Boeginees was born in the city Makassar on the Indonesian island Celebes (now Sulawesi) on August 20th 1930. Her mother, Jeanne Sophie Jacqueline Versteeg, and her father, Joseph Adolf Gagliardi, had 6 children together.
Her father was head of the freight department of KPM (Koninklijke Pakketvaart Maatschappij), a large shipping firm, in Jakarta. She stayed in Makassar approximately one year, after which she moved with her family to the island of Flores in the city of Ende and then to the island of Java in the cities of Jakarta, Bogor (Buitenzorg), Bandung and Semarang.
Her mother died when she was 12 and her father remarried to Eveline Antoinette Shamier who already had 6 children of her own.
On april 6th 1947, at the age of 16, Boeginees emigrated to Holland where she joined the MARVA or Dutch women’s army and worked as a telegraphist. She met my father Sijmen Bergakker who was in the Dutch Navy training to become a pilot during that time. They were married on October 17th 1952. The marriage brought forth 4 children and lasted until he died of leukemia on January 28th 1994.
When asked at which age she started writing poetry, Boeginees said around 18 years of age. In 1956 she wrote poetry for the Navy for a magazine in Biak in Nieuw Guinea where my father was assigned to a bomber squardron as Navy pilot.
In 1960 she emigrated with her husband and 3 children to Suriname.
From 1964-1967 Boeginees wrote for the newspaper De Nickeriaan. During that time she was also board member of the Cultural Centrum of Nickerie.
In 1966 Boeginees was presented a radio program “Radio Rani Kinderkoor” for the Radika radiostation in Nickerie, Suriname. In 1967 another daughter was born.
In 1969 her first book of verse “Glimlach van Suriname” was published, containing much of the same kind of poetry about Suriname which reflects her love for this country and its people.
She explained that the name of the city “Nickerie” actually means: Glimlach van Suriname (Smile of Suriname). Her pseudonym Boeginees was inspired by an indian tribe (Bugis) that live(d) on the island of her birth (Sulawesi). The publication of this book was done with the help of Dr. S. Ritfeld and sold by The Lions Club of Nickerie. The illustrations in that book were done by a Nickerian named Hans Lie.
From 1968-1973 she lived with her husband and four children in Florida, USA.
From 1973-1975 she lived with her husband and two youngest children in Sint Maarten, Netherland Antilles.
From 1975-1986 she lived with her husband and two youngest daughters in Paramaribo and Ornamibo, Suriname.
In 1986 she emigrated with her husband back to Holland.
Her two eldest children live in America and her two youngest daughters made their homes in Holland.
In 1995 Ambassador Campbell asked her to write down her impressions in the Embassy’s newspaper, which she did while vacationing in Suriname.
Boeginees has also written for De Ware Tijd.
In 1996 a story titled “Emancipation” was published in that Surinamese newspaper. Some of her work was also published in the poetry collection of Mr. van de Pol.
Boeginees also had her short stories published in Het Beste (the Dutch version of Readers Digest) and Mijn Geheim (a Dutch Fiction magazine).
Boeginees, Ellen Juliëtte Gagliardi-Bergakker, passed away on March 16th 2007. Complications contracted after heart surgery ended the magnificent storyteller’s writing career and eventful life at age 76. Those who knew and loved her miss her dearly. She had 14 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.