Help A Star becomes a Foundation in the Netherlands

May 1, 2021

On February 12, 2021, Help A Star was officially registered as a foundation in the Netherlands.

With the official designation we also have appointed our first Board of Directors:

  • Xiomara Sushmita Getrouw: Co- Founder & Foundation Board Chair 

  • Tariq Getrouw: Co- Founder & Foundation Board Vice - Chair

  • Rob Van Maanen: Foundation Secretary

  • Peter Troon: Foundation Treasurer & Director of Information Technology

  • Jacques “Jack” Getrouw: Director of Technical Programs

We have added additional team members from both the Netherlands & USA in the following roles who will be added to the foundation board in the near term:

  • Dakota Getrouw: Executive Director

  • Edwin Vermetten: Organization Liaison to Athletic & Creative Sectors

  • Robert Bernstein: Director of Media & Public Affairs

Currently, we are beginning the process for non-profit status in the Netherlands known as “ANBI” status. That will permit Help A Star to begin the collection of funds for future endeavors. 

With this official recognition the organization is planning a mission to Africa in the first quarter of 2022.

Additionally, we will be pursuing non-profit 501©3 status in the USA as soon as the federal government permits. The pandemic has led to massive schedule changes on both continents with respect to our work.

picture of edwin and winning the Michiel

Edwin Vermetten is awarded the Michiel De Ruyter Prize for 2020

January 10, 2021

Royal Netherlands Air Force veteran and celebrated sportsman Edwin Vermetten was awarded the Michiel De Ruyter Prize for 2020 in a modified ceremony; the ceremony was changed due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Vermetten received the award for his quick actions at the 2018 Invictus Games. 

During a tennis match, one of the athletes, Paul Guest from the United Kingdom suffered a bout of PTSD after hearing a helicopter flying overhead. Edwin quickly soothed the upset athlete by singing to him.

One of our key team members, Vermetten has been with Help A Star since our inception,as Swim for Life International. The founders of Swim for Life International, brother and sister Tariq and Sushmitra Getrouw met Edwin at the 2016 Invictus Games and shortly thereafter he joined the team.

The Michiel De Ruyter Prize is awarded annually for those  "who distinguish themselves by praiseworthy acts of duty for the Netherlands."  Edwin Vermetten has certainly demonstrated courage, perseverance and we are very proud of him,

Young child drowns after falling into river in Lesotho

January 10, 2021

Those of you who follow our work know that we are motivated to protect children from drowning. Our goal during the two previous missions that we made to Lesotho were focused on teaching children how to swim and to learn how to drown proof themselves.

According to the World Health Organization drowning is a very serious cause of concern, They have stated the following on their website: 

  • Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths.

  • There are an estimated 320 000 annual drowning deaths worldwide.

  • Global estimates may significantly underestimate the actual public health problem related to drowning.

  • Children, males and individuals with increased access to water are most at risk of drowning.

It is very sad when we hear that a child drowns and it is especially sad when that report emanates from Lesotho. In November of last year a seven year old boy, Mpho Petros Masoabi, fell into a river in Quthing, Lesotho and subsequently drowned, 


We hope to begin a new cycle of missions to Lesotho as soon as the Coronavirus Pandemic abates making travel to Africa safe once more.

Obituary Mr. Harold Robles

December 6, 2020

It is with great sadness and sympathy that the Help A Star team announces the death of Dr. Harold E. Robles. Dr. Robles, a great friend to the organization passed on July 31, 2020 from complications due to an ongoing struggle against prostate cancer. Born in Suriname, South America in 1948, he founded the  Albert Schweitzer Center in the Netherlands in 1973 and remained affiliated with international Albert Schweitzer organization until the mid-1990’s.

His most rewarding efforts were made for the organization he founded and directed in Africa, the Health Promoters, formally known as HPSA (Health Promotion South Africa). HPSA provided basic health guidance and information in the townships of South Africa.

His work was recognized throughout the world and was confirmed by the honors that he received: honorary degrees, Doctor of Humane Letters from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut and Doctor of Public Health from American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts as well as a royal decoration, Knight in the Order of Oranje-Nassau.

When the King of Lesotho, Letsie III, visited the Netherlands in 2019, the Help A Star team was advised that Dr. Robles would be one of the King’s hosts. Since we had made missions to Lesotho previously, we contacted Dr. Robles and thus began an especially important relationship. He provided us with tremendous guidance. His knowledge of both NGO development as well as regional knowledge of the southern portion of Africa proved invaluable as we began to scale up our NGO. His friendship and support in our formative and early days will never be forgotten.


Dr. Robles will certainly be missed.