‘Ruinerwoldkinderen’ decided themselves that there should be a documentary

Israel (27) fled the farm in Ruinerwold in October 2019, where he lived with his father, four sisters and brother since 2010. He sought help in the village. Then the so-called ‘ghost family’, in which father preached his own religion, became world news. “It was all over the news and a lot was wrong. Actually, almost nothing in the beginning,” said Israel.

Because of the much nonsense that was circulated and the many journalists who tried to approach them, he and his two older siblings, who fled the family in 2008, 2009 and 2010, decided to find a way to tell their story well. A documentary seemed best suited to them. That resulted in the four-part TV series The children of Ruinerwold, which has been on display for the past four weeks. It showed how Van D. had an iron grip on the family and robbed, assaulted and abused his children of their freedom.

Self in the picture

“I never doubted whether I wanted to be in the picture. If you stay out of the picture, it will not come across as well,” says Edino (28). “Ultimately, we are the people who can best tell the story. If you stay out of the picture or hide behind a bar, you make it more shadowy.”

What also played a role for them is that they may be able to help others who are experiencing similar misery. Israel: “That was an important argument for us. It takes a lot of energy, such a whole process, but the idea that you can also help others with it, provides motivation. And that is now also apparent from the responses. Now we know. that it not only helps us in the process, but also other people. ”

‘Responses overwhelming’

Edino: “The first broadcast was absolutely exciting for us, but we had faith in what had been made and we had already seen it. You just don’t know the reactions in advance.” They have been abundant in recent weeks. “All positive. Very understanding and supportive reactions. Really overwhelming.”

Israel had never realized that his decision to leave the family in Ruinerwold would stir so much, he says. “When I walked away, I only thought about our situation. I am also glad that I did not think about the consequences, because then the threshold to do it would have been even higher.”

Concerned about the young

The three oldest children talked about what to do while their father and the youngest six lived on the remote farm, but intervention was easier said than done, says Edino. “We also tried to make contact, but that was refused. We had to meet all kinds of conditions. And we did not know what it was like inside. We were worried.”

According to him, this had to do with the fact that father Van D. could do crazy things in a panic; they had experienced that themselves. “The move from Hasselt to Zwartsluis, for example; we had to leave Hasselt from one day to the next. All our belongings were left behind and we were never allowed to go back”, says Edino. “The transition from Zwartsluis to Meppel went the same way. That happened at night. And that is how the move of the young people to Ruinerwold went. They were not registered anywhere. We did not know what could happen.”

‘Image of father has changed’

In the former home of the family in Zwartsluis, the children found hours of video material that Van D. himself recorded in the 1990s. Some of it was shown in the documentary, for example, how the family lived and how the father told the oldest children that they should never talk about the youngest six at school, “because then Dad might end up in jail.”

“I saw the images for the first time. Very confronting”, Edino responds. “My image of my father has changed completely. As a child I wanted him to be proud of me. You want recognition, just like any other child. We have now gone through a whole process and I dare to say that I want absolutely nothing anymore. feel him. That may sound harsh, but it is. ”

“I now realize what he has done and how much suffering he has caused others. Not even myself, although that is bad, but also especially my brothers and sisters. And I also see how that continues now that he is free. He gives you constantly feel negative. ”

‘Youngest children are doing well’

After the court ruled last month that Van D. could not be prosecuted because of his brain damage, he was released and since then he has lived with the youngest children. They have indicated that they still stand behind him and believe that he has not committed any crimes. One of the five announced yesterday that they had left the family, because he or she now thinks differently.

Edino says that over the past year and a half, he has nevertheless built up a close relationship with his younger brothers and sisters, whom he had missed terribly. “I am confident that they will be fine, but it would be great if they could live freely in the future,” he says, referring to the influence that Van D. still has on the younger children, according to him.

“They are doing very well; they are working, studying or running a business. They are well developed and almost all do it themselves. That is why it is all the more bitter that our father is living with them again.” Israel is now studying at the film academy and says that he is also doing very well.

New lawsuit

The eldest children remain disappointed with the court’s decision not to prosecute their father. Now that he is not convicted by criminal law, they try a different way; They start civil proceedings with their lawyer Corinne Jeekel, to hold Van D. liable for his actions. Israel: “Such a new thing gives hope.”

They seek recognition for the suffering that Van D. has caused them. “We also get that through the documentary, but that is different from the legal system. By doing everything and still getting a verdict out of it, we can also give others the feeling that it makes sense to go to court.”

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