How did it start?
In 1980, the Hoogeveen family traveled to Romania for a vacation. The country was beautiful, but the vacation was not fully enjoyable. Shocked by the poverty of the majority of the population, they decided to help these people.
But how? With the second-hand goods and articles those the people in the welfare society of the Netherlands do not need any more.
As they got back home from the holidays, Janny and Hans Hoogeveen started the work up to their Christian conviction. They collected second-hand clothes and other goods from their friends and acquaintances in their garage, and then transported those to Eastern-Europe. Many difficulties and dangers waited them in the isolated Romania, but the happiness and thanks of the supported people made them to forget the hardship. Besides their belief, this gave them power to continue.
The first steps were small and cumbersome in the eighties.
The next steps
Substantial changes happened in Romania in 1989. The borders opened up and new ways and possibilities became available. More and more requests came for help so a new organizational setup became necessary for the work. The Foundation of Lasting Relations with Romania was formed. In the same year (1989) the first three trucks left for Romania with charity transports.
The requests for help were not limited only to Hungary and Romania. Assistance was needed also in Croatia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Soon it became obvious that the name Romania is too much limiting internationally in the name of the foundation. A necessity arose to change the name in 1996 and this is how the recent name, Karmel International was chosen.
Karmel International wants to give the maximum help according to the possibilities to everybody who turns to them with a request for assistance. We do not consider the political or religious background of the people in need, we try to help everybody.
The core office of the foundation is in Enschede, the Netherlands. Volunteers from the group of our about 90 helpers turn up their sleeves to select and sort the continuously arriving donations. They pack and arrange the goods in the storehouse for delivery.
A few examples of the goods we have in the storehouse: cloths, shoes, beds, mattresses, blankets and bedclothes, cleaning compounds, small furniture, household gadgets, medical instruments, wheelchairs, school furniture, educational material, computers, audio and video equipment, water tanks, construction material etc. We sort them into projects according to the requests, pack them into trucks and send them to their destinations.
Besides the international activity, we work in our hometown too: in May 2000, we assisted the victims of the fire-works storehouse explosion in Enschede. This disaster set also our own storehouse on fire, causing serious damages to the Foundation.
Karmel International has independent organizations in Hungary and Romania under the names of Karmel Hungary Foundation and Karmel Romania Foundation. About 300 volunteers help in these countries. The Hungarian Foundation coordinates the charity donations to Urkraine and Croatia.