Project HOPE has had a profound impact on the life of Esther Kooiman, both personally and professionally. She learned about Project HOPE from the physician her mother worked for, who had volunteered on two early voyages.
Like her mother, Esther became a nurse. After graduation, she applied to become a Project HOPE volunteer. But she lacked the minimum two years of experience — so she went into the Peace Corps instead.
“As soon as I got back home,” Esther recalls, “I reapplied to Project HOPE and received an invitation to sail with the S.S. HOPE to Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka).”
That first trip changed Esther’s life. Not only did she gain a new perspective on the world, but she met her future husband, Bill. After they married, they traveled together on four more Project HOPE voyages.
The Kooimans made two trips to Brazil through Project HOPE, adopting a child during one of them. Like her mother and grandmother, their daughter embraced the compassionate profession of nursing.
Esther remains effusive about her time overseas. “I found it enlightening to learn about other cultures and ways of delivering health care,” she says. She is especially drawn to Project HOPE’s counterpart system, in which a Project HOPE volunteer is matched with a partner in the host country. “Each learns from the other,” she says.
Esther helped create a fund to provide stipends to volunteers departing on their second Project HOPE assignment. The fund was later named in honor of Bill by the Board of the Alumni Association. But she wanted to do more.
“Bill and I were blessed by Project HOPE,” she says. “I’ve left a gift in my will for Project HOPE, in addition to providing for my family. I encourage others to take the same step.”
Esther loves hearing about the impact Project HOPE has had on people all over the world. She recalls traveling to Peru as a tourist. “I was wearing a Project HOPE sun visor, and the man sitting next to me on the bus told me that his sister had been a patient on the S.S. HOPE. I give so that Project HOPE can continue to have this kind of impact on people’s lives for generations to come.”
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