Nijmegen 24-07-2022Logo Wandelclub ARCHIEF

The first walking day had already been cancelled due to the extreme heat, but the registration procedure for our detachment, the UNIFIL Marching Group, remained unchanged.

The parties in the center of Nijmegen and the mandatory rest day on Tuesday felt a bit unreal and restless to me, and many other participants . Go to bed on time because at 03:00 the alarm goes off.

The start, the first day ever for 2 of our group and the first day after 3 years for everyone. It was three fantastic days with lots of fun, suffering, enjoyment, disappointments, happy people, courageous decisions, meetings and above all camaraderie. During the days that I was in Nijmegen, I drew attention to the situation in Lebanon where we provide humanitarian aid with the VVL Foundation, Veterans for Lebanon. It took me a lot of effort to sell some tickets from our sponsor lottery. All participants (including me) had their priority on the walk, especially the finish on the race. Very understandable because that's what you're in Nijmegen for.

On our first walking day (Wednesday) the route went west via Wijchen. This day was particularly hot and we left Heumensoord with a lightning start.  The intention behind it was to cover the greatest distance at the time of the lowest daytime temperature.  To have to do that on the first day is difficult, your body still has to get used to the rhythm of this day.  Fortunately, it worked out well, everyone did their utmost to get back to Heumensoord.

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The second (actually third) day was particularly wet with a courageous decision by one of us to quit (medical reason).  This day we (the soldiers from Heumensoord) were not seen on the race. The route ran towards Limburg and we cross the Zevenheuvelen road.  A solid tipple but again we cross the line with the remaining 13 men.

Thethird and last day was just special with again a difficult decision not to start (injury), a balanced pace, good timing for breaks and pace and a very warm crowd.  We arriveextra early, the alarm goes off at 01:30, and about half past four we walk out of the gate on our way to Grave.  After the bridge at Grave we continue cheerfully and cross the military pontoonbridge at Cuijk to go back to Nijmegen.  At Charlemagne we have reached the finish line and we are waiting for the music to walk the entry on the Via Gladiola. A sea of people and flowers that carry you mentally along the course, a pleasure to experience if you still have the energy to absorb it.

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I would like to thank everyone for the help and support received, the many reactions and attention and the many special encounters.

It was three fantastic days!  Click here for an aftermovie   Kamp Heumensoord

Fred van der Ploeg

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About Veterans for Lebanon


From 1979 to 1985, almost 9,000 Dutchmen, mostly conscripts, contributed to the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon. Now more than 41 years later, this peacekeeping force is still present on the border of Lebanon and Israel.




It is in 2018 when Bert Kleine Schaars organizes a first trip with former Dutch Unifil soldiers. This is possible with the cooperation of, among others, Minister Bijleveld and the airline Transavia, which has just started direct flights from Amsterdam / Beirut.

The second trip with several veterans and their wives or children is in March 2020. It is another great trip through a country that has great poverty and unfortunately also has few options of its own. Only recently have gas and oil fields been found off the coast. In fact, the country is completely dependent on food imports.

Due to the global crises, the country is in bad shape if the Corona strikes there too in March. Medical facilities are coming under even more pressure.

From this group, the idea quickly arises of how help can still be provided and what would be the best way to organize it. If the group in the Netherlands in the Lock down is still working on that thought, something will happen on August 4 that will change everything in that country and in Beirut.

On August 4, 2020, an unprecedentedly heavy explosion destroyed a large part of the Lebanese capital within seconds. The damage is enormous, the human suffering hard to comprehend.

The sad balance: 200 dead, 6,000 injured, 300,000 homeless!


Background and establishment of the foundation


The explosion of August 4, 2020 in Beirut is the direct reason for the establishment of the VVL foundation, veterans for Lebanon.


August 12, 2020
At the initiative of Bert Kleine Schaars, the campaign 'Veterans help Beirut' is being set up together with the Veterans Institute and the Foundation for the Support of Veterans Activities (OVA).

August 14, 2020
Bert Kleine Schaars is a guest in the TV program Een Today, where he gets the opportunity to draw attention to the action.

September 22, 2020
Intermediate position of the aid campaign: more than € 20,000.

September 29, 2020
Establishment of the 'Foundation VVL, veterans for lebanon'.

Board members of the foundation

  • Bert Kleine Schaars
  • Jeannet Kleine Schaars
  • Fred van der Ploeg
  • Janos Loczi
  • Siem Kersten

Objective of the foundation

  • Promoting the friendships of the Dutch with Lebanon and Lebanese;
  • Promoting knowledge of the archaeological riches of Lebanon in the Netherlands;
  • Promote Lebanon as a country and travel destination;
  • Supporting the preparation and guidance of UNIFIL veterans on return trips;
  • Supporting targeted aid actions to offer support and/or relief goods for or in Lebanon.

In collaboration with Containers of Love, we as a foundation are still committed to sending relief supplies to Beirut with the help of our sponsors. Every transport means a lot of arrangements and, in addition to careful planning, requires targeted supervision of the execution. Because we want to be sure that the containers not only arrive, but also that all relief supplies on site find their way to the planned final destination as quickly as possible. Given the current circumstances in Lebanon, this is a challenging operation.

Several dozen containers have now been successfully shipped. But many more transports will be needed. This is not possible without financial and material support. In that regard, we would like to make an urgent appeal to you and to companies that want to contribute to the reconstruction of the city of Beirut and to that beautiful country full of potential, which Lebanon was and is!

Help is urgently needed! On behalf of the people of Lebanon: THANK YOU!

See also our weblog above for the current state of affairs.