A second home base
A DEVASTATING family loss was behind the formation of the sister city relationship between Gayndah and Zonhoven in Belgium.
Three Zonhoven residents visited Gayndah and spoke about the relationship’s origins and the differences in culture and lifestyle.
THE story behind the formation of the sister city program between Gayndah and Zonhoven in Belgium is a sad one with a better outcome.
Zonhoven residents Roger Bas, Angelina Di Perna and Marie-Claire Hulsman visited Gayndah to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the sister city relationships between the two towns.
Mrs Hulsman works for Zonhoven Council and has been involved in the program since its inception.
“The sister city was established by a friendship more than it was two councils coming together,” Mrs Hulsman said.
“Our former council CEO’s aunty was a missionary in Papua New Guinea and he would do fundraising in Belgium and every couple of years visit Papua New Guinea to bring the funds and take a look at the projects. In 1987 he, his wife, his niece and his niece’s husband all made the trip. Unfortunately his niece’s husband was murdered while on the trip.”
Gayndah man Mike Goebel was in the country at the time.
“Mike helped to organise the search for the body because he was on a guided trip in the forest when he was murdered so they had to search for him,” Mrs Hulsman said.
“Mike was great and helped the family with everything he could, they got to know each other well and after all of that they invited Mike to Zonhoven and the year after Mike invited them to visit him in Gayndah.
“When the CEO got home he told council he wanted to establish a sister city program with Gayndah.”
It only took two years from then to launch the program.
VISITORS: Angelina Di Perna, Roger Bas and Marie-Claire Hulsman from Zonhoven with Stuart Kirk and bull Hazelton Sir Angelo.