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Personally, I think this book is really important for us as Dutch people.

This story about Saidjah and Adinda is of course ´just´ a made up story. But it might help you understand how things went in the Dutch East Indies in the 19th century. Natives were heavily mistreated by the Dutch, and lots of people in the Netherlands didn´t even know that.

Saidjah, six years old, lived with his family and brothers in Lebak (Dutch East Indies). One day, the buffalo which is a good friend of Saidjah was taken from the family. This buffalo was really important for them because it helped them farming, and therefore also surviving. They bought a new one, it was taken away again, they bought a new one, and it was taken away again. When Saidjah was 15 years old, the family didn´t have any money left, mum died of tears, and dad fled. The only thing that Saidjah could do was trying to go to Batavia and earn some money, so that’s what he did. He said goodbye to his love Adinda, who he would have had to marry, and went…

Three years of hardworking past. Proud of his treasures and money and curious how Adinda would react, Saidjah returned to Lebak, as he promised Adinda. When he returned Adinda´s house had disappeared. He was told that they also took Adinda´s buffalo away, and her mother and sister died. Finally after looking for her for weeks, he found her body, laying in a city that was set on fire by the Dutch-Indian Army. She was naked and looked mistreated. After seeing this, he killed himself with a sword bajonet…

A little while later, in Batavia, people are talking happily about the other conquest among many others.

The man that wrote this story (of course in old Dutch, longer and more detailed than I showed here), was Eduard Douwes Dekker. He lived from 1820 to 1887 and used the pseudonym Multatuli, which means ´I suffered a lot´. He himself had worked as an assistant-resident in Lebak. When he lost his job, money, and honor, he came back to the Netherlands and wrote the book Max Havelaar (1860). This is a book that not only criticised the way how the Dutch treated the natives but also satirized the Dutch Middle-class.

We know a lot about the 17th century when the Netherlands had a really important role in the world, traded with everybody and became really rich and we love to talk about that, but we sometimes forget where all the money came from. Multatuli didn´t think he accomplished what he wanted because he wrote the book to the king, and the king didn´t take any actions. But actually thinks did change. People slowly started thinking about the situation and the book was actually the beginning of a change in mindset.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Eva Dijkstra, 18 year old volunteer from the Netherlands. Is a by nature chaotic person that tries to be structured, who loves food, animals, dancing and art.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira