2 June 2021
After getting her BA in 1982, Marieke spent five years working in nursing in the Netherlands, followed by 20 years living in Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda with her husband, Michiel Steenbeek, and her two sons. In Uganda, Marieke worked as a program manager in rehabilitation, orthopaedic, and plastic surgery. Many children with neglected clubfoot came into the center for surgery, and Marieke recalls the difficulty of the operations – for the child as well as the surgeon. After Prof Pirani visited the Ugandan program bringing information about the Ponseti Method, Marieke and her husband, Prof Pirani, and Dr. Norgrove Penny started the Uganda Clubfoot Project in 1999. Marieke became the national coordinator of this first-ever national clubfoot program with a public health approach. The program grew quickly with donated funds while Marieke also completed her graduate diploma in Health Systems Management at the Londen School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 2009, Marieke and Michiel went back to the Netherlands for more than 7 years, where Marieke worked as a research coordinator and specialist nurse for children with cleft lip and palate in the University Hospital of Groningen. Marieke has written and co-authored several published articles, and in 2010, she went to Haiti for emergency aid following the earthquake and performed missions work in Sierra Leone with a plastic surgery team.