Monday, October 6, 2014

The Wonderful Story of Djoeke Giliam

Just before leaving for Holland--literally; it was a Sunday and we were leaving on Tuesday--I interviewed Djoeke Giliam, a woman I met a couple of years ago through the dog rescue foundation we were both involved with at the time. Ever since I began working for the Amigoe Express, I'd wanted to write a piece on her. Many reasons, but the bottom line is that she's the greatest human being I've ever met.

No exaggeration.

She has the largest, kindest heart. She's a fundamentally and intrinsically good person. She cares, deeply and selflessly, about the world. She wants to make it a better place--not in any dramatic, Let's-Change-The-World-Order way; she understands that small things are the biggest change-mongers.

And she lives with thirty-six dogs.

Most she's rescued herself, others were brought to her as fosters from dog rescue organizations. But these thirty-six are by no means all the dogs she's rescued. Whether with her own hands--and her rescue stories, if ever she gets around to writing them (or--dare I hope--letting me write them), will read like the best edge-of-your-seat thrillers--or by fostering, she's helped dozens of homeless, hopeless dogs find a loving forever family.

The ones she has are the ones no one else wants. They're sick, or fear-based aggressive, or just plain too old to win a place in a family's heart. And Djoeke has turned her home into a sanctuary for them. Even though she lives on a teacher's salary. (Yes, she's a teacher... Oh, that we could clone her and have her as every single child's teacher in the world!)

Amigoe Express, Oct 3 edition. Djoeke's article was printed in the double pages in the middle!
Unfortunately that means it was only available in print and not online.

Of course I wanted to write about that. I didn't know whether the paper would publish the article, but with World Animal Day (Oct 4) coming around, the timing was perfect, and it went to press last Friday.

Here's the kicker--and what's got me over the moon. A couple of tourists read the article in their hotel, and showed up the next day at Djoeke's door with giant bags of dog food and dog treats.

Photo: Djoeke Giliam

I cannot imagine I'll feel this honored if my writing ever wins a Pulitzer, even a Nobel. This is the real thing: touching lives, making a perceptible dent in the fabric of the world.

I'm humbled. And ecstatic.

Want to help, too? Visit Stichting DOG online (DOG = Djoeke Olga Giliam... How prophetically apt), or give her a huge hand with just a click: another animal welfare organization is running a contest to help smaller grassroots foundations. Vote for DOG!


  1. HUGE cyber hugs and smootches for you and Djoeke Giliam it feels good knowing there are people out there in this world who are not selfish and only think of themselves. ♥

    Just Fluttering Around

    1. Thank you, Marie! Yep, it's people like Djoeke that reconcile me with the world and renew my faith in the human race :)

  2. She is an angel to the dogs and how wonderful those people are to bring her dog food. I hope she gets more help because she deserves it big time

  3. What a wonderful story! My heart is smiling! So lovely to have faith in the human race affirmed which it is on an ongoing basis ... and those tourists stopping by with their gifts - bless them too. Thanks Guillle!

    1. I'm so glad you read this, Susan... I thought of you when I posted it, and I thought you'd find pleasure in it. So glad I was right :)

  4. What an inspiring story! Thank you Guilie for letting us know about this extraordinary lady. Here's hoping she receives the support and recognition she so thoroughly deserves. And how lovely for you to get the centrefold for your work Guilie! I voted for DOG (flying blind, so to speak - glad I translated the email and learnt I had to click on the link to validate the vote :) ).

    1. Oh, haha--I didn't even think to mention the whole voting thing would be in Dutch; my browser translates it all automatically. Thanks for the heads-up--I'll add a note on the post about that :) And THANK YOU for voting for DOG!


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