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October 13 , 2009

An Orphan’s Lure of the Far East


The elder of the two brothers, Hendrik, was the first to leave the orphanage and he joined the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC) and sailed to Asia. Unfortunately, he was never destined to reach his land of opportunity. Ironically, it was at the Cape of Good Hope that Hendrik lost his life.

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When the younger brother Nicolaas came of age and like his brother, he too joined up with the VOC and ventured to the Far East. Fortunately, he survived the extremely dangerous and long journey and arrived in the Dutch fashioned Asiatic town of Batavia, in Indonesia. From Indonesia, he arrived in a tiny Dutch colony of Malacca. There, Nicolaas not only made his fortune but also found the love of his life and made a new home for himself and his family. He remained in Malacca and never returned to Holland.

It is a familiar tale that invokes the humanity in us to recall the bonds of relationships and the frailty of life that many of us have experienced. It is also the story of a family’s ancestor and the tale of his struggles and hopes that have since been forgotten.

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