About Mr and Mrs Koksma


1960 mr. and mrs Koksma visiting the minister of Finance, photo Sofios



Some particulars about George and Anna Koksma who lived at Agia Anastasia, Kythera.

I was 52 and my wife some years younger when the World Council of Churches invited us to “go and remake” the island of Kythera (in 1960).

We had placed ourselves at the disposal of the WCC a year before, because we wanted to do something in the field of community development, about which theme we had our own ideas and opinion. Only agricultural development was not enough, neither was extended health care or more education or financial support.

Development can only be total, or it is going to be a flop.

Our ideas were accepted so far by the WCC as well as the term. We were dead sure that nothing could be attained in a period of 2, or 3 or even 4 years.

When the Bishop Meletios from Kythera asked the WCC for support for the development of his diocese Kythera, they invited several experts to perform that task, but from 5 candidates we were chosen.


(click on a photo to enlarge)


“We will try,” I said, “but I can only do something if you leave me at this job during a period of 15 years.”

We started in 1960 and April 27 of that year we landed in Kapsali.

What difficulties! No house, no knowledge of the language and the tremendous difference in circumstances…

After a year of hard study, preparatory work and all sorts of activities and impossible festivities we had made a program.

1st. Our island was naked like a bottle. Reforestation we proposed and promoted. The first tree lets we planted. We practically compelled the government to take over and it did do so. We succeeded. At first we ran the whole tree business for 100%, at last we were out and the government did for 100%.

2nd. Greece has far too little meat for consumption. Consequently, we promoted cattle breeding. We gave approx. 35 stables to encourage the farmers.

3rd. But what can you do when without water? Nothing! The third chapter in our program was the water economy. In 7 villages we constructed a complete water system and the central water system throughout the island became a fact by our activities.

In this way we were behind everything that belonged to the infrastructure of the island.

4th. Industrialization? Of course! We gave the cheese factory. If people do not utilize the institution, we are only sorry, we had no follow up.

5th. Technical assistance. The school of Mylopotamos and the old people’s home in Potamos give wonderful witness of an exertion that sometimes was crushing.

We were behind everything and the population looked at us as real trusted representatives of themselves and the western world.

We helped them building, sometimes we could help with funds, we helped everywhere, but we did nothing without them. They gave us as many ideas as we gave them and it will be difficult to find a better and closer cooperation in every respect on earth. We learned from them, they learned from us. We had a marvelous time here, we loved the people and the land, we overcame practically all difficulties and at last we stayed here, because we knew no better place to live in.

This is a one in thousand review of our activities at Kythera.

Signed: George Koksma

(Anna Jacoba Koksma-Lagendijk 1911 – 1993) (Jurjen Marten Koksma   1907 – 2004)


*Interesting read 


Mrs. Koksma shows school children how to make a plant hole 1962



WCC Team-Kythera, 1960 – 1971


A normal Monday morning in the Team’s office in Chora.

By Anna Koksma in the Team’s monthly work report of June 1968.

(In Word by Jean Bingen, March 2014)


Perhaps it may interest you to know how things very often go in the normal daily life of the Team.

Let me take a Monday morning. It is still before seven o’clock when we leave the breakfast table. The bus has just arrived and brings some people from other villages. George is already behind his drafting board in the office.

A knock on the door and a man from Livadi enters and asks to see Kyrië George. Practice taught us better to ask first what visitors exactly want before letting them in the office. He explains then that he would like to have a sketch for an ordinary house because he has little money and lives in a kind of stable and winter is coming. Now I do remember him and his housing problem.  This is the type of help we like to offer although we always also have to explain that no financial help from the Team will be forthcoming. Therefore, I tell him to enter the office although I know that George this morning does not like to be disturbed. In the office George however can assure the man that he will make a very economic plan. In the mean time there is another nock on the door and Mrs. T. enters. Her son studies in Athens and he was ‘temporarily’ sponsored by the Team until a certain Kytherian committee would take over this responsibility. This committee, the Archimandrite is the Bishop’s representative, is tasked to take care of special needs of very poor people. The Team had approached this committee over and over again but to no avail. Could we have left this poor but brilliant student alone? No! So far the Team has paid for his study, food and lodging. This was a heavy burden on the Team, there is no money allocated for such individual help. Fortunately, this is the last monthly payment his mother comes to collect, he will successfully finish next month and become a teacher in Chora. Another man enters without knocking on the door. He nervously starts talking without a ‘kalimera’. I can see he is afraid. Some time ago on advice of the Bishop and consent by the Greek WCC office Athens, the Team helped this also very poor family with a chicken stable. “I do not have enough bricks and steel mesh to finish the construction”, he says agitated. “How is this possible?” George asks, “I ordered for your chicken stable all the required materials. Did you perhaps enlarge it, or what happened?” “No! No! You did not sent enough!” As of course according to them the fault is always on our side, George says that he will come this afternoon or latest tomorrow morning to investigate the matter and off the man goes. It came out that he had made the stable 11 meters long in stead of the 7 meters on the sketch and that was why there was a shortage of material. How to find a solution? He has really nothing, not enough to live from with his 5 children!


Mylopotamos 1960 – 1966 Anna Koksma at the Neraida


We have a quarter of an hour for a cup of coffee before other people drop in. They are from Platia Ammos, a committee, they are most anxious if there is a possibility for a summer work camp. We had promised to do our best to arrange this camp some months ago. But the present political situation in Greece does not make it easy to find enough youngsters in Holland to go to Greece. In Holland there is much propaganda by the media against the political situation in Greece. The situation on the country side and at Kythera however is very quiet; people are working in a normal way. I promise them to send immediately a telegram to Holland to get more positive information.

By now it is 10 o’clock. Still more people are coming by; for seeds, for a sketch for a stable. The seeds are easy, we still have some and with an explanation how to make use of them we can give these away. For the stable George promises to come and see the place first for the most economical design.

Due to a change in (allowed) allocation of project funds the Team does not have special budgets anymore for this type of individual help.

I make and keep a list of all George’s appointments for he has nobody to help him with his technical advices and drafting work. You can understand that this all is a lot of work for only the two of us.


Anna Koksma with ??


Another woman enters. She asks for financial help to pay her medicines. We know her and indeed she needs this money. We promised her to pay if she could hand us the doctor’s prescription. This is also a kind of individual help we are not supposed to do!

It was rumoured that an old man and his sister, who were thrown out of the house they had lived in for 40 years, were looking for accommodation. Somebody offered them an old ruin without rent. I went to see them there. Without consulting George I did promise them some help. Together with a carpenter we went to see the place and concluded that at least a new front door and three window frames were required, even when it is now summer time. Now I have to pay the carpenter 2.250 drachms or $ 70,- . I am sure we will find this money somewhere. Could one say to one’s neighbour “brother go ahead and get warm?” No, this is impossible for us!

Fortunately, many times with aid of the Archimandrite we can handle these cases of social welfare.

This afternoon I will start writing letters to those who could raise funds for the above mentioned individual cases!


Click on the photo to enlarge


(By George Koksma, in retrospect the WCC Team Kythera 1960 -1971)

(In Word by Jean Bingen, Nov 2013)



mr and mrs Koksma in their house in Agia Anastasia



mr and mrs Koksma in their home in Agia Anastasia

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