CWB 2019

Since 2015, Foundation Anders Bekeken organises a pilgrimage to Santiago for people with a visual impairment. We will go for the fifth time this year. Please let us introduce our team, why they want to walk the Camino to Santiago and what their experiences are.


Walkers: Christiaan Waters, Benjamin Veldman, Iris Prins, Jolanda van Leeuwen and Annette Adriaanse.

Buddies: Caroline van Dijk, Arjan van der Veer, Marlies Hoogeboom and José Rasenberg.

Organisation: Annemiek van Munster, Jantina de Vries and Gert-Jan de Hoon.


Camino Walking Blind 2019 is possible thanks to the generous financial support of the following organisations:

  • Groningse Blindenstichting (Groningen)
  • Landelijke Stichting voor Blinden en Slechtzienden (Ede)
  • Rotterdamse Stichting Blindenbelangen (Rotterdam)
  • Stichting Blindenbelangen (Tilburg)
  • Stichting Blindenhulp (Den Haag)
  • Stichting Blinden-Penning (Amsterdam) 
  • Genootschap van Sint Jacob

and some private sponsors.


Benjamin Veldman - walker


"Since 2012 I have glaucoma (an eye disease that damages the eye nerves), sicca (muccous membranes which are chronically infected) and scar tissue on my cornea because of lacrimal gland problems. In my right eye I have a tunnel vision of less than 5 degrees with a sharpness of 10%. In my left eye I only see light and dark. I can see big objects when they fall into my field of view." 


"I was 17 years old and had just finished my secondary school. Suddenly my sight went down in a few months to almost nothing. Normal ordinary things were difficult to do or even impossible. Within a few months my world became very small. I had to stop my study and thought that work would not be possible. This was 7 years ago.


For me this pilgrimage is a true challenge. Not only physically, but also on a personal level. I would like to find a better balance in using my energy, to listen better to my body and also unburden my eyes. Next to this I would like to find a better balance asking for help. I rather do things myself and I find it very hard to ask for help and accepting it. I don't want to 'burden' people and want to show them that I can do as much as possible myself. I am not afraid to cross my boundaries and fail. 


His experience (November 2019)

“First what I have 'learned' is that I enjoy walking and feeling the freedom of it. I do enjoy having daily walks, especially to work. It is healthy and it feels very good not to depend on public transport or other people giving me rides. During our conversations on the Camino I have been thinking about my life. Am I really happy? What would I really like in my life? I came to the insight that I can look further than just being satisfied. Because of my visual impairment at older age I have had many obstacles and had to compromise and work very hard for where I am now in life. I am more than happy, but my ambitions and dreams are allowed to be there also to manifest. I feel more confident that I am an attractive young man. I am not only a good and nice friend, but I have more to offer."

Annette Adriaanse - walker


"I have Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), I see about 10 degrees. Next to this I also have a hearing impairment.


"Joining CWB2019 feels like a big challenge which I find very pulling and at the same time it scares me. I want to be proud again of who I am, living my life without the feeling I am not participating, but being part of it. I do hope the Camino will help me find my own path being able to listen to and trust my feelings again. I expect the Camino to be an enriching experience, one I will never forget."


Her experience (November 2019)

“It was a very special experience I wouldn't like to have missed. The ambiance, the good conversations, the walking and being in nature, being in the moment, all in its pure form. Even when the rain came pouring down."

Marlies Hoogeboom - buddy


"In 2018 I have walked my own Camino. While preparing for this I came upon CWB2018. I seriously thought about sending my letter to apply for it. But because I hadn't walked my own Camino and I had no idea what to expect I decided to postpone it for a year. Now I bring this experience with me for CWB2019.


For me the Camino is about doing something together, beautiful encounters, sharing your story, helping each other in a physical way, as emotionally and mentally. I see the Camino as a shorter version of life."


Her experience (November 2019)

“I have learned a lot. Especially how people can trust blindly, it is beautiful. I am someone who has problems trusting people, because of my work. I work with people who can't be trusted. So I find this wonderful."

José  Rasenberg Jacobs - buddy


On our question about social and communicative skills, José wrote: "I am honest and sincere and I guess for some people maybe too direct, but at least you know what I am about. I appreciate this in people."


What the Camino means to me? "I have been to Santiago before by bus and asked St. James for a favour. I had this wish granted. Now I would like to return to thank him for it. Going on a pilgrimage to Santiago on my own I wouldn't do, so going together with you would be wonderful. It is about time to attach my shell of St. James to my backpack, it has been ready for a few years already, and to have my pilgrim's passport filled with stamps. I hope to return with a pack full of beautiful stories, thoughts, images and contacts."

Her experience (November 2019)

“As you know, my father died at a very young age. He liked birds a lot, so every robin I see around is my father in my thougths. I was talking to Annette about this and we saw a dead robin on the side of the road. Not funny to see, but it was proof that robins do live in the north of Spain. The days after I saw every day one or more robins, and was told by others they saw them too. I really felt carried by my father those days, telling me I was doing a good job on the Camino. When I had the feeling I was becoming a true pilgrim he retreated, because the last days before Santiago, I didn't see them anymore. It was a sign I could and had to do it myself. It seemed I didn't need his support anymore. This is one of the experiences I cherish a lot."

Jolanda van Leeuwen - walker


"I am born with cataract and Nystagmus, this is an eye defect where the eyes tremble. Because of release of retina I don't have sight in my right eye. In my left eye I see 5%. I don't see details and depth and of faces I can only see an expression from very close.


I have heard a lot about the Camino and would love to make this journey myself, crossing boundaries together and experiencing special moments. I have not allowed myself before to do this, and I would like to change that. Not delaying anymore, but doing and experiencing.


I would like to explore the unknown, push boundaries and getting new experiences. Back to basics with good conversations during our walk. I would like to leave 'competition' behind me and look at myself with different eyes, to who I am and am allowed to be."


Her experience (November 2019)

“The simple life during the Camino, carrying little and the peaceful life, getting up, walking, eating, sleaping made me realise that we can do with a lot less. I already had a clean up when I got home."

Arjan van der Veer - buddy


"I was considering walking the Camino with my wife. I got inspired by 'The Pilgrimage to Santiago' written by Paulo Coelho. We love nature and walking, and this summer we walked the Lycian Way, an 8 day trail in Turkey. Beautiful. I have never been a buddy for a blind person. I feel carried, create with my talents to make this world a better place and being a buddy didn't come 'by accident' on my path."



 His experience (November 2019)

“Indeed, the Camino gives what you need. I feel blessed and carried. And (because of this) I could be a blessing for others. I have learned about myself and that I function well within an intense group process. I have learned to live a simple life being in the moment, walking every day with my sisters and brothers and to see what comes on our path. Different from having a full agenda, meetings, projects, etc. The visually impaired walkers were my teachers. A real buen Camino!"

Christiaan Waters - walker


"Since 2010 I have a rare nerve disease, CRION. What I can see? With my left eye I see two letters next to each other when there is good contrast,  about 15-20% and directly around it becomes unclear. With my right eye I have a sight of 2%.


Although my life seems to go well, I realise that I haven't accepted my visual impairment and after nine years it still feels unreal. Walking with Camino Walking Blind I hope to be able to give it all a place and to give myself a better direction in life, by walking, the scenery and good conversations. I will bring my perseverance and broad interest. What I would like to leave behind is the lack of confidence in my body. And there are other reasons, I am really looking forward to be walking 200 km in two weeks time to Santiago with a great group of people. Combined with a great landscape, a big dose of culture, the Spanish kitchen and lots of enjoyment. It already seems to be amazing."


His experience (November 2019)

“We started as a group of individuals and during the walk we became a group having fun together, but also looking after each other and helpful. So for sure it feels we were on our way together and that was a beautiful experience. What I have learned? That I am allowed to be the person who I am. I have been told this before, but in this setting with all strangers it felt different. I am not completely convinced, but it is growing. And when I have any doubts I will think back about the Camino."

Caroline van Dijk - buddy


"I love the mission of your organisation. And I would love to walk the Camino to its final destination Santiago. I have done part of it by bike from Haarlem in the Netherlands to the Spanish border. I find it difficult to do something for my own satisfaction, I rather be of service to others in what I do, so the combination of walking with someone and being a guide to make this possible for the other, tripples my satisfaction. I expect a very intense experience, because being someone's eyes, I will be focused on other senses too."


 Her experience (November 2019)

“Top. I am very enthousiastic, satisfied and happy. It was very special and educational to walk as a buddy in the world of the blind and visually impaired. It brought some emotional moments."

Iris Prins - walker


"I am born with toxoplasmosis, which causes infections in different places in the body, as also the eyes. Next to this I have Nystagmus, this is an eye defect where the eyes tremble. In my right eye I have 4% sight and left I am blind with have a prothesis.


"It feels like an enormous challenge, as I want to trust and know my body again. I have always been insecure about my body and who I am because of my medical history and bad sight that was never acknowledged when I was young. I have lost the complete trust in my body in 2017 because of a cerebral haemorrhage.


I still have a lot to learn about myself and I think this journey can add to rediscovering my self-knowledge and self-confidence. I hope to return stronger and being able to take and ask for my space. I will bring my perseverance, warmth, joy, and shining smile and I will leave behind my insecurities and doubt."


Her experience (November 2019)

What I have learned? Yes, I have more confidence in myself and I do live more in the moment. I do have the confidence now that all will be well."

The organisation of CWB2019:

Annemiek van Munster: "It is the simplicity of a pilgrim's life, walking, being part of a team, the buddies, the hostals, eating and enjoying. Back to basics, good conversations, and on every corner a new surprise. Living outside your comfort zone. We are all the same in this, though without Camino Walking Blind I would never have been able to experience this as a visual impaired person. So I am looking forward to be part of the organisation this year."


In 2016 Annemiek was one of the walkers.


Jantina de Vries was a buddy in 2016 and was part of the organisation in 2018. The curiosity of how it would be walking the Camino for some time, and carrying all essentials on your back was stronger then the hesitation to be part of a group of strangers for two weeks. It was an amazing experience.


"It is beautiful to be part of this team, and to share life for some time: looking after each other, caring for the other, sharing bunkbeds in dormitories, adjusting your walking pace, laughing and crying together, giving and receiving. I am very happy I am part of it again."


 Gert-Jan de Hoon is one of the initiators of Camino Walking Blind in 2015 and co-founder of Foundation Anders Bekeken. "This pilgrimage in 2015 was a very special experience to be part of. I guess we already knew back then that we would do it again. Being a buddy, I find it very special to create opportunities for others to live their dreams and grow as a person."


In 2005 he walked the Camino for a first time as a pilgrim. And the Camino kept calling him back ever since. About his experiences he wrote the book A pilgrimage to Santiago. As a life coach he walks with groups and indivuals in the Netherlands and abroad and also on the Camino in Spain (Camino Coaching).

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"Be the change you wish to see in the world." ~Gandhi