Frans van der Lugt (1938) seen through the eyes of his youngest cousin Anne Claire van der Lugt (1982)
My memories of Uncle Frans are always happy. As soon as he was back in the Netherlands, he always visited us in Noordwijk, the place where I grew up. Upon entering, my brother, Pieter Paul van der Lugt, and I were greeted enthusiastically and before we knew it we were thrown to the floor. Frans always wanted to wrestle with us. And then it was time for his special treasures, copper souvenirs that he brought for us from his country. I had no idea at the time what Frans did exactly there. I only knew that he was helping people and living far away. I found that already very interesting enough, because I later wanted to discover the world like him. I also remember that I was very disappointed that I was not allowed to go with Henri (my father) and Carla (my aunt) or on the family trip to visit Uncle Frans in Syria and to join one of his hikes. I was too young, my time would come, my parents said. Unfortunately this day has not arrived yet, but one day I will visit his country, people and projects.
Frans looks over my shoulder
When I think back to the story of my father, Henri van der Lugt (general practitioner), that he was also able to help people there during his visit to Frans in Syria, I think I was unconsciously inspired to commit myself like them to help others. I have now been working for charities, foundations and social enterprises for over ten years. I am convinced that Frans occasionally looks over my shoulder. And then if it doesn't go his way he pushes me in the right direction.
Like the day of yesterday
I still remember the morning of April 7, 2014 as yesterday. It was my first day at work under the wing of two new directors of the online charity agency I was working for. My father called, something he would never just do during working hours. For that reason I decided to pick up immediately. I listened carefully to my father, amazed and asking me to repeat his words "dead?" And "murdered?" After that I never have heard it so quietly again in the open-plan office where I was sitting. When I hung up, one of the directors came over to ask if I was related to…. In the evening I went to Noordwijk and we watched Frans's funeral together via various news channels. In the days that followed, our family was showered with beautiful messages, memorial services and initiatives. This further confirmed my thought that Uncle Frans was a special man.
The idea of the Pilgrimage
In January 2021 I, the youngest niece of Frans, received the book 'Five years later' written by Jan Stuyt sj from my father, Henri van der Lugt. While reading I found out that I am, in my eyes, a copy of Frans just like my father is. When all this had dawned on me, I decided that I want to help continue his projects. I just can't do this alone. That's why I organize the Walk of Homs walking tour, which Frans loved so much. I chose the name Walk for Homs, because my uncle lived most of his life in Homs and is also buried there.