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About the board

In 2019, four members of the board took their leave and the other board members, Jan Mommers, Peter Engelen and Hans Vissenberg, continued on the basis of the idea of support that is leading for the development work of Het Centrum Internationaal. Two new board members joined in 2020: An van Damme and Mariëlle Jacobs. Both have a background in special education in Breda. Unfortunately, Jan Mommers passed away in 2021. In July 2022, Dr. Rediet Mesfin became the new board member from Ethiopia. We know her as a project leader and she is a good representative of our foundation in Bahir Dar. Lies de Jong joined later in 2022, an enthusiastic young board member who is a welcome addition to our now complete board. Most of the board members now have a special education background. Furthermore , an economically trained board member has a seat on the board. There is no financial compensation for their work to support special need education in Ethiopia.

Three members have a professional work relation with Special Need Education in The Netherlands. One member worked in accountancy and one member works in university Bahir Dar (PEDA). All members are volonteers and are not paid for the work they do for Centrum International.

The Board

Hans Vissenberg

After 40 years of working in special education, it is still a challenge to strive for improvement. At the end of my teaching career, I had the opportunity to join the board of The Center International. The board urgently needed someone who knew a little more about computers. Very handy in the digital age. Developing and maintaining a website became my initial task. Later I contributed to the creation of a communication network that supported all our actions at home and in Ethiopia.
In recent years I have had plenty of time to travel. I have visited Ethiopia and the project 19 times. These visits, together with fellow board members, contributed to the fact that the relationship between the board and the people in Bahir Dar became substantive, 'came to life' and a bond of trust arose.
I took over the presidency at the end of 2019. My big wish is that the project can continue for a long time. That is why tasks within the board are currently being passed on and redistributed so that new challenges can be addressed with new enthusiasm.


Peter Engelen

I have been a member of the board since 2012. In 2011 I was asked to take over the duties of treasurer. I have a financial background so that came in handy. In addition, as a parent, I have experience with caring for children with disabilities. Africa but also in particular Ethiopia is an interesting country.

In 2013 I visited Bahir Dar with a number of board members. Since then I have seen the expansion of our network, the developments in special education and the greater involvement of the parents. That is encouraging, even if not everything goes smoothly.

As treasurer I am responsible for the administration of the foundation but together with the other board members also for a good use of the sponsor money. We must be able to convince ourselves, but especially the sponsors, that there is a correct use of the funds.

Rediet Mesfin Tadesse

My name is Rediet Mesfin Tadesse (PhD.). I am married to Dr. Zerihun Birhanu and have three children. A son: Biruk and daughters: Meklit and Dagmawit. I am 36 years old and live in Bahir Dar, Amhara National Regional States, Ethiopia.

Professionally, I started my carrier at Bahir Dar University (BDU), as a Graduate Assistance with my Bachelor Degree in 2006. I studied my Masters and PhD degrees in Special Needs Education at Addis Ababa University. As a faculty at BDU; I am expected to serve under the three core pillars: teaching-learning, research and community services. It’s as part of my role as a researcher & community service provider that I came to know and start working with Centrum International.

I will never forget the first time we meet with the two senior, visionary and energetic board members of Centrum International: Mr. Hans & the late Mr. Jan Mommers in my office at BDU in 2012/13. Since then, we have been good friends and team members in supporting education of students with special needs at Bahir Dar City Administration.

I could definitely say that Centrum International is one of the practical schools which I professionally matured. I have learned a lot from coordinating the projects led by the organization. Besides, it’s been a great privilege to work with the organizations kind hearted, disciplined and pragmatic board members. I always appreciate the unreserved support by the organization to uplift the status of special needs education: specially related to intellectual disability in Bahir Dar City Administration.

Hence, it's with great honor & privilege that I accepted my appointment as the board member of Centrum International since July, 2022. I hope we will do much better on the development of special needs education in Bahir Dar together with our respected partners.

An van Damme

My name is An van Damme. I am married to Piet Oosthoek and have two children. A daughter Janna and a son Midas. Midas has two sons, so I am also the proud grandmother of Kester and Sylvester.

I am 65 years old and I live in Breda. I don't work anymore, but I've always worked in special need education. First as a teacher at a school for visually and mentally disabled children. Later I became an internal supervisor and school lead

After 28 years I started working as a director at a school for physically disabled students and after 7 years I became the director of a school for students with all kinds of disabilities and diseases.

I feel very connected to parents and students with disabilities. In my working life I have also been sent abroad a few times to give training. I thought that was a fantastic thing to do and that is why I was interested in joining the board of Centrum Internationaal.

I had known Hans Vissenberg for quite some time and through him I learned that a board position was becoming available. I am now the secretary of the board and I am a member of the education committee.

In May 2022 I visited for the first time our schools in Bahir Dar. It was great to meet Ato Mohammed, Dr. Rediet, Mrs. Hana and all the special need teachers. I was impressed of the results in the schools.

I look forward to work with all board members to make the educational project a success.

Mariëlle Jacobs

My name is Mariëlle Jacobs and I have been working as an orthopedagogue at Dutch Royal Visio for 29 years. This is an expertise centre for the visually impaired and blind in the Netherlands. The first years I worked within early guidance, where I supported parents in the home situation with the upbringing of their young visually (multiple) limited child. After that I made the switch to education and since then I have been working at Visio Education Breda. This school offers special and secondary special education to multiple visually impaired pupils between the ages of 4 and 20. All pupils are visually impaired or blind and have an intellectual disability and possibly additional disabilities

Since 10 years I am also involved as an expert with Visio International and I have given training courses in various countries (including Argentina, Nicaragua, Palestine and Ghana). A central theme within these trainings is the design of rehabilitation and education for pupils with multiple visual impairments. To have a real impact in the lives of these children, it is important that you work closely with education, care, the community, the parents and their children. I find it motivating to share, inspire, collaborate and make education possible for multiple visually impaired children so that these children around the world also have the opportunity to participate in social life. That is why I enthusiastically said 'yes' when I was asked to become a member of the education committee of centrum Internationaal. With the use of my knowledge, experience and support, I hope to make education possible for all children with an intellectual disability in Bahir Dar.

Lies de Jong

May I introduce myself? My name is Lies de Jong van Dijk. I am 60 years old and a proud mother and grandmother of 4 sons (2 bonus sons) and 8 grandchildren from 1 to 16 years. When I came to live in Breda 30 years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to work very quickly with children with visual, mental and sometimes motor disabilities. The name of the school is Visio Onderwijs Breda, the sisterschool in The Netherlands. These special children stole my heart. In total, I have been able to work for Visio for 24 years in various positions: from class assistant to manager and later director of Housing & Day Care. The last 7 years as director of Rehabilitation & Advice. In those years I had the honor of being president of Euronet Jobs MDVI. An organization to share knowledge in Europe for the multiple limited child and pupil as its main goal. In recent years, the balance between work and private life came too much to work. That meant that I choosed to say goodbye to the beautiful organization and made a new start as a regional manager in childcare. Back to the basic to work with children on quality between colleagues. Unfortunately, my husband passed away suddenly in 2022. That made me reflect about the rest of my life. One thing is certain: I want to contribute to making the world a better place. Especially for the vulnerable among us. My heart made a 'leap' when Centrum Internationaal Ethiopia asked if I wanted to support this beautiful project by becoming a member of the board.






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