Founding Story

We were founded in 2009 out of dedication to each other and our shared goal of contributing to more global equality.

Carli Kooper founded the Heliconia Scholarship Foundation in the Netherlands in 2009, together with Mili Chana in Indonesia. Their special friendship and dedication to growing together is the basis of our wider Heliconia Community and ensures the success and durability of our mission.

Read Carli's personal founding story below!

Founding Heliconia

This charity was founded after a special trip through Asia in 2007. I had just graduated from high school and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel out of Europe for the first time. During this trip I did volunteer work for several educational projects, because I hoped to learn more about the different cultures and people in this way. I found what I was looking for and had wonderful experiences teaching English to children for projects in Thailand, India and Indonesia.

With Mili Chana, one of the youngsters from Dorkas shelter in Jakarta, I stayed in touch. We were of the same age and immediately bonded in a special way. After returning to the Netherlands, I went to university, but Mili did not have that opportunity. Then the idea was born to start the Heliconia Scholarship Foundation (formerly known as Stichting Heliconia), which we founded officially in March 2009. We now both graduated from a good university!

Our friendship and charity grew stronger over the years. I am grateful for our many wonderful experiences together and proud that we are able to offer evermore young adults a scholarship. I look forward to seeing our organisation flourish far into the future!

It was not always easy, running a charity at our young age, but we have all matured and I am grateful for the many insights that Heliconia has brought me. I believe in openness, because we can only learn when we are willing to acknowledge and research both our challenges and our successes. Both contribute equally to our personal development and a meaningful life. Therefore, you can read about my main struggles and accomplishments below!

My challenges

My greatest personal challenge in relation to the Heliconia Scholarship Foundation was that founding this project arose not just from enthusiasm, but also from feelings of guilt and a fighting spirit. These kickstarted us into the world, but soon turned out to be destructive to my personal health and wellbeing, and of course, also to my surroundings. They were the main reason why it took me ten years of running this charity, before I was able to find a healthy and enjoyable work flow.

my successes

My greatest success in relation to the Heliconia Scholarship Foundation is that eventually, I learned to heal my own insecurities. Shifting my motivation for running this project from guilt to enthusiasm, we have now managed to build a supporting community. My fighting spirit has been replaced by an inviting energy, that encourages all our members to feel safe in expressing their own feelings and opinions. Our organisation is based on friendship and dedication to each other, in all our needs. The Heliconia Community is a place where all members can learn and grow, in their own, unique ways.

The deep companionship that I have with the board members and Mili and Naomi in Indonesia, give a greater meaning to our work. We have shared so many special and joyous life experiences together. Regardless of our different cultural and personal backgrounds, we have always been understanding and dedicated to each other. I advocate now, that love, enthusiasm and personal commitment to each other are the bedrocks of any success. Obtaining a diploma or raising funds for scholarships, gain so much more meaning when they're inspired by these values. I never thought that it was possible to build an organisation entirely on personal value and meaning, for all involved. But it is, and I believe it is also the way forward! It prevents exploitation of people and nature, for the financial gain of just a few, and ensures safety and meaning for the community as a whole instead.