Last Friday afternoon, the municipal co-ordinator asked Erasmus Sports whether they would be able to cook for the refugees again over the weekend. This time, the local authorities had decided not to host the refugees on the EUR campus, but rather at the Schuttersveld gym in Crooswijk. Just a few hours later, steamy penne and Italian vegetables and bowls of salad awaited the refugees.

That the meal could be served so quickly was due to Kevin Bloklander and Daan Antenyismu, two Erasmus Sports employees. They very willingly scrapped all their plans for the weekend in order to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for 270 refugees, says Jon de Ruijter, the gym’s managing director. ‘The municipal co-ordinator was very favourably impressed with the way in which we’d helped the refugees the last time round. When the Salvation Army indicated that it wouldn’t be able to serve meals over the weekend, the local authorities contacted us. After I’d received the phone call, I discussed things with Kevin and Daan. After all, they were the ones who’d have to be in charge of the whole thing.’

Rolling up one’s sleeves

It didn’t take the gentlemen long to make up their minds, says Bloklander matter-of-factly, looking pretty good for someone who’d just had a pretty full-on weekend. ‘When we received the news on Friday afternoon, I immediately got on my bike to check out the facilities at the Schuttersveld gym, and to see what we’d need. Then I picked up a mini-van and drove straight to a wholesaler.’

In the meantime, it was business as usual on campus. Some 40 student administrators of sports clubs from all over the Netherlands were staying at the Erasmus Sports gym, and the gym also had to prepare breakfast for some 85 staff members who were assisting at the University’s Open Day on Saturday. In order to ensure that all went smoothly, Bloklander and Antenyismu were preparing buns at 5am. They then kept working until 9pm, which is when they finished serving their last dinner. A brilliant achievement by the two Erasmus Sports employees, says De Ruijter. ‘Especially when you consider that in between meals, Kevin also scored two out of his team’s five goals in Antibarbari football club’s men’s A team’s game against Hilligersberg’s men’s A team.’

A special treat: hot chips

On Saturday, Bloklander and Antenyismu served the refugees curry chicken, while on Sunday they cooked pasta bolognese. However, by far the most popular dish that weekend were the hot chips Bloklander and Antenyismu prepared as a special treat on Sunday. ‘Sunday was to be the last time we’d cook them dinner, since on Monday the Salvation Army would take over again. So we wanted to serve up a special goodbye meal,’ says Bloklander.

Of course, the two gentlemen were quite tired after such an exhausting weekend. Even so, Bloklander says they’d do it again in a heartbeat. ‘If the local authorities call you with such an urgent request, you do whatever you can to help.’