“Malburgen is a knife with two sides”
If I walk around in a neighborhood that the Dutch think is a disadvantaged neighborhood, I feel at home. Malburgen, for example, a neighborhood in Arnhem that many would rather walk around. It is a neighborhood just like a knife. One with two sides. It seems as if the knife cuts in the middle of the neighborhood. On the east side are the houses for sale and the working people, on the other side there are many unemployed immigrants. Nuisance, poverty, drug use and crime form the picture from that side.
I met a lady who has been living there for nineteen years and can barely speak Dutch. Only a few Dutch families live in her area. It is also strange that families with children live in a flat, while single people without children live in a house with a garden.
I recognize the negative side of the knife from my own childhood. I lived in a poor area of the Syrian city of Aleppo. We lived in an apartment building without a garden. All workers packed together in a neighborhood. Because we all had a low income, we supported each other.
A teacher in the neighborhood taught the poor children in the neighborhood, a carpenter made the broken door of his neighbor for free. We were hospitable and looked after each other.
The children who grew up in my time, almost all went to college later. I also see these possibilities in the youth of Malburgen. The people in the Arnhem district are also hospitable, look at each other and take care of the youth in the neighborhood together.
The comment of the old woman who barely spoke Dutch was significant. “I don’t want to move. I will stay here until I die.”