SOLMA Founder & Chairperson Gerard Heijkoop
Since earning his PhD in Technical Sciences from the Delft University of Technology in 1976, Gerard has been an innovator around the world, working first for SASOL in South Africa and then Exxon in Texas as a research engineer. From there, he returned to the Netherlands to work at Gastec and managed a project that saw the realisation of the Superclaus process, which is now used the world over for the desulfurisation of gaseous streams at refineries and gas production sites. Along with his native Dutch, he speaks English, German, and Afrikaans, as well as a smattering of French and, most importantly, Sesotho.
In 1994 Gerard founded Innochem, an engineering consulting firm that specializes in translating chemical patents. While doing business with South African firms, he and his wife gradually began to split their time between South Africa and their home in the Netherlands. By 2000 they had bought a house there, and in 2004 while hosting guests, they traveled to Malealea and discovered its magic, as well as its need. He quickly connected with the local charity, the Malealea Development Trust, and it wasn’t long before he was deeply involved with its work.
He had lived all over but never experienced anything quite like Malealea and he cultivated countless relationships with members of the community throughout his stays there working with the MDT. In 2007 he founded Stichting Ontwikkelingshulp Lesotho MAlealea (SOLMA) (Foundation for Development Aid in Lesotho and Malealea) in 2007 to expand his ability to make an impact there. Since then, SOLMA has raised funds for many MDT projects, including drinking water projects for villages, building of classrooms for schools, and supporting the care for orphans and HIV+ people, all the while working hand-in-hand with the MDT organisation.
The Malealea Development Trust
The Malealea Development Trust (MDT) is our local partner in Malealea. The MDT’s full-time staff of seven, including a social worker, a scholarship administrator, two fieldworkers, and resident computer trainer, are constantly on the ground, implementing projects and monitoring progress. The MDT also hosts a Peace Corps volunteer. Their areas of focus are community development, health and well-being, education, and caring for vulnerable and orphaned children. Visit their website here: https://malealeadevelopmenttrust.org/
Mohloling oa Lerato
We began working with Mohloling oa Lerato ("Source of Love”) in 2015. The organization was founded by Nthabiseng Van der Lugt–Matube to raise money to support orphans in her home village of Raboletsi, a small village between Roma and Semonkong, near Ramabanta. The organization expanded its mission to include building a new water tap that would bring clean, safe drinking water into the village. We are now working together to make this project a reality. Visit their website here: http://www.m-oa-l.nl/