Request for money and volunteers by Koksma 1966


Tuesday 18 January 1966 Mr. J.M. KOKSMA, leader of a team for ecumenical development, already there for years, is coming to Triangel to speak about his work and the money that is required to make it prosperous again.


Cooperation between youths could be basis for a further ecumenism.

December 1964 the section church social welfare work of the reformed community of Vlaardingen, on their request to support a project of the “Foundation Ecumenical Aid to churches and refugees”, was given three small villages at Kythera. In the villages Ano and Kato Livadi and in Katouni a water supply was to be installed.

Estimated cost Dutch guilders/ Greek drachmas:                          Water tower f 7.500           60.000 drachmas

Pvc pipes f 12.000               96.000 drachmas

Water pump f 7.000            56.000 drachmas

Summer 1965 this project was discussed in an ecumenical youth group and the question came up ‘why are we not making this a combined action of youth groups of various churches?’


January 7, 1966, it was decided that youth groups from Reformed (Protestant), Dutch Reformed, Remonstrate, and Roman Catholic churches would cooperate to have this water supply built. A factory in Zwolle (Hardenberg) had already agreed to supply the necessary plastic pipes against cost prize. In Vlaardingen maybe, there could be found a factory which would supply the pump for a much-reduced cost?!

Prayer week

Tuesday Mr. and Mrs. Koksma will come to Vlaardingen to tell about and show slides of their island. Next week will be the prayer week for uniformity. Youths interested in this action are expected in the Great Church at seven thirty for an evening prayer and a prayer for the coming action. A quarter past eight they will depart for the Triangel where Mr. Koksma will lecture.


This evening is the start of an action of great intentions. There are many ideas which remain to be looked at and worked out. A panel discussion of political kingpins about task and function of government in respect to international assistance. Also, schools will be actively involved to raise money. An exhibition about Kythera, special classes at the schools about the island, a sports tournament at Easter. Collecting old paper, a music festival. But all these plans are still in a very early stage.

Going to Kythera

Almost certain, after a successful action, a number of 25 young people from Vlaardingen will go to Kythera to actual help with the laying of the water pipes. These selected youngsters (from the various churches) will form an “ecumenical storm troop” which could be the basis of a further cooperation and an actual ecumenism (at Kythera) and when they have returned to The Netherlands, Vlaardingen. Selection of these youngsters will be by the “Foundation of Ecumenical Aid to churches and refugees”.


For this action (Water to Kythera) a work group of youths from 4 churches is installed. The reformed referend J.E. van Veen acts as advisor and will also have an executive role. “It is an action to help others”, he says, “but it is also a test case for ecumenism”. If a resulting cooperation occurs, the action has, not only for Kythera, but also for Vlaardingen a lasting value. [Indeed, this did happen, in Vlaardingen in 1967 the “Kythera Vriendenkring Nederland (Kythera Circle of Friends The Netherlands”) was established. With a lot of fund-raising actions, they collected much money for a variety of projects until 1971]


**Bishop stands behind the team

In Greek society and certainly at an island a bishop has an important managerial role. Recently the Bishop wrote the World Council of Churches in Geneva: “If I look back I am under the impression that a clear perceptible and gradual improvement has occurred on our island. This applies firstly the splendid work done by the government on roads and harbors. Also, the reforestation has been significant. When I started my career, nobody bothered about reforestation. At my initiative they started a little bit in 1948, but only in 1960 the government did send the first professional forester to the island. Without the team it is however doubtful if there would ever have been planted so many trees. The population still does not understand how important reforestation is. Without the team it is doubtful if ever so many trees would have been planted. Even now where the work has developed so many-sided, a continuation is unthinkable without the help of the team. Methods of farming are still medieval, and it is not easy to change in a brief time these 2000 years old practices. In improvement and expansion, agriculture, reforestation, industrialization and education the team collaborates with us.”

(Bishop Meletios Galanopoulou at Kythera from 1956 to 1969)

The work goes on

Mr. Koksma in his last work report about progress of present projects:

  • Reforestation. (…) Even doctors of the Potamos hospital took part in planting of new trees. (…) We hope to plant still 100.000 trees this winter.
  • Water supply service. Planning a water supply for Livadi and Katouni. The Vlaardingen-project!
  • Road construction. Unfortunate problems with worn out bulldozer.
  • Cattle breeding. Building of stables, 20 off finished, more will follow.
  • Industry. Very important is tourism. Capital however is needed. We will continue for tourism which is essential for Kythera’s future. The cheese factory (in Logothetianika), a private enterprise, is already in use this year.
  • Social welfare. Unfortunately, little could be done the last months. Through lack of money construction of the old people’s home (Potamos, 1st stone laid 3 October 1965) could not be continued.
  • Education. The home economical school in Mylopotamos made satisfactory progress thanks to several summer work camps (1964, 1965). I do hope we will be able to finish its construction soon.
  • Agriculture. The village president of Frilingianika requested a large irrigation plan (at Paleopolis plain). A Dutch summer camp excavated an eleven-meter-deep well (in dry river bed July 1965). Unfortunately, very heavy autumn rains undid everything. However coming May, we will continue (which did not happen).

Legend at the picture by Chris-Paul Stapels (young Dutch photographer who had been at Kythera in 1965): Water is indispensable on the dry island. At Potamos a well was dug where these Greek ladies putt their water. In the background the team’s jeep. (This picture in later years was used many times for promotional and fund-raising actions.)

Legend at the picture of Mr. and Mrs. Koksma inspecting the Kalamos tree nursery (in 1965): Trees and animal could save Kythera, so Mr. Koksma thought. And he was right. Now thousands of seeds are cultivated to viable small trees.


1965 Dutch photographer Chris-Paul Stapels


1968 tree nursery, Koksma and Zerlendes

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