Influencer Juny Sluis
Interview April 2023
Could you share with us some information about your family life?
I was born in Curaçao, as were my both parents. I come from a family of 6 siblings of which 4 sisters. My parents were very crucial in what I have become because of the education I got from them at home and the fact that they allowed me to be part of different social organizations like scouting since I was 10 or 11 years old. I was a member of the Sint Tarcisius scouting group led by scoutmaster Roosberg for years. As I grew up to become a responsible adult under the leadership of Roosberg, we also became close friends until his passing away some years ago. My parents also made it possible for us to follow the best available formal education. I attended Sint Thomas College at the primary and secondary school levels. My father had to pay Ang 17,50 per month for me and my brother as there was a difference in those days between schools offering free education and schools where you had to pay monthly tuition. This was no small feat as if you would correct this amount for inflation you are talking about Ang 175,- to Ang 200,- per month. So I am very aware of the efforts my father made to allow us to attend school. My father was a simple bus driver, an entrepreneur that had to take care of a family of 8, so it required great effort. My parents gave us attention and made us responsible citizens aware of getting results in whatever we undertake, which is something, sorry to say, I see that is lacking in lots of families these days. I can notice in the voluntary work I am involved in, that this aspect of education in families is becoming less and less. Children are being raised loosely, this I didn’t experience when I was growing up. I was born and raised grew in Souax a neighborhood that developed without proper planification.
I was raised based on the principle that “It is not because a boss asked you to do something, but irrespective of whom you were doing something for, you had to be responsible and deliver results”.
I was married 45 years to my late wife, I have two daughters of 46 and 40 years, and three grandchildren that I dearly love.
Could you share something about your educational background and your experience?
I attended Sint Thomas College at the primary school level and secondary school level and after my graduation with a MULO degree, in those days we had to be examined in 14 subject matters, I followed different courses on the MBO and HBO levels in pharmacy in Holland and started my career as an assistant pharmacist and worked for 3 years at a pharmacist as the head assistant at a very young age, managing other assistants that were older than I was.
After 3 years I started my career in government as I was aware that the secondary terms of employment were much better in government. I worked for 17 years at the Inspectorate for Pharmaceutical Affairs of which 15 years as the head of the Section in charge of Drugs Registration and 12 years as the secretary of the Commission dealing with this registration. This commission was chaired by Carel de Haseth. During those years I got my Master’s Degree in Law. I was also the Head in charge of the inspection of the importation of pharmaceutical products and inspection of the pharmacies on all the islands of the Netherlands Antilles, which included Aruba in those days. This required a lot of traveling to these islands back and forth.
After those 17 years, I was appointed head of the Bureau for Industrial Property of the Netherlands Antilles, later to be renamed in BIP Bureau for Intellectual Property, as it also included copyrights. I followed some extra specialized courses in Holland and Zwitserland to prepare myself for this job. As the government was trying to save money, BIP became an autonomous legal entity and also needed to collect its own revenues. As its director, I was very involved in making this transformation a successful one, which it did. Overall I have worked 40 years for the government and 3 years in the private sector.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have been able to serve and be fulfilled with the work I have done over these years.
We know you to be an active leader in Souax. How did you get involved?
I was born and raised in Souax. The neighborhood was close to home, you just have to leave the premises of our home and you would be in the neighborhood. I was always willing to lead. I was the captain of the soccer team since I was 11 years old. We use to organize games against teams from other neighborhoods. Our players were a little bit emotional especially when they lost a game, as I shared with Boeboei Isenia who was representing the Bario Santa Maria. When I left for my studies in Holland others took over the team.
As captain I organized everything basically, I contacted possible teams we could play against, I took care of the ball, and the transportation where we charged Ang 0,10 so that we could have at least Ang 1,50 to pay my brother in law that could take care of the transportation to go and play against a team of other neighborhoods. We collected some extra money so that we could also buy some lemonade that we use to share among ourselves after the games. So I was used to organizing things since I was very young.
My father use to live in Banda Abou in Kenepa and when he started to work in Otrabanda, he decided to come and live closer to town. But as the government in those days was not offering people land lots so that they could build and live in their own houses, Souax which use to be a plantation, started to lease land lots to people where people started building their own houses to live in. And my parents were one of these families.
So I have this sense of giving back to the barrio. Everything that I have achieved was because of my parents of course but in a certain way also because of the influence the bario had on me. The bario is the center where people are formed. Here is where you walk around and meet people and create friendships, learn how to survive and at times intervene to re-establish structure.
So I wanted to do something for the bario, which I am doing until this day. We need more structure and infrastructure. We need to develop more kombibensia, and more discipline among our youth and residents of the bario. One of our achievements as a foundation was, we got a piece of land and we looked for funds via Samenwerkend Fondsen and Reda Soshal we managed to create a meeting place for residents of the barrio where they can also do some sports.
In the coming month, we will celebrate our 25th year as Fundashon Pro Souax. We offer lots of information to the residents, we offer different courses important for the well-being of the residents of the neighborhood. It is hard to step down as I am aware that I am not getting younger, so we are working on a changing of the guard by the younger generation. We need more involvement from these generations, but it remains a challenge to find them.
How important is the neighborhood for those living in the neighborhood? Elsewhere in the world people appreciate what you do for the barrio, but in Curaçao, this is the opposite.
The neighborhood is extremely important for those who live in it. Why? Because there is an African proverb that says “It takes a village to raise a child”.
It is not the responsibility of only the parents. When you turn 5 or 6 years and you can walk, you will start exploring the neighborhood and you will stay linked to the barrio until you leave it. This means that you can even state that you are more in the barrio than you are at home, were you raised.
This is important because the nucleus in the neighborhood influences a child and even an adult. This means that as adults in the barrio, we need to influence our neighborhood positively and make sure that everything functions well. What do I mean? When there is a high kombibiensia there will also be a high social control and this will influence the barrio in a highly positive way and it can even lower the crime rate in the barrio. There are examples of neighborhoods where this has succeeded.
I do have to state that the level of kombibiensia (a strong sense of cooperation among neighbors) has not been that great in the past decade. At the time we don’t even know who our neighbors are. This is not desirable in any neighborhood.
Science has proven that our wellness improves depending on how well residents in a neighborhood go along with each other and it influences even upward social mobility. Human beings want to grow and evolve. Look at our family. My grandfather was a kunukero and my father was for most of his career a bus driver as a small entrepreneur. I have a Master’s Degree in Law and this is how I raised my family. There is social upward mobility in my family. An environment where there was discipline and order promotes upward social mobility.
What is your BIG WHY? What are you passionate about?
I am grateful for the education I got from my parents. My mother was the authority at home and she talked a lot about discipline. My father saw his children more as friends, and this made me who I am today and influenced my why.
My BIG WHY is that I feel good when I receive and give, it makes me feel good to do voluntary work for the neighborhood for example, to give back.
I was always looking for a balance between my work as a professional and as a volunteer, as I have done during my whole life. If everybody would look for that balance, Curaçao would be in a much better place right now. Voluntary work is important. I will continue doing voluntary work. But I would dedicate more time to my grandchildren.
When you are going after your career, proving to myself and others what I could achieve, this at times affected the quality time available for Loved Ones. I have done work in so many important commissions of the government, I have been President of Supervisory Boards and a member of different supervisory boards, and all of this takes up your time. Nowadays, I dedicate more time to my children, grandchildren, family, and friends.
I am grateful for the education I got from my parents. My mother was the authority at home and she talked a lot about discipline. My father saw his children more as friends, and this made me who I am today and influenced my why.
My BIG WHY is that I feel good when I receive and give, it makes me feel good to do voluntary work for the neighborhood, for example, to give back.
I was always looking for a balance between my work as a professional and as a volunteer, as I have done my whole life. If everybody would look for that balance, Curaçao would be in a much better place right now. Voluntary work is important. I will continue doing voluntary work. But I would dedicate more time to my grandchildren.
When you are going after my career, proving to myself and others what I could achieve, this at times affected the quality time available for Loved Ones. I have done work in so many important commissions of the government, I have been President of Supervisory Boards and a member of different supervisory boards, and all of this takes up your time. Nowadays, I dedicate more time to my children, grandchildren, family, and friends.
What are your plans for the coming 5 years from now?
I will continue to be involved in voluntary work. I will continue to be an advocate and try to convince the leadership of our government to take actions that are important for the well-being of the neighborhoods in Curaçao.
I have written an article some years ago that mentioned 7 points that are important for the improvement and well-being of the neighborhoods in Curaçao.
1. Improve the infrastructure of those neighborhoods that developed without proper planning;
2. Address the issue of voluntarism as this is important for the development of the barrio’s, as the more volunteers there are the more that can be done in the barrio;
3. Government needs to be aware that when they take decisions that have an impact on the barrios they need to be careful not negatively influence the functioning of the neighborhood;
4. Government needs to do whatever it can to prevent some neighborhood centers which include the expertise and knowledge built up over the years further deteriorating because of a lack of funds;
5. Government needs to work on repression, but also on the prevention of crime in the neighborhoods;
6. Government needs to increase its efforts to improve the youth their skills and ability levels based on strong norms and values;
7. Government needs to lower dis-employment drastically by promoting working in the agriculture and livestock sectors. I am involved in livestock.
What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
My voluntary work has become more demanding because of the lack of volunteers problem. I believe that there is a need to redefine the concept of volunteerism. The volunteer will continue to do his work without payment, but those who benefit don’t pay either.
But the volunteer is confronted with some expenses and these expenses are slowly but surely increasing for example the costs of transportation. Others have equipment as expenses so there is a need for more funds where the government just like in Limburg when I use to study and live there created such a fund to finance these kinds of expenses. So I know this concept. Otherwise, the downward spiral of fewer people willing to do volunteer work will continue. With some exceptions of course. I like what CurDoet is doing for example. The number of volunteers that are mobilizing has grown as they pay some small amounts and this has flipped this pattern for the voluntary work they are doing.
Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemmas show up? How does that work for you?
Generally speaking, my intuition works perfectly for me. I don’t recall a moment in time when it didn’t work. I also have a book on emotional intelligence that I read from time to time.
How are you trying also to keep up with your knowledge and skill levels?
I learn by working as a volunteer in the neighborhood. I follow and do what I believe to be the best and by practicing what I believe in I learned and tweak it where necessary to maintain the quality standards I want to achieve. If there are new publications that I become aware of, I would do my utmost to get my hands on them and read them. If it is “case law” I would read it even though I will not always agree with it. I will respect the verdict. But it is good to have this in the back of my mind. I notice at times that the judges don’t always have a good understanding and feeling of what is going on in the barrios.
What are your strengths?
I am disciplined, determined, and dedicated.
Disciplined: During my 43 years at work I don’t remember coming late to work. I used to be at the office at 6.30 am already and had an open door policy. If employees would come in early they could visit me to talk.
Determined: I was determined, as I always knew that once I put the goals that I wanted to achieve in front of me, I would achieve them. If higher up didn’t agree, I would not be the kind of person that would go into a corner and weep. I would figure out ways to achieve them anyways, I can’t help it, this is the way I am.
Dedicated: I would work on the goal that I wanted to achieve until it was done. There are just a few things that I wanted to achieve, that I failed to achieve, because of my dedication to getting them done.
Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
In the past, I loved swimming and hiking. It was my way to deal with the stress at work. In the last two decades, I was more involved in cars and motorcycling. I would buy an old car (wabi) and set up a whole organization to work on its restoration, and did this with so much pleasure. This restoration could last for years, but it gave me priceless satisfaction after we finished the work.
I also bought myself a motorcycle and at times you can find me going for a ride to Westpunt, diving into the sea for a swim, and returning home within 2 hours.
If you as Juny would meet a stranger on the bus (let’s say in New York or Bogota Columbia) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer?
I would tell them my name and tell them that I am a proud ‘Yu di Kòrsou’ and that I have Dutch nationality and explain why this was like that. I would tell them that I am a proud father and grandfather.
Then I would ask him what else he wanted to know.
How would you describe Juny in one word or one sentence?
Amiable, honest, and in a certain way no-nonsense. At a workshop I attended while working on our little project, we were asked what we thought of our neighbor. He told the group, that I was kind, but kind of a no-nonsense person.
That was a correct description of me. I am not unpleasant, but I expect one to comply and for those who don’t comply, I would one way or the other get their attention on this issue.
Who are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
Several persons influenced me but I would like to mention two specifically because of the way they handled things.
Prof. mr. Feer Verkade. After I earned my Master’s Degree in Law he was the one that helped me during my specialization in the subject matter of Intellectual property. He is a fantastic, hard-working, nice person that possessed deep knowledge and expertise. He never seemed to have stress, and I worked with him for a long time. He helped us as an advisor for BIE and helped formulate some adaptions in our laws. He helped us explain the changes to the parliament and btw, and all these adaptions in our laws were accepted in the end.
Because of my no-nonsense attitude, I would question, when I was studying in Holland, the fact that he was a Deputy Judge, a professor, and a lawyer at the same time. He explained this to me as I couldn’t imagine that this could happen in Curaçao. I was discussing the options that this might be possible if it entailed another different jurisdiction for example another island or another jurisdiction in the field of law.
The other person is Dr. Maria Liberia Peters. She earned her honorary doctorate at the UoC. I experienced her when she was the prime minister of the Netherlands Antilles. I would see how she worked, how she guided the country, and how she presented herself and worked with people. I also did some work for her. She also had a no-nonsense style but had a way to deal with people correctly, which I admire in her.
What is a trait that is still a work in progress?
At times I get triggered and get emotional. I need to find a way to manage these. If I have reached an agreement with an official in government and the proposal I present is for the good of all, it is at times as though they want this proposal to succeed. I need to learn to leave it and walk away. That is a challenge.
What was a defining moment in your life?
Getting married to my late wife. I started seeing different from different perspectives as we were preparing for the wedding and later on. It increased my responsibilities. I became more serious.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends, and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
I would want them to say that I have lived a responsible life, am very much aware, and complied with my obligations until the end.
What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
I am an optimist by nature. Slowly but surely I am beginning to see that people are realizing, that they need to take responsibility to deal with their affairs. We don’t have to stay 100 % dependent on other people. We are importing 80 % of all we consume that is produced by other people. Lack of clean water is not our problem, thank GOD, but we need to work to have at least 70 % of our food produced locally.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I sincerely hope that the government leadership becomes more inclusive and are not try to gain authority over all in this country. For every small issue, we need to go to a Minister. That is absurd. Furthermore, they need to honor other people’s initiatives and work together with them without requiring them to be part of a political party. The government needs to formulate its conditions and require accountability but they don’t have to be everywhere, that would be very helpful.
One of the 250 Influencers
Juny Sluis is a disciplined, determined, dedicated, passionate, father, grandfather, and no-nonsense community leader who for years has been actively involved in his beloved neighborhood Souax. Over the years, he has consistently combined his successful professional career in government in different roles, with his work as an important leader in the barrio Souax. A neighborhood that developed itself in an unplanned way and therefore lacks sufficient infrastructure. Growing up in a family that emphasized the importance of being responsible, has made him over the years a great advocate of the importance of the Bario’s Kombibiensia. A strong Kombibiensa means strong social ties and caring for each other as neighbors. But it also is important for the education of youth based on strong norms, and values. While he is now actively looking for other leaders in the neighborhood that can succeed him, as an optimist by nature, he stays in constant dialogue with the government, advocating ways to improve his barrio, the need to redefine volunteerism and an inclusive approach towards private sector not-for-profit initiatives. He is also noticing that slowly but surely people are realizing, that we need to take responsibility to deal with our affairs, questioning our 80 % dependency on our food and being an advocate of locally produced food. Because of this, especially his consistency working in Souax during all these years, we consider Juny Sluis one of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao, representing the NGO sector. Look at the list of the Influencers we have interviewed or reported on, up to now.
The goal of the core group of Share2Uplift for 2023
The goal of the Share2Uplift movement is to: “Identify 250 leaders from all walks of life to connect, align and create impactful changes in all walks of life, which includes intergenerational collaboration by the end of 2023.” We will use interviewing Influencers, meet-and-greet events, “train-the-trainers”-programs on “Emotional Mastery” and “Intentionality “as national intervention strategies, to reach this goal on top of our goal to scale up the possibilities to connect, align and create impact via a virtual platform. We believe that by collaborating with Miguel Goede on the virtual Vision 2030 platform, we will accelerate the possibilities to connect the diaspora and others elsewhere in the world and on the island willing to constructively create impactful changes in Curaçao, to join.
As Share2Uplift, we are fully trying to align with this thinking of Center for Curriculum Redesign to promote this agenda in our educational systems and workplace. So, in that sense, we fully support any initiative to make our educational system 21st-century proof.
Share2Uplift aligners are those that:
– Create an inspiring vision of the future;
– Motivate and inspire people to engage with that vision;
– Manage the delivery of the vision;
– Coach and build a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision. These criteria are now being polished.
We also consider these 5 values the most important ones for Share2Uplift aligners. They are:
• Peace from within;
As we will progress towards this goal, we will update you on the progress.
Personal coaching tips
This week we will share some short videos on volunteerism and “convivencia”. We will upload one of these videos every day on our facebook.com/share2uplift page.
CONVIVENCIA – YouTube
Convivencia social – YouTube
What is volunteering? – YouTube
The different types of volunteering – YouTube
Street Compliments | SoulPancake Street Team – YouTube
Volunteer your time – Animated short film – YouTube