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Jacque Ford

Both my parents are Indo’s. They met in their teen years here in Southern California. In my generation, (80’s kid) most “Indo” kids did not come from both parents of Dutch Indonesian decent. All my mom and dad’s Generation, who all mostly shared the story of their parents being in concentration camps on the island, married outside of the Indo race. Like my cousins, they are Dutch Indo and Hispanic. But not us Benjamin’s kids. In our area, we where the last of the Dutch Indo’s. I am sure there are more in my generation, but in my life time I have only met 1 or 2. This alone has always made me feel very unique.

Its a question that comes up almost on a weekly basis. “What nationality are you?’ I am a green eyed Indo. I got my eyes from my dad. The combination of my dark skin and light green eyes always made people approach me to ask if I was Hawaiian, Greek, Mexican, Jewish, Black, Mulatto…There where so many guess’s, I couldn’t list them all. And when I would tell them what I actually was, it was always the same response. “Dutch-Indo what?” A lot of people didn’t even know what Indonesian was! I would end up telling them the history of my Oma and Opa being raised in Sumatra and Jakarta, the war, the struggle of finding a home after the war, and the move to Southern California. I love telling the story. And it seems like people love to hear it. Its a good story.

I wouldn’t be a true Indo if I didn’t talk about the food. OH the food! Satay, Gado Gado, Peanut sauce, Sambal, Nasi Goreng, Ayam Goreng, Rendang, and Lemper. Just to name a few. Literally a few! There is so much more! The smell of shrimp paste at my Oma’s house in the evenings will always stick in my brain. My Oma and Opa never used the AC so it was always hot and humid in their house, but it was just how they liked it! (and it saved them money! Those Indo’s are penny pincher’s!) She would have her wok out frying something delicious for dinner.

Sambal was always on the table no matter if it was spaghetti, or a rice dish. Our food meant a lot to us. Everything was usually surrounded by what my Oma made. The food always brought us together, even if just for a moment. That is where a lot of my Oma and Opa’s stories of their time in the prison camps came out. We always ate all of our food on our plates. People not having food was not this distant Chinese kid we didn’t know, starving in China. My Oma and Opa starved in those prison camps. So food was sacred, and we ate every last bite. Indo’s love to party!! I remember being small and going to the Rosie parties. Lots of dancing, drinking, smoking, and dirty jokes! It was a cluster of dark Asian people speaking Dutch.

Its a very confusing sight to someone who has not been introduced to the Indo culture. They where loud, funny, and loved to eat. We really are a beautiful, unique group of people. Especially the old Indo’s. They have a history that us younger Indo’s will never know. Looking back now, and remembering them celebrating and having such a good time together is almost symbolic of them rejoicing in that they have been through so much, and that they survived. They would shut down the parties, staying up late and finish out their fun with a cup of coffee and a smoke. .

Growing up Indo, my friends always knew my family and I were different. My brother and sister and I were very California cultured but when we would whip out our Muisjes sandwich for lunch (chocolate sprinkle sandwich) our friends looked at us confused. Some of our friends embraced the food and loved it. Some would squirm and I knew instantly, my Oma would NOT like this friend! HAHA! The friends that hung around where the ones comfortable around my Oma to let her slap them up side their heads with her house slufflje (her slipper) or feed them a rice dish even if they said they where not hungry.

As much as my Oma and Opa laid down their house rules and demanded good behavior, it was the only place I really ever wanted to be. Swimming all day, a never ending supply of food and treats, and all my Opa’s wild animal friends. He would feed Lizards, humming birds, wild crows, and let us hand feed his beautiful Koi fish, dead fly’s! I had an amazing childhood and I wouldn’t change it for anything! I am very thankful for being brought up in such a unique, tradition filled culture. My kids, who are mixed, will never truly know the magic of this culture like I did. All I can do is keep it alive by the food and the stories. I am proud to be an SoCal Indo and will do my best to keep the memories alive.

-Jacque Ford

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Jamie Stern

When SoCal Indo asked me to be an “Indo of the Month”, and tell my story, it felt like such an honor – and then immediately I wondered “Where do I even begin?!”

My path to Indo enlightenment was ridiculously disjointed at the beginning. I started off at the age of 22 having no idea that I was Indo. I knew my Oma and Opa immigrated to the US in the early 1960s, they spoke Dutch, and Opa looked Indonesian. In early December each year, we went to see Sinterklaas at the Dutch Bakery (now the Holland International Market) in Bellflower, CA. At home, we enjoyed Indonesian food and variations of dishes that I did not realize were Dutch-Indo. My family was small and my grandparents passed away early in my life. So the extent of my knowledge regarding my heritage was very limited until I found The Indo Project (TIP).

TIP was in its infancy, when I came knocking on their virtual door here on social media. I began asking questions for a research project related to my second Master’s degree program which focused on human geography and migration. It all unfolded from there. Fast forward eight years later, and I’m the Director of Research for TIP and working on my third Master’s degree program (now studying psychology and trauma) which will lead into Doctoral research. As a social scientist, I don’t see my quest for knowledge ever stopping – and the Indo people, my people, is where my heart is fixated.

In August of 2016, I was an invited scholar and speaker at a week-long conference at Leiden University, Netherlands, to present my TIP research findings on the neuropsychological health of the Indo people post-Diaspora. The data that I gathered over a period of five years provided the rubric for a new project that involves the use of Neurofeedback therapy. Neurofeedback is a branch of biofeedback that trains the brain to function more optimally. My past findings have substantiated that the Indo people continue to experience symptoms of PTSD connected to World War II experiences and civil upheaval that resulted in ethnic cleansing. The traumas clearly continue to linger in the subsequent generation. These findings have demonstrated the connection between individual emotional and physical traumas, and lasting negative impacts that have systemically altered the Indo population at large. This research has become my raison d’être (reason to be) combining my love of cultural geography, neuroscience and psychology.

Being active with The Indo Project allowed me to create the first ever Worldwide Indo Survey. This data collection has resulted in the first database to analyze the Indo population post-Diaspora. The original maps that I’ve produced for TIP have been used by the Dutch Consulate in San Francisco, CA. These maps illustrate our major population hubs as well as minor outposts that are scattered across the US. Southern California is home to the largest Indo population outside of the Netherlands. I feel that the existence of SoCal Indo is already such a precious and important social construct for us Indos because it is helping to perpetuate our cultural ties and unity. This unity was waning as our first generation of Indos were passing. So many younger Indos such as myself were disjointed from our heritage, not even knowing what to call ourselves. Further fractured by the inability to speak Dutch, many young Indos are unable to access information because of the language barrier. I beseech Indos who speak Dutch and English to translate relevant articles, books, and movies for their younger family members. If they’d like to voluntarily submit these translations to TIP so that other Indos may benefit, we would deeply appreciate it. Feel free to reach out to me if interested! Michael Passage, founder of SoCal Indo and Ben Von Stockhausen recently completed an incredible task in translating a Dutch Docu-Drama into English for the benefit of a multigenerational Indo audience. Such good things are happening!
With TIP’s mission to educate and preserve our culture and SoCal Indo’s vigor, brand, and exciting gatherings – the Indo culture stands a chance to survive at least another generation. In a time where our young people want to know where their families came from, TIP and SoCal Indo are positioned to keep the Indo experience relevant and the passion of the Indo spirit alive.
Contact Jamie and The Indo Project:

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Sarah Niebuhr

My Indo Story Hi! I’m Sara and I live in beautiful Orange County, California, where I was born and raised. I graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a dream of traveling the world. This dream became a reality when I became a flight attendant. Throughout my career, I lived and worked in multiple places including New York, New Jersey, Maui, Seattle and Southern California. I always said that I never wanted to move back to “The O.C.”. Well, after over 12 years, I finally did. In case you are wondering, what brought me back other than the sunshine? It was my kids (everything is about the kids, right?!) … for them to be close to family as well as being able to take advantage of help from my parents while my husband and I focused on our careers. As most of you know, for Dutch-Indonesians, family is everything. I’m married to a native East Coast man and we have 2 beautiful children – a daughter and a son. Luckily, my husband loves traveling as much as I do and there is no doubt that we passed that on to our kids. My husband is not Dutch-Indo but he is of European decent. He often tries to see if he can get tanner than me in the summertime but he has yet to win. My olive skin gives me the advantage. Being a mother and wife are my first and most important roles. On top of being a stay at home mom, I am an active volunteer in the community. I chair two committees with the Daughters of the American Revolution, one focusing on active duty military and the other on veterans. I am also the Parent Association President at my children’s school. And in between all of that, I am privileged to help others focus on whole body health through my Arbonne business. Now, on to my family history … I am a first-generation Dutch-Indo born in The United States. My mother was born on the small island of Belitung, Indonesia. My dad is an American with German and Irish decent. I have always loved learning about my relatives and ancestors and researching to see how far back I can go. On my father’s side, I can trace back to just before the American Revolution. On my mom’s side, I can only trace back to my great great Opa. I have quite a bit more work there and am eager to learn more. If you have ever worked on family history, you will understand the further back you go in time, the more difficult it is to find proof of lineage. I am proud of my Dutch-Indo heritage. My Oma and Opa were as well. Opa served in the Royal Netherlands Navy during World War II. He was on Hr. Ms. Kruiser de Ruyter and was a survivor of the Battle of the Java Sea. On February 27, 1942 from the top of the ship mast, Opa saw the torpedo launched from a Japanese submarine. That torpedo hit his ship and sunk it. Opa spent 3 days in the water before being “rescued” by the Japanese and then spent 3 ½ years as a POW. As many other Dutch-Indo POWs, he was eventually placed in Thailand to work on the Burma Railroad. Opa never talked about his time as a POW. However, while working on a history project for high school, I managed to record an interview with Opa on cassette tape. This was the first time he talked about his time in the Dutch Navy, what happened at the Battle of the Java Sea, and his time as a POW. Over the past couple years, my family and I would talk to Opa about his life. It was becoming more and more important to document what we could as he was in his late 90’s and our time with him was becoming limited. He passed on March 3, 2017 at the ripe age of 98. He was the last living survivor of Hr. Ms. Kruiser de Ruyter. Oma was an amazing woman and the best cook. There was always food and she never let anyone leave hungry. Oh, how I miss going to their home, walking inside and smelling all the delicious homemade meals (ok … my mouth is totally watering right now!). Nasi Goreng, Bami, Lumpia, Rosestroop, Sate, Lumpia, Lempur, Agar Agar, Chicken Semur, Opor Ayam, Pisang Goreng. You name it- she made it! And of course, let’s not forget the coffee or Muisjes! Both were staples in their home, my parents’ home, and now my home. Oma was not only an exceptional cook, but she was also a strong woman. She was raised in Yogyakarta and endured 2 years of labor in a women’s camp during World War II on the island of Java under Japanese occupation. She was a devout Catholic who raised 5 children, all born in Indonesia. Opa worked mostly away from home. Because of this and, much like many mothers, her focus was on her children. One of the things I love most about being Dutch-Indo is that people often have a difficult time guessing my heritage. I often get Hawaiian, Brazilian, Mexican, Italian, Spanish, mulatto …. But never Indo. I frequently remind my children of the importance of learning about our family. It’s not just about the four of us but it’s about their grandparents, aunts, and uncles that go back generations before us. Oma & Opa worked hard to provide a good life for their children whether it was in Indonesia, Holland or The United States, where they all became American Citizens. Oma & Opa welcomed everyone into their home and were the most giving and loving couple. They loved their children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren. They set an example of how we should live through generosity and love. My hope is to pass that on to future generations.

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Hanneke Olsen

I am a child of the 1950’s, born on the island of Java in the capital city of Jakarta.  The country of my birth was a very young Republik Indonesia, it’s independence officially recognized by it’s former colonial ruler, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, on December 27, 1949.  Two of my siblings were born in Soerabaja, Netherlands East Indies, and three were born in Surabaya, Indonesia. It seems odd, but such were the politics of the times. It is often a point of debate, since the older siblings were born during the Merdeka period, the movement towards independence, when the islands were technically still under Dutch rule, despite the Declaration of Independence made on August 17, 1945.

My father is Robert Monod de Froideville, whose Dutch-French father was a colonial civil servant (Assistent Resident) in Djambi province, Sumatra.  His biological mother was Javanese, and my father lived with her until he was about 5 years old, when he was sent to the Netherlands to be schooled. He was raised as an only child by his Dutch stepmother’s parents, so long as his father and stepmother served in the colony.  I have a few pictures of his holidays spent as a boy with his parents in Sibolga and Djambi.  Photos of him in the Netherlands were as a teenager and a young man.  Only later did I realize these were taken before and either during or just after the German occupation.  Unfortunately, his father had been captured as a political hostage by the Germans, being in Holland on a furlough from his colonial duties.  He spent nearly the entire occupation years in Buchenwald and Theresienstadt concentration camps.  I have his photos and correspondence from those years.  Because of his father’s imprisonment, leaving his mother defenseless, my father went underground to also avoid capture.  At 18 with dark skin, he would certainly have been forced into labor camps.  He managed to continue his pharmaceutical studies during this time.  Immediately upon Germany’s surrender, my father enlisted in the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps, assigned to the “Mariniers Brigade,” a rag tag group of military men just liberated from the German POW camps, sent to train with the USMC to Camp LeJeune to be sent to liberate the Netherlands East Indies from the Japanese.  By the time his detail arrived in Soerabaja, Japan had just surrendered, and the Marines were to help return the colony to it’s former status. My father was dark skinned with strong European features, except for his almond shaped eyes.  Quite naturally, locals approached him speaking in Malayan dialect.  Having lost his native tongue in childhood, he had to turn to the very fair skinned, fair haired, Indisch Marine to interpret!  This interpreter, introduced his Lieutenant to his family, and one of his sisters was very much interested!

My mother is Wilhelmina, born in the Netherlands to a Dutch father and a Dutch-French-Asian heritage mother.  Conflicting stories in the family identifies the Asian faction as either Japanese or “French Indo-Chinese” (today’s Vietnamese.) I’m hoping a DNA test might settle that question one day.  When my mother was 5 years old, her father decided to seek his fortune in the Netherlands East Indies, and settled his family in Soerabaja & outlying areas near there.  He became a successful newspaper publisher of the “Kedirische Courant,” and the family lived in reasonable opulence.  Legend was my grandparents were crazy about each other, with a final count of 12 children to prove it.  My mother was inclined to play with the children of the household staff, easily picking up the Malay & Javanese dialects.  Her older sister, however, insisted on maintaining an aristocratic Dutch manner, refusing to speak any local dialects.  Thus for a time, neither sister could converse with the other, unless an interpreter was present. The pre-war years were idyllic for my mother’s family, as it was for many Dutch Indonesians holding Dutch nationality.  Less than idyllic for those of mixed ethnicity whose claim to Dutch parentage was not acknowledged and legitimized.  The Japanese occupation turned the tide on my mother’s lifestyle.  Her father and oldest two brothers were hastily pressed into service with the Royal Netherlands Indies Army (KNIL,) and two others joined the KNIL and Royal Netherlands Marine Corp, despite being underage. These two teenagers lost their lives in the first days of the Japanese invasion.  The others were captured and interred in a POW camp in Soerabaja, where my mother had to witness torture on them as punishment for passing along transcribed broadcasts from Voice of America.  My mother’s family remained “buitenkampers” outside the “protection” of the civilian camps during the Japanese occupation (after liberation as well, during the subsequent revolution.)  She and her sister ended up having to work as “dance hostesses” at a social club for Japanese officers.  My oldest sister was fathered by one of these officers.  Such were some of the war experiences.

When my parents were introduced to each other at the start of the revolution, the connection was immediate, as was the connection between my toddler aged Japanese-Indo sister and this new “Oom Bob.”  Within just a few weeks they were married, although it required validation with Dutch authorities in the Netherlands, and permission from the Dutch Queen.  Thus followed a marriage by proxy some months later, with mother in Haarlem, the Netherlands, holding hands with her father as the stand-in for  the intended groom, wearing the groom’s gloves.  My father was still fighting on Java, and whether anyone stood in for his bride on that day was never made clear.

After the Acknowledgment of Sovereignty, my parents decided to remain in the new republic, maintaining their Dutch nationality. The exterior walls of their home were painted in large letters with the words “Dutch Home.”  This clearly identified those Dutch nationals from the Indonesian warganegara, or citizens.  My father held a good position as a banker, and later as a chemist.  Beginning in late 1957 there was political pressure forcing Dutch nationals from the country.  Our family was notified in January of 1958, by vandalism to our home, and notes secured to rocks crashing through the windows.  Three days were given to liquidate assets and secure passage to the Netherlands.  Military troop ships became overcrowded immigrant ships.  Conditions onboard were far from the cruise voyages these ships had previously made.  We islanders in our tropical clothing arrived to a fogged in harbor at Rotterdam, preventing disembarking for three days, anchoring at sea outside the harbor.  Helicopters made humanitarian trips to the ship to drop bundles of cast-off winter clothing.  Once in port, passengers were quarantined and de-loused by fumigation, long tresses clipped short for expediency.  We were boarded with another family, sharing rooms in a “contract pension.”  This was a boarding house leased with government subsidies, which the Dutch citizenry mistakenly construed as free hand outs.  Ration coupons for groceries were held “in trust” by the house master, which invariably resulted in food shortages at the end of the month.

The following year, we moved to Utrecht.  Citing the cold winters and better educational opportunities for their large brood, we immigrated to the USA, having had a status change from “repatriates” to “refugees,” thanks to the US Congressional Pastore-Walter act.  We arrived in August 1962, settling in Southern California. We were fortunate in the early years to find a small Pasadena neighborhood of mostly Dutch-Indonesian immigrant families, and they greatly helped us assimilate. The following year, the Indo Community Center-de Soos was formed, which was a social club for Dutch-Indonesian immigrant families who all shared experiences similar to our own.  This club helped cement our identity in our adopted country, where we slowly defined ourselves more as Indo than Indisch, and where the moniker became more a source of pride than shame. As these families became integrated in American society and new generations took hold, it became challenging to maintain the strength and awareness of the dying culture in mainstream American lives.

I myself became an RN, and have retired from that very satisfying career.  I have married twice, first to a Chinese-Indonesian with whom I now have three wonderful, loving, generous adult children, Maurice, Donovan, and Lia.  Their father returned to Indonesia and they visit each other whenever possible.  They are fortunate that we have all maintained good relationships with their Indonesian side of the family.  My second husband is from the Midwest, descendant of German and Norwegian pioneers.  His great grandmother was the first Caucasian child born in Dakota territory.  His name is Scott Olson, and we’ve been married 28 years.   We have no children together, but he has loved my kids as his own from the very beginning. Surprisingly, we have much in common: large Catholic families, similar family values, similar taste in big band music growing up, similar dance styles. Yes! The first American man with whom I could jive!!!  We have been to the Netherlands together, a most memorable trip.  While the kids and I have made several trips back to Indonesia, he has never been.  We have been to Hawaii however, and I’ve pointed out the similarities to give him an idea of the tropical life.  Maybe some day….

In closing, I wish to applaud the tireless efforts by seasoned Indo immigrants to share the Indo Dutch culture, among them the late Tjalie Robinson, and happily still with us, Rene Creutzburg.  De Soos which they helped establish has been an anchor for the community, from which the subsequent generations of Indo Dutch Americans have drawn knowledge, strength, and lifestyle.  The current efforts of the younger generations, among them Michael Passage and the SoCal Indos, and Jeff Keasberry, with his “Indo Dutch Kitchen Secrets” in both English and Dutch, as well as their myriad activities with Dutch, Indonesian, and Indo Dutch organizations, these are also to be commended for keeping the cultural fires burning for their peers.  My kids are stoked!  Thank you so very, very much!

Sincerely yours,

Hanneke Olson

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Michelle Milane

My name is Michelle Milane’ and I am proud to say I am a Dutch Indo who was born and raised in Southern California! A little history behind the creation of how I came into this world will give you a better perspective of who I am as an individual.
Simon Cornelius James Van Lommel, born in November 1910 in Djarkarta, Indonesia, met Fredrika (Hoorn) born in July 1925. Fredrika was adopted at a young age by a Dutch family during the war. Fredrika’s maiden name was Tjin Lan Tjhin (Chinese decent). After World War II ended in 1945, Simon (Opa) was in the Dutch Army stationed in Banka Indonesia. Opa was in a prisoner of war camp at that time. The Army was there to protect the civilians of Banka.  There is where Opa met Fredrika (Oma). Opa and Oma married in March 1948 in Banka, Pankal Pinang Indonesia.  Opa and Oma had six children: five daughters and one son.
The Van Lommels’ migrated from Indonesia to Holland in 1957 on the SS Cranson Victory later renamed the Zuiderkruis. The Van Lommel family lived in Holland from 1957 until 1962 when they flew to New York (Ellis Island), then boarded a train to make their long journey to California.  Opa then purchased a home in the city of Norwalk where the Van Lommels established their roots.
My mother Nelly being the second oldest child used to go with her parents to a Dutch Indo Club called De Soos. These gatherings were usually held in Pasadena California and there would always be an Indo band playing music and delicious Indo food was served.  One of the bands that often played at the club was The Majestic 5. The leader of the band was Fritz Fredzess. Fritz lived right across the street from Opa and Oma Van Lommel. The band would oftentimes practice in Fritzes garage and my mother would hang out with the band and listen to them play. That is how my mother met my father John Milane who was the drummer.
Piet Milane and Marie Milane also lived in Indonesia, moved to Holland then migrated to the United States due to the cold climate. They established residency in the city of Long Beach.
My parents married in July 1972.  I entered this world in June 1976 and my youngest sister was born in July 1980.
I oftentimes find myself reminiscing about the past more specifically about the family gatherings our family used to have at Opa and Oma Van Lommel’s house. The distinct smells of Indo spices filled the air as I walked into the house through the kitchen door. Oma always had various pots filled with delicious Indo soups, meats, vegetables marinating in coconut milk and of course an oversized rice cooker that always had hot rice in it. I recall Oma Van Lommel saying, “It takes hours to cook good Indo food. You cannot rush.” That is so true, you cannot rush good cooking.

Oma had a white stool with a metal backing on it located right next to the refrigerator. I used to sit on that stool and watch her work her cooking talent with all of the spices and ingredients she used. Oma would never use a measuring cup or measuring spoons. Everything was done by taste or by sight.  All of Oma’s food came out so delicious! I sure miss all of her cooking.

Family gatherings were very important to the Van Lommels. We would gather to socialize, cousins came together to play and of course the one thing we did best is eat Oma’s home cooked Indo food! These are definitely priceless memories that have definitely carried on into my adult life.
As the circle of life continues to evolve, sadly all four of my grandparents have since passed away.  Even though they are no longer here physically I can honestly say they have left a lifetime legacy of fond memories that I will cherish until the end of my days. Some of my favorite memories and advice Oma Lommel gave me was, “Go to school, go to college then worry about a boyfriend.” “Get good grades, get a good job then you will be successful.” Oma Milane would say, “Why don’t you be a Doctor or a Lawyer? They make good money.” And another one of my favorites was, “Eat, eat some more its ok there is so much food.” “Are you sure you are full? You barely ate.”
I was especially close to my Oma Lommel for which I still feel I can have conversations with her whenever I visit the ocean.  Her presence can be felt and my mind always leaves with a peaceful heart and a clear mind.  Whenever I am stressed out about life or if I just need to talk with Oma I will drive myself down to the ocean just to obtain clarity for myself.
One fond memory I have was when I graduated from college (Chapman University) back in June 2002. I recall standing up with all the graduates as the commencement song was playing. Tears of joy rolled down my face not only because I accomplished this goal I set out for myself but also because I knew my Omas and Opas were right there watching me receive my college degree! That is one thing they all wanted to see me achieve!
I am currently a Social Worker and work protecting the welfare and rights of our older adult population.  I feel that I was placed in this position to help our elders and to be their voice when they are not able to advocate for themselves. I feel very fulfilled with the career path I have chosen. It is very challenging and rewarding. I know that my grandparents are very proud of my accomplishments and the career path I chose even though it was not the doctor or lawyer Oma Milane wanted me to become.
Now that I am in my forties I try my best to embrace and enjoy every moment I have with my parents. My mother and I spend quality time together whenever my schedule allows and I also make it a priority to call her frequently just to see how she is doing. Retirement life for my mother has allowed her to enjoy time with her grandchildren, my sister and I.  We have been creating some priceless memories together which will be cherished for a lifetime.
I still have family in Holland and Indonesia. Through Opa and Oma Milane I got to meet family and friends that have visited from both countries: Holland and Indonesia.  Even though I have never been to these countries I feel connected to the culture through them.  I look forward to someday visiting both countries and appreciate the rich culture I was born into.
As I continue through life’s journey, I can proudly say that I am a Dutch Indo who was raised with great family values.  I value and cherish all the love, advice and moral support my Omas and Opas gave to me while growing up. I will continue to pass these values down to my two daughters who are in their teenage years now.
Lastly, my favorite saying is, “Enjoy life for today not tomorrow because tomorrow is never promised.”
Love one another; reach out to those who are in need and lastly a smile can make all the difference in someone’s life.

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Michael Caffin

Hi! I am Michael. I was born in a little town called Boxtel that is located in the south of the Netherlands. I grew up, however, with my younger sisters and brother in the City of Oss, which is a little further north. Both cities are in the beautiful Provence of North Brabant. For those that are not too familiar with the Provence, it primarily has a medium agricultuur presence including other industries such as Philips Electronics in Eindhoven, DAF Truck Industries, and a number of large military bases.


At home, we primarily spoke and eat Dutch with a flair of Indonesian culture. I think it was primarily done to integrate as best as possible into the Dutch community. Although, many of our friends, including some family members, spoke the Brabant’s dialect, we kept it to “Algemeen Nederlands” which the standard Dutch language. And, once in a while, we did spoke the dialect mixed with some Malaysian words. But primarily when we were having a great time with friends and family.


If it came down to our Indonesian roots in the Netherlands, especially the food. The gatherings on my mom’s side of the family such as birthday parties were notorious in the neighborhood. From a far distance you could see the bright tarps covering the backyard against possible rain, where the immense size family BBQ laid a blanket of smoke throughout the neighboring streets, and when entering the city limits you would be hit by a wall of aroma of some good Indonesian food. During summertime our family did not shy away to repeat these rituals on Spanish soil where we occupied almost an entire block on a camping ground, which was about one hour south of Barcelona. These were the days, were I as a teen and my cousins had some great family time!


Most of my cousins were older so we were pranking each other usually often hardcore. So, there was a lot of noise happening, but as soon as we hear our mother’s scream for “ETEN!” (which means dinner) it was back to business to what being indo was al about. Grabbing a plate, going to your aunties who each were standing at a food station, and finally to your uncles at the BBQ where all the meat was. Then sit wherever you could find a spot – most often on the floor surrounded by your cousins.


Was I embarrassed at times of my family rituals during parties? Oh yeah, I surely was. But, I am a very proud of our family Indo rituals and love every bit of it!


I moved to San Diego in 2001 where I met and married my beautiful Mexican wife – not knowing that many Indo’s before me had done the same ?


In love and light!

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Monica Jansen

Hello! My name is Monica, maiden name of Jansen. My father Johan was born in Tjilatjap, Indonesia in 1949 to parents who were both Indos, he is the 5th oldest of 12 children. In 1951 my Opa and Oma were forced to leave Indonesia and move to Valkenswaard, Holland with my father and his siblings. They lived in Holland until 1960 and then immigrated to the United States where all but two of my tantes, who now live in Holland, still reside. My father met my mother Sylvia, who is Mexican American in 1969 at a dance in San Diego and eventually married and had my brother and I.

Unfortunately I never had a chance to meet my Oma, she passed away before I was born. I was fortunate enough to have known my Opa and spend time with him. He passed away when I was in middle school but up until then my Indo family had always kept in touch and would often have family gatherings which always involved food…good food!! Lumpias, pisang goreng, nasi goreng, bread pudding, schotel, saute and my favorite roti kukus. I have also had the opportunity to visit Holland a couple of times and meet many cousins, tantes and oms that live in Bergen op Zoom.

I was born in 1975 in San Diego and have lived in this county my whole life. I am married and have 4 children who each look very different from one another, in skin tone, eye color and hair color but each of them has a touch of what we call ‘Jansen’ which means it’s the eye, nose or mouth shape…oh and personality, meaning strong willed, not sure if that’s specific to Indos but it sure is for Jansens! Though I am part Mexican my features resemble my father completely, my mother is fair skinned and green eyed, and growing up in Socal I am almost always presumed to be only Mexican. Once in a great while I will run into someone who can distinguish the difference and has actually heard of Indonesia (believe it or not I have actually met people who had no clue it existed or where it is!). I am very proud of my mixed heritage and value the many traditions and customs of both of my parent’s families. I cherish when I hear stories from my father or my tantes about their journey here to America. I am very proud to say that each and every one of my Jansen family has contributed to this country in so many ways, whether through serving in the military, teaching or creating a happy family.

When people speak of immigrants and what they do and don’t do for our country, I don’t have to look any further than at my father. He came here as a child, lived very modestly, became a citizen as a teenager, has worked very hard for his family his whole life, always setting an example of integrity and value of family and is now retired busy gardening, building decks and helping babysit his grandchildren. He is the example of the American dream and how immigrants have helped make this country great and that is what makes me most proud of being a Socal Indo

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Cor Van Overeem

Ik Ben gevraagd om even een beetje over mijn leven te schrijven.  Ik dacht, nou zeg, dat is misschien een 1 April grap en ik word belazerd…..aduh, in American-English maar.  This is an April Fools joke right?  That is how I saw the email message on my well used IPAD.  I read the message again and then understood the seriousness.  Let me just get this angst out of the way and shake my old head so the memories will not be too foggy.

Yes, I consider myself an INDO.  Why?  For the many parallel reasons so many of our INDO families have.  The history of having suffered and endured and overcome strife and a new world.  The multiple stories we have all read, about the time before, during and after the big WWII.  The stories about family names that bind us to the Dutch or European lineage.  The common thread of our parents under brutal captivity in camps.  How they survived sickness, empty stomachs, rations and barbaric treatments.  This went on after the WWII ended.  For another four years of the Bersiap period when many of our families had to find shelters to defend against the now growing numbers of Indonesian independence fighters.  The repatriation of the Dutch colonials had begun.  The allegiance to the Netherlands (Dutch) made many families leave everything behind and make the big move.  From a tropical island setting to a cold and wet flat land.  Those that made it thru the war and repatriated to the boerderijen were the first generation. I am an INDO because I am a second generation, born after the war WWII.

The Indo heritage started in 1890’s when my truly Dutchman grandfather decided he should leave his family and travel to the Dutch East Indies colonies.  He started a new branch on the Van Overeem family tree that had grown since the early 1400’s.  I thank my dear grandfather Antoine Cornelis Van Overeem for the linkage to the Dutch-Indo heritage.   He was smitten by a beautiful West Javanese girl and together they toiled the land and lived in peace.  My dad, Herman, was the eldest of 7 aunties and 2 uncles.

The Japanese war machine rolled over the colonial islands. My dad as a KNIL soldier was captured in March of 1942 and was immediately send to Siam/Burma.  He survived working on the railroad of death and in August of 1945 was reassigned to keep the order and peace in the lower Sunda Islands and Celebes.  He met my mother, Marlien, and she was a Menadonese, a very good cook, sings as a bird and dances as a butterfly.  Her family was 12 kids large.  On the way to bring his bride home, I was born on the island of Sumbawa.  It was unfortunately too late for my dad to see his father.  His father, passed away in the last month of captivity in a Japanese prison camp.  I was named after him, Antoine Cornelis Van Overeem.  On a side note, just a couple months ago, Herman Van Overeem was posthumously honored by the Netherlands Ministerie van Defensie with the Mobilisatie and Orde en Vrede Kruis medals.

All of the Van Overeem brothers and sisters had survived these awful times and had made their way to the Netherlands.  Our Van Overeem family was the last to leave Indonesia.  In early 1958, My dad had to leave everything he worked for.  The tea and rubber plantations were taken over by the Indonesian government.  He left everything behind and now with a family of four kids, boarded an Italian steamship and left Indonesia from Tanjung Priok.  If you asked me to go out and eat Italian, I would say anything but spaghetti.  On the ship we had spaghetti every waking hour for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack.  We disembarked in Genoa, Italy, and then by train made it to the Netherlands.  We were now placed in a welcoming camp and then moved to bungalows in Leersum.  I remember the hills with short brush and some pine trees in the distance.  I remember the big chestnut tree that if you threw your rock perfectly, a bunch would fall and we would put them on the kachel to roast.

My mom and dad were not ready to make our home in Niewerkerk a/d Ijssel a permanent one.  Yet, we assimilated, my dad learned a completely new trade, we grew up ice skating the canals, and bartering for fresh chicken and eggs with the farms nearby.  I will always remember climbing up trees at the apple orchards and stealing green apples. I also remember that all the aunties and my beautiful tiny Oma with bun in her hair, and wearing a sarong kebaja would come together in her flat in Schiedam.  I remember the weddings we attended and of course it was always that Dutch-Indo food that was cooked.  We listened to Radio Veronica and sang songs by the Blue Diamonds.  I remember the mooije meisjes in Gouda and then I went to HBS school in Rotterdam by bicycle, and played soccer (voetbal) on the school team.  On the month we were to play in tournaments in London, England, my parents got their wish answered.  We would leave “Holland” in March of 1962 and emigrate to the USA.

Our journey by plane to New York and then by train across the USA was a big eye opener.  We had flats in Holland that were perhaps 15 stories high, but these are skyscrapers, and the land we crossed was endless.  So much too see and take in.  The train ride took the better part of 4 days travel and every story you had read about the Wild West are no longer imagination.  This is the real deal.  I remember the prairies and the green forests and magical mountains.  I remember real oranges from California.  We made it to Los Angeles and the church sponsors drove us to Long Beach.  We settled in and with my British -English, I was placed in the ninth grade at Jefferson and went to Wilson High School.  Funny how you learn to acclimate real quickly because you had too.  It was jeans and white T-shirt or jeans and plaid shirts and “tennis shoes”.

How and where did our parents get the courage to continually seek out the best for the family?  Why did they not stop when all was good and happy?  I think every second generation Indo has perhaps asked that question.  With all the adversity of starting a new life in a whole new country, not once, but twice, we can’t thank our wonderful parents enough.  We all learned that if you truly wanted and worked hard, the opportunities are there for the taking.  Both my parents worked multiple jobs, my mom was a great seamstress and later made all the special outfits for grandchildren.  My dad became a knowledgeable oil drilling machinist, and often sent to far away places for installations and repair.  Our parents made the ultimate sacrifice so we can continue to carry the torch.

We as children and being second generation, learned of other families that were here, and especially in Southern California.  A whole community of Dutch and Indo are living here and they have social groups and they get together.  There was The Wapenbroeders that my dad knew, and then there was AVIO and the Holland Soccer Club.  You hear about Pasadena and the Mousson and the Pasar Malams and kumpulans.  The parents were now getting their lives back and the silent front saw cracks and little by little you hear about the who, the what and the why from days past.  You could sense the pain, but also the relief of that heavy burden they had carried.  May both Herman and Marlien forever Rest In Peace.

We grow up and we find the partner in life.  The one you bring home becomes the Indische meisje and she learns from watching OMA.
We become our own families with third generations and we get together for special social holidays and picnics and always we find what brings us close; family, food, and fun.  We speak of our past, but most of all we plan our future.  My two brothers and sister are close.  They live in California and they too have their families and stories.

My story has many starts and finishes, yet it continues forward to this day.  I worked my tail off.  I was a gardener, a newspaper boy, a chauffeur, a factory assembler, a tool maker, a draftsman, I climbed on airplanes and helicopters, I am not a veteran, but have worked with every DoD and Space based industry.  I played hard, I swam, I surfed, I did tennis, did racquetball, did handball, tried out for under twenty USA soccer! We danced all night and watched submarine races.  I am retired now and my knees ache.  Ann, my lovely wife, I met in college and she for many years was an ER nurse.  We are now the OMA and OPA and we want to leave our INDO heritage alive and well.  We live in the USA and much thanks to our past Indo affiliates and to the Indo Project and the Indo Dutch Cook Book and the many social media groups and special Dutch-Indo and now include local Indonesian events, our wish will be granted.  Tot ziens en Slaap lekker allemaal, morgen gaan we goed eten.

Antoine Cornelis Van Overeem

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Michael Rijnders

Hello, my name is Michael Rijnders,

Readers – i want you to Imagine a time… a time where there was green jungles, beautiful little houses made out of mortis and tenon joints and wooden pegs, timber, bamboo, thatch and fibre, indo’s know this as, “rumah adat”. Which meant, “custom home”. Life was custom, and people were accustomed to being well to do with simplicity. House servants were extended family that you paid to help around with cooking, cleaning, even help raising children… That was the life of an INDO post war. The life of my families stories told from my mother and grandmother where she grew up. 

On my mothers side it was a story of love in war… My grandmother Wilhelmina Paap lived in Indonesia during the times of the Japanese invasions, while many families were being searched, raided, harassed, my grandmothers beauty was radiant and hopeful and caught the eyes of a Japanese pilot at the time( they were the enemy). The story goes, the pilot would help and aide her and her family during the time and out of the blue, disappeared. Perhaps he got captured, but that is unknown. However, he left my grandmother with the most amazing gift… My mother… Curly Jolly Paap-Monod de Froideville – Rijnders. Later my grandmother fell in love with Lt. Robert Monod De Froideville from the Royal Dutch Marines, who by his dutch-Indonesian decent, was brought in to negotiate terms for the Dutch-Indo shenanigans. However, he did’t speak Bahasa at the time. So My grandmothers brother Rex Paap was his translator. (which is how my grandmother and him met) Having raised my mother as his own and having 8 more children!

Side thought: Fast forward/rewind end up in limbo… in between most of this.

My family experienced… a little jungle magic(no pun intended haha). Weird things like jaga’s (good spirits protecting the home), to sacred kris’s that made Indonesian soldiers run out the house scared from head to toe, and kept my family safe on both sides. (similar stories actually came from both my mother and fathers side). And my mother and her family ended up in the US, and my father Andries John Rijnders from the Royal Dutch Navy.

My mothers family and her flew into what was New York International Airport(Now Kennedy International) on KLM McDonnel-Douglas aug. 16 1962. Once they cleared customs, they went to Grand Central Station and took a train to Chicago, from there to Santa Fe railroad to Los Angeles. Trip took 3 days and they arrived Aug, 19, 1962.

My Opa was 39 my Oma would be 35 – 8 days later. My mother 16 at the time, with her siblings Peter(13), Fee(12),Dick(11) Marjo(9), Hanneke(7), Hans(5). The Dutch consul general asked a Dutch family Jaap & Janny Kaperto borrow their station wagon and two additional cars the consulate provided to pick them all up and take them to a large house on 555 N Alvarado Blvd, a block away from the famous McArthur Park. They lived on the first floor with Bill and Trees Seeman. Which through a dividing door, my family peeped through key holes to look at the magical world of Black and White Television. They only had 75$ in their pockets when they arrived.

Raising a family was hard, but my grandfather made it happen with finesse. fast forward after some hardships and finally moving to Pasadena with other indo families. A year later the Indo Community Center De Soos was established. Where my grandfather was Vice President and my grandmother made the first Sinterklaas costume used in the club. De soos first met monthly at Jefferson Park in Pasadena, then Boyle Heights, After that, St Andrews Church in la Puente, where Rene Creutzburg servedthe longest as President of de Soos.

My mother, old enough to work by sixteen years of age, met my father when she was working as a waitress at Garuda Indonesian Restaurant in Pasadena. My father and his old military friend were sitting their eating, when they saw this Indonesian gal with long dark black hair down to floor, with giant C cups. They were giddy and googly eyed when they made gentlemen’s bet… “Let’s flip a coin and see who asks her out!”.. My father won.  He was 26/27 years old at the time. On their first date, he wooed her with his cooking skills. She came over to his apartment and he cooked her Corned Beef and Rice!(ok not really cooking skills, but it left an impression). An Impression so good that my mother said, he will never cook again as long as she’s around. They fell in love, she quit her job and became a stay at home wife, raising 7 children together. Where she cooked every day she could. I am the youngest of 7.  My brothers and sisters Andries Jr, Richard, Paul, Charlie, Belinda, Rebecca and Myself, have been 3rd Generation Indos, living the American Dream.  We grew up in places like the Avio, and Soos. It seemed there was a party 7 days a week full of dancing, drinks, laughter, war stories, and love… Indo’s love dancing – I grew up with diverse music like the Lambada, Indo Rock, Rock n Roll, Oldies but Goodies, playing on old record players non stop, even when my mother was cleaning.

My father became a chief engineer and retired from Ralph’s grocery factory in San Pedro after his military career ended and family life started. His family was all left behind in Holland, he too comes from a huge family of 7.

He was forced at the age of 16 to join the military by his father. Once he did, being the second oldest, he went through and decided, sunny beaches and polka dot bikinis was his goal. He’s never stopped working a day in his life, and til this day, still helps many first and second generation indo’s with his business, A.Rynders Electric Air conditioning and Refrigeration. Also til this day, does all the electrical work for the Dutch/indo fair in long beach. He has always been an honest worker, and never charging much for his time and labor, growing up working with him as my brothers all did before me, he would tell us how he always wanted to give us a life of knowledge like his father gave him. He said if you are an honest worker, you will always have enough money to be comfortable. He told us how if he wanted to he could be like all the other companies that over charge for parts and labor with arms and legs, but why would you want that reputation? He said honest prices, and honest work, will always have God look out for your family. If you charge people fairly, they will recognize your worth and you will always have business. He raised 7 off us whole heartedly and with the sweat off his back since age 16. My mother and him raised us to be So-Cal Indos.

Til’ this day i have never met another Indo in person besides family and our extended close niche Indo family through Soos and Avio connections of first and second generations. I am glad i can start connecting more with others like me. 3rd and 4th generation Indo communities that are still interested in our heritage and background so it does not remain lost.

What does it mean to me to be an Indo?

To me, it is exactly how my family raised us and the surroundings of our environment. Open doors for friends and family, always having food and snacks for random guests that pop in to say hello. A Warm heart that welcomes anyone and everyone of every color and background. Family morals that build a chain that keeps on growing to support everyone in our community. Being able to know my dreams are not possible today without the sacrifices of the ones before us that were refugees without a country. To remember the smiles, laughs, poker chips shuffling and dancing to music for generations to come. Sharing stories of the past show that everyone has overcome so much to be here and because of that, INDO’s will never be forgotten.

Thank you for listening to my story, i hope to read more of yours and share drinks, pot-lucks, dances, and rock out to Een kop koffie!

I am a SO-CAL indo. I am Michael Rijnders.

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Irene Goutier

Selamat, I am Irene Goutier, raised in beautiful Altadena, California. It was more promising to own a home in America than in Holland, so my father wanted that after serving in the Dutch Navy.  My parents, just like many alike, is Dutch Indo who took refuge to the Netherlands from Indonesia in the late 1940’s. Then later immigrated to the United States around 1960.

My Goutier side of the family is fortunate enough to trace our history back to the early 1800’s.  We are part of the Indo – African decent.  It started with my great great grandfather Najoersie, a warrior of the Mossi tribe in Africa. Born in Ghana, he sold himselfto the Dutch to fight the war on the island of Sumatra. Later, these soldiers were known as the “Black Dutchman” and “Black Skin with an Orange Heart”. Najoersie next generation was given a last name of Niks,  which means “nothing” in the Dutch language.

On my mother side, same scenario after the war, their last name is Beuk. The surname before that was Alles.  In translation means “everything” in Dutch. So yes, my mother and father was the joke of the family when “everything” and “nothing” got married.

Fast forward to my birth year, 1968. I had no idea the uniqueness of my family heritage of why I was the way I am or how I live.  It was like putting pieces of a puzzle together to make an accepting identity. I have black hair,  dark olive skin complexion, green hazel eyes, slender nose and face.  So, I looked different from my peers in school, and knew a language no one really heard of. Even if I mention the country of Indonesia it would raise a lot of eye brows and questions.  My brother , tall, thin, light skin, brown hair took after my Opa Wim Goutier, from the French decent. My sister has a round face, dark complexion, taking after my mother, of Indonesia decent. Try to explain that to the neighborhood when you are just a little kid.

Another lingering thought, why did my relatives livedso far apart from each other, and in different countries. So any Dutch Indonesia friends our family had growing up near by, I would consider them as my oom, tante, neef and nicht. It felt great to see family more often and finally like I fit in ! Not having to apologize for my parents direct behavior and their stubborn ways because their parents were just the same ! Especially when the adults would get  together in a group laughing so loud, listening to Elvis, singing karaoke, and doing the jive. My friends from school would visit me and always ask why do we cook rice 24/7 in the kitchen, and why we would fry chips in the hot grease and can’t wait for it to explode. (Kerupuk Udang or Emping) Why I love drinking coconut milk (way before it became popular) with green worms in it. (Chendol) It was also great not having to translate my parents conversation. Especially when they would yell “hey apa kabar”. (What’s new!)  Lastly, why we were so threatened by the sloff ! (slippers).

My parents were excited to tourthe U.S, and experience all what they have heard about it to be. I had the pleasure to experience their first sights of this great country with them.  My mother envied the celebrity life in the United States while living in Holland. So my mother took a lot of pictures, posing everywhere, all the time, just like in the movies and magazines. As much as I hated to take the time to pose and smile for the pictures, I really appreciate them now.

Growing up Indo taught me to be appreciate “everything” and the “nothing” in life.  At 48 years young, my identity, my puzzle,  is a proud American – Dutch – Indo – African person with a French last name.

Thank you SoCal Indo for this opportunity to share our experience with others alike and making our generation feel like one big, happy satay ayam eating family.