safe place where they can be a child

How it started

At the end of 1998 Jan Willem ter Braak was sent to Tanzania for three years to privatize Kilimanjaro Airport. During that time he and his wife Ida provided support to small hospitals, schools and street children projects. By chance, they visited an orphanage in Kikatiti village. The building was in such poor shape that they decided to buy land and build a new house. They launched a fund raising campaign in the Netherlands to finance the project, starting with friends and family members. To provide help on a structural basis, the foundation was set up on 26 September 2000.

The new children’s home, Kikatiti Happy Watoto Home, opened in October of 2002. The foundation continued to grow, providing assistance to a large number of small-scale projects, including some thirty schools in the Masai country. However, the impact of these small scale projects was short-lived and the board decided in 2008 to review its strategy. From that moment on all efforts were directed towards one objective: a permanent educational programme (managed where possible by the foundation) for the underprivileged children of the Arumeru District.

Kikatiti Happy Watoto Home was expanded to include a pre-school. The second stage of our strategy began in 2010 with the construction of a primary school and living facilities in the village of Ngorika. Since 2013 the foundation has worked hard to implement the next stage of our programme with the help of local educational institutions. The final objective is to help the children to build an independent life.

Board of Directors

Name: Elise Lufting
Title: Chair

Elise (1986) studied Economics & Business. During that study she has volunteered in the children's homes of the foundation in Tanzania for a period of 3 months. This experience impacted her deeply and fuelled her mission to make a positive impact on society even further. This gained her a broad experience in social and sustainable projects. She worked at ING Bank in Asia and London. Afterwards, she managed a Private Equity portfolio for the Dutch Development Bank, FMO, in Africa and Asia. At Deloitte she was responsible for the set-up of a new team that is focusing on investments in ventures.

Name: Fred Arp
Title: Treasurer
CV: Fred (1954) held various positions in the audit and advisory division of Deloitte (1973–1991) before becoming a partner in the firm from 1991 until 1997. Until March 2015 he was the CFO and a member of the Managing Board of Telegraaf Media Groep N.V. In addition, Fred has served on the supervisory boards of several companies, including SBS Nederland B.V., Pro7Sat1 Media GMBH and Wereldhave N.V. In 2007 he joined the board of the Voices of Africa Media Foundation, where he was treasurer until 2014, when he was appointed chairman. Fred has been a member of our board since April 2015, and is due to take over the role of treasurer at the end of 2015. 
Name: Sjoukje de Vries
Title: Secretary
CV: Sjoukje (1986) studied Business Administration and received a master degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. After finishing her study she started working at Randstad, were she fulfilled various roles. In 2014 she co-founded Yacht trainees: a label that helps young talents to become future proof professionals. At this moment she is still working at Yacht trainees as Business Development Manager. Strategy- and concept development are among her responsibilities, as well as learning and development. Besides, she founded Change Makers. This is an exclusive community for young and ambitious talents. Goal of the community is to accelerate the professional development of the participants and to help them create societal-, and organizational change.
Name: Paul Nielen
Title: Board member
CV: Paul (1964), studied business economics and Dutch law, worked for 15 years at MeesPierson and NIBC, and then started his own corporate finance boutique - Nielen Schuman.
Paul is also director of Scheybeeck Investments since 2015 and has been active as board member of Stern Groep N.V since the end of 2017. His daily involvement with Van Nielen Schuman has been exchanged for a board seat at Happy Watoto, as of December 2017 in the capacity of chairman.
Name: Pete de Jager
Title: Board member
Name: Richard Lines
Title: Board member
CV: Richard Lines (1971) is a British national who held various commercial positions in Ernst & Young, Premier Oil and, for 15 years, Wood Mackenzie. Wood Mackenzie is the global leader in Energy, Metals & Mining commercial information provision, and Richard was the SVP for Client Solutions, responsible for the product strategy, development, and pricing.

The father of a young family, Richard has recently changed career direction to spend more time with his family, and focus more on humanitarian goals.


In Tanzania, 58 local people work for our projects under the supervision of a management team led jointly by Mathew Massawe and Peter Claver. Our management team (left to right):

Mathew Massawe Generanl & Financial Manager (3rd on the left)
Mary Kasale Head Social Work (2st on the left)
Peter Claver Head Ngorika Home
Martha Jonathan Head Kikatiti Home (1st on the left)
Jonas Michael Head Ngorika School (4th on th eright)

Advisors to the Board

In alphabetical order:

Kees Bakker Nutrition
Margreeth Brokking Social Pedagogy
Evelien Emondts Communication
Wim Smit Management & Development
Boudewijn van Velzen Education

Video about Happy Watoto


Happy Watoto (ANBI registered foundation) gives orphans and children from deprived families hope for the future by providing them:
  • a caring environment and basic needs for those that do not have a safe home,
  • permanent English education from nursery school up to vocational education,
  • coaching to find a job or to set up an own business.