Pens, paper, pencils. Not permitted in the camps. Nothing to state a celebration or messages that a new life had entered the world inside those barbed wire confines. No running water, no sewer, and little to cook with.
Almost 77 years ago, a Dutchman was separated from his wife when the Japanese took over the Indonesian islands by force. The Dutchman and his wife were put in separate camps; away from communication, contact, or knowledge of the whereabouts of their loved one. He had no information that his wife was expecting a baby girl, who would soon be born within those gates; essentially an infant prisoner.
Francoise was born where no pictures of her arrival were allowed. The ground was dirty and everyone near her was only given rations of food and water at the limited grace of their captures. It was not clean or healthy for a newcomer to the world. Being deprived of nutrition for three years affected her health and immunity for the remainder of her life.
Francoise only possesses a single pencil drawing of her as a baby by another woman prisoner who risked her own life in the process for even carrying a pencil and paper in the camp. It was drawn by a woman who risked her life for possessing a pencil and drew it because a baby was not expected to survive surgery with an infection in hers shoulder. To this day, Francoise cherishes this single paper of her early beginnings.
At the closure of the war, she was 3 years old when she was finally introduced to a man who they said was her father. He denied that she was his child. She was too small, and unhealthy. Clearly, this was merit enough for him to believe she was not his. Another detriment that would affect the remainder of how she viewed herself for many years to come.
After the war, the family was sent back to Den Haag in the Netherlands; which had been destroyed by the Germans and housing was limited. Their welcoming back to their native country was not very welcoming at all either. Her family was viewed as a foreign draw to the system and their post-war resources.
Education was a real struggle for Francoise, being told she was to frail to start school due to her health, then not smart enough to progress through school because of the late start. Class after class she didn't pass, keeping her in the same grade with younger and younger people after another year had passed.
She was told by nuns, teachers, and classmates that she wasn't good enough or smart enough. Even in later teen years, her mother would accompany her to interview with schools trying to get her into nursing programs and telling every interviewer, "She isn't that smart." Words that never erased from her memory or emotions.
Hearing this over and over, everywhere she went, she struggled to find anyone who believed in her or someone willing to mentor her to change these impressions of what had been laid upon her by others. Through it all, she wondered how come she was the one to survive the camps of WWII when so many others perished with the exact same conditions she was in, but better health and physical advantages?
Regardless of the reasons, she is the survivor. She had been granted life, and she still aimed to make the most of herself. On the same token, many times in the book, she states how so many restrictions were placed on her by others to conform to society standards, were also in the way truly leading the life she had desired.
In the Goal Process, this confinement is called a "Cookie Cutter." Despite being the survivor, she also wondered how, when, and if, she would ever get to lead of life of happiness the way she wanted.
These cookie cutters seemed to have just as much a lasting effect on her self-esteem. In many endeavors she wished for, she doubted and she feared away. Especially in the Nursing school where her talents actually began to shine as she worked and worked to improve her skills in the medical areas.
When she noted that she had done very well in a nursing course, she pointed it out how the tough experience and her determination had truly built her confidence.
English is her 4th learned language, and through the book, she recites how difficult English was to learn compared to her Dutch and German. However, she learned enough English to catch the heart of an American soldier serving in Germany.
After getting married, she made the immigration to America, where she also moved several times. Each move had its own challenges, with money usually being the universal challenge in each move. The book is fun to reminisce about how life was during the 60's when cars were huge, and learning English included black and white televisions. Calling the neighbor was simpler to walk to their doorstep and everyone preferred to have their kids play in the yard.
Fears never left her mind. Taking classes, taking tests, trying new things. Granted, in the end, strength was built that helped her tackle the next agenda and the next wave of fears that came with them. Beating some of the families standards of expectations were often the most difficult.
Despite the few occasions of her father showing he loved her, with tears such as when she left for America, she still had difficulty understanding the man he was. During his funeral, she finally heard stories of how fun and comical he was with his friends and other families. She strived for his approval, but typically felt denied in her endeavors and choice preferences.
To complete facing her fears she finally took the opportunity to skydive out of an airplane. This was one of the largest boosts in her self-esteem for dropping her fears quickly to the ground.
Through this lifetime experience, all she wishes to do now is help others. During the interview with Francoise, she answered the following question: Who do you hope your book helps the most.
"Veterans." She replied. "I owe my life to those who served in the war and saved me." In her 70's now, she now finds ways to help others with their business as she actively helps others through Team National.