Icon of Kundasang dies at 89
Kota Kinabalu: Sabah’s last Mill Hill Missionary Brother Martijn (Ben) Snoeren (pic) – who introduced temperate vegetable farming that has today provided the economic lifeline for thousands in Kundasang and provided shelter to countless orphans and the poor through his Don Bosco orphanage – died in Oosterbeek, Holland, on Monday.
He was 89.
Brother Ben, as he was affectionately known to most, dedicated 60 years of his life since arriving in then British North Borneo for the betterment of the State in 1956.
Born in Tilburg, Holland, on 9 October 1929, he joined the Mill Hill Missionaries in 1951. He took the name Benedict or Ben when he made his commitment as a lay brother in 1952 and his final commitment in 1954.
By 1960, he and Father William Roetenburg were joined by another Brother, John Hoekstra, who was a vegetable farmer and they worked on the vegetable project.
The project took off in 1962 under the name of Kinabalu Project Development. Soon the project was running two 4-tonne lorries transporting vegetables to Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan.
Most locals testify that the success of vegetable farming in Bundu Tuhan and surrounding areas at the foot of Mount Kinabalu is due to to the Mill Hill Missionaries particularly Brother Ben.
For his selfless service to the church and the people of Bundu Tuhan, he was knighted on 28 April 1994 by the Dutch Queen and bestowed the “Ridder in de Orde Van Oranje Nassau” on the occasion of the birthday of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
On 4 July 2014, church superiors instructed him to return to Holland for his retirement.
He was already in poor health. – Leonard Alaza
Sources: Daily Express