On the 17th of November in 1947, the Pelita foundation was established in the Netherlands. The founding fathers were all people who were forced to leave the Dutch East Indies (what is currently called Indonesia) at that time. This period, during which Indonesia struggled for its independence, is called the Bersiap.
The people involved in the establishment of Pelita concluded that the growing number of so called repatriates needed some form of organised support; support that they didnt get from the Dutch government. In the beginning of its existence the organisation focused on meeting the basic needs of the new arrivals. Pelita helped them with finding solutions for their social and financial problems as these people had to start from scratch.
Laws for war victims
By the late sixties this particular work for the immigrants ended. Their integration in Dutch society was a fact. At the same time one could see new problems surfacing. The wounds, psychological damage and illnesses that many suffered during the war and Bersiap and that they ignored or denied, took their toll. The Dutch society was then forced to react to these till then hidden problems. This led to the gradual promulgation of legislation over the years.
Three laws were made applicable to war victims; one for victims of persecution (WUV), one for civilian victims (WUBO) and one for people who participated in the resistance movement against the Japanese aggressor (WIV). The Pelita foundation was then requested by the government to help the people involved to apply for pensions and other forms of material support which they were entitled to on the basis of the above-mentioned legislations. The employees of Pelita drew up about 60.000 applications over the last thirty years. They also provided help in appeal procedures. At the same time Pelita provided social service to this group.
Full service subscription
The social workers of Pelita offer social en psychological support to the victims of the war with Japan and the Bersiap period. This is not only done on a one-to-one basis but also within groups. Of recent years, Pelita has launched a programme to implement a full service subscription for elderly people from the former Dutch East Indies. People who subscribe have a right to make use of a number of services provided by Pelita ranging from providing transport and meals, through social gatherings and kumpulans to computer courses and internet training. Furthermore Pelita is setting up a documentation centre to safeguard the historical records from the Second World War and the former Dutch East Indies.
At the moment, Pelita has 80 employees on a full time basis and about 60 people who work on a free-lance basis. It also has initiated a network of about 100 volunteers. They participate in several projects, for example the so-called friendly visiting project. Initiatives like this are all directed towards avoiding social isolation of the elderly clients and stimulating them to take part in society by providing a fall back network for them.