In early quarter 2016, a photograph from Netherlands went viral on social media. It was a photograph of a woman on a stretcher in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. She was taken there to fulfil her last wish, getting a final look at her favourite Rembrandt painting.
Her last wish was made possible by a Dutch charity called the Stichting Ambulance Wens—Ambulance Wish Foundation that helps terminally ill patients to fulfil their final wish.
The charity started in 2006 when ambulance driver Kees Veldboer, founder of Ambulance Wish Foundation, had to shift a terminally ill patient from one hospital to another. The receiving formalities at the other hospital were not ready, and both Veldboer and the patient had to wait for a while. Veldboer asked the patient about his final wish, and the patient — a retired seaman — told about his last wish to visit the Rotterdam harbour. And so, he took the patient to the port. Not only did they visit the port, but the patient also took a boat ride.
The charity has fulfilled the final wishes of around 8,000 people in the last 12 years, with an average of four people a day. Notably, their youngest patient has been a 10-month-old baby whose parents just wanted to take her to home from the hospital and sit on the couch for once. Their oldest patient had been of the age 101, a lady who wanted to ride a horse one last time.
The uniqueness of Ambulance Wish Foundation is that they fulfil patients’ final wishes along with providing an ambulance and full medical back-up. They have a trained nurse on board at all times. Their volunteer drivers come from police and fire brigades.
The driver of the ambulance, Roel Foppen, is a former soldier. He has driven the ambulance 4,500 km from Netherlands to Romania to fulfil the wish of a woman who wanted to go there and breathe her last with her family members.
The wishes that they meet differ incredibly, while some choose to visit the beach, one person wanted to spend time in the company of a giraffe at Rotterdam zoo. Every day the ambulance sets out for a new challenge. The reward of making these terminally ill patients happy is something beyond all the materialistic pleasures of the world.
Kees Veldboer still believes himself to be an ordinary guy with who is just following his heart.
The Logical Indian thanks Veldboer and his team for spreading cheer and making the world a happier place.