Zeilschip Eendracht: Charity at sea
February 23, 2021
The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound effect on the outreach efforts of our charitable partners, among them Zeilschip Eendracht. We are honoured to support Zeilschip Eendracht's work in bringing underprivileged youth into sailing, seafaring, and maritime life. Due to the pandemic, Zeilschip Eendracht's teaching vessel has been docked in Rotterdam. We decided to check in with Zeilschip Eendracht Foundation Director, Nanda Overdevest to see how she and the organisation are doing.
What is Zeilschip Eendracht's mission?
Zeilschip Eendracht is committed to introducing as many young people as possible to sea sailing and everything that goes into keeping a ship in operation 24/7. Our vessel is sailed with the help of more than 300 passionate, well-trained volunteers. Charity projects are a big part of what we do, especially for young people living with cancer, families in need, and children with unstable home lives. In this, we work closely with Het Vergeten Kind and the National Elderly Fund.
When did you start the organisation?
We were founded in 1938 when the original members created the first Eendracht. That vessel has since been decommissioned and we have been sailing with the second Eendracht since 1989.
Obviously your operations have been affected by COVID-19 though, ideally, in a normal year, how often would you sail out?
Normally, we would sail 320 days out of the year and use the other days for ship maintenance. Unfortunately, we could only sail for six months in 2020.
How are you handling the restrictions imposed by health measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic?
In the summer of 2020 we were working with a corona protocol that was approved by the Veiligheidsregio Rotterdam-Rijnmond (VRR). Since then, stricter regulations, specifically those limiting, if not preventing, contact with partner vessels, have stopped us from sailing.
What, do you think, sets you apart with your corporate partners?
Eendracht is unique because we sail the ship safely all year round with the help of our volunteers. It is because of their passion that excitement about sailing continues through to another generation and to the communities we are part of.
What is your most memorable experience with Zeilschip Eendracht?
The best part is seeing the excitement of our younger volunteers after a charity trip. They are tired but excited to have been part of something so important. They make friends, learn a lot, and, at moments, get to sail the ship themselves. Their growth in self-confidence is beautiful to see.
Of the trips I have made myself, a trip from Sweden to Rotterdam is in my top three. Wind force nine during the autumn holidays is also spectacular, with all of us clamouring on deck in our sailing suits. And, of course, my island hopping trips through the Caribbean are wonderful, warm memories. I mean, barbecuing together on a deserted island, who wouldn't want that?!
Director, Zeilschip Eendracht Foundation