluchtelingen (SOH).
“Foundation Ecumenical Aid to Churches and Refugees”
• 1966, SOH 11/66: “The Island of Kythera and its Inter-Church Team” (by Mr. J.M. Koksma)

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1 Comment

Vikki Vrettos Fraioli
on 21.03.2008

See also: A Tale of Paliochora, a joint project of George Koksma and Anastacia Conomos Condas, late president of the Kytherian Society of California.