WIMLER began as a small NGO initiated by Wim and Leila Rispens-Noel primarily to contribute to the development of the municipality of Bansalan and other towns in Mindanao where Leila came from.
The idea of helping the poor children started during one of their holidays in the Philippines. Their two sons, Michael and Richard who were just 7and 9 years old at that time asked their mother why there were many children who were not at school. Leila told their sons that the parents of the children are very poor that they could not afford to send their children to school. They asked how much it would cost to send a child to school, Leila answered: “If you do not go to buy hamburger four times, then you can help a child to go to school”. The eldest, Michael, told his younger brother that both of them will forego their trips to McDonald’s so they can save the money and send a child to school. When Leila heard this, she proposed that if they will keep their promise, she will double the money they saved. Michael and Richard kept their promise and so they were able to send a couple of children to school. When their Dutch grandparents heard about it, they also gave money. And then followed the aunts and neighbors. This sending of poor children to school started small but they did it every year.
In 2006, Leila, Wim, Michael and Richard finally agreed to formalize their “giving back” by registering WIMLER Partnership for Social Progress, a family initiative. Initially, they were the first co-founders. In 2009, Leila decided to broaden the stakeholders of WIMLER by forming a Board of Directors composed of people representing various expertise. At present, Leila is the only Rispens left in the Board of WIMLER Philippines.
WIMLER supports projects which benefit local communities particularly women and out-of-school youths. To “Give Back” to the community where she came from is the primary reason why Leila Rispens-Noel, founder and president, set up the WIMLER Foundation. It is also a way for Leila to “give back” because she had experienced poverty, and if not for the financial support of a priest in Chicago whom Leila did not even know in person, she would not have been able to finish her college education.
Leila left her hometown in 1979 to live in the Netherlands, but she has not stopped supporting the local communities. WIMLER receives financial and material support from friends, families, and small foundations from various countries in the world.
After living for 29 years in the Netherlands, Leila is currently based in Hong Kong. In November 2011, she co-founded WIMLER Foundation Hong Kong. Today, the Wimler Foundation Team is composed of professionals from different fields of expertise.