Founder: Mgr. Dr. Jan D. F. Heijne
27-06-1914 † 15-01-2000    

Who was the Founder of the TFI?
Jan Heine was born on the 29th of June in 1914 in Barger Compascuum, at the time a rather poor town in Drenthe, near the German border. When he became sixteen years old, as though a miracle, he started studying to become a priest with the priests of the S.M.A, a congregation of French origins. Eventually, he became full-fledged student at the diocese in Valence, France. Ultimately, on the 10th of December 1942, he was consecrated into a full-fledged priest by bishop Lemmens. This however, meant he couldn’t become a missionary!

As a priest, he had many acquaintances that came in handy when he had to hide from the Germans. Growing up helping his father had allowed him to more easily become accustomed to the life of a drifter and entrepreneur. Both mentally and business-wise! After the war, he knew he didn’t want to go back to the life of a monk. After being a priest in France for a short period of time, he got permission from the bishop to go and do whatever he wished to do with his life.

After this, he held many jobs. From a priest aboard ships that sailed immigrants from Western Europe to the USA and Canada to a pastor in a hospital located in Groningen. In this time he met Abbé Pièrre, who would later be known for his devotion for helping the homeless; this meeting leaving quite the impression on Jan.

Unfortunately for Jan however, he later got in a car accident that left him bed-ridden for half a year. During this period of time, he read “Nieuwe voedingsleer” written by Prof. den Hartog from Wageningen. Ofcourse, Jan wouldn’t be Jan if this book didn’t make him want to learn more about this and also possibly do something with this.

During a congress in Rome, did he meet Dr. Jacobus J. Schuurman, who had experience with the aquaculture in the former colony Indonesia. After this meeting did the two form a bond and eventually this bond would lead to a desire to help bring Tilapia to countries where they were needed. The possible initiative of the TIF became viable after this, both practically as idealistically. They saw the harvest of Tilapia as a very viable source of important animal-protein for those who needed it most: Third World countries.
Eventually Jan Heijne discovered that many big-scale projects in the Third World often failed, but a small-scale approach to this problem wouldn’t be very effective. He saw this conundrum as a challenge and tackled it like any entrepreneur would do; by creating a solution that would be the best fit for this problem by himself.

Although he didn’t have a system, he did have a vision: people helping people. He found people who were willing to ‘adopt’ ponds. By doing so, he managed to bring together those who could provide with those in need. Doing this, he managed to create the first TIF pond in Gambia. He stayed in touch with both those who sponsored this pond and those who used the pond, and turns out this worked out to be great. And still works to this day!

He attended many conferences and talked to anyone willing to listen about his passion: people in need, those who need help in order for them to help themselves. In fact, he even was an unpaid teacher at the Thomas van Aquino university in Rome (CESTA) due to the kindness of those willing to aid him financially.

All over the world he travelled, being able to get into both the Vatican and the UN as a result of his efforts to help those in need. All over the world he spread his message to as many people as would listen. He was awarded many times for his endeavours in helping the needy and inspiring those who listened to him. In 1996 he was even granted an Honorary Prelate by the Pope himself. Eventually, in 10-01-2000, Mgr. Dr. Jan D. F. Heijne passed away, but his legacy continues to exist through the Tilapia International Foundation and their best efforts in helping those in need.

All throughout his life, he remained the drifter and entrepreneur in service of the people he wanted to be. In service of God!


P.O. Box 2375
The Netherlands
tel: +31 (0) 30 - 294 8700
fax: +31 (0) 30 - 293 6810

Registered at
Chamber of Commerce
Utrecht, NL
Nr: S-41152315

President: M.J.H.P.Pinkers, Bennekom, NL
Member: V.K.Varughese, Trivandrum, India
Member: A.Willot, Villeneuve d'Asq, Fr
Member: C.Baay, Cimahi, Indonesia