0619-Anwar: columns 181 – 190

190 – The content of these letters from the government ensures that you immediately get a fever.

For a country at war, the corona crisis is a relief. My mother in Syria is breathing with relief. “It is very quiet, there are no more fights. The streets are quiet and there is less control on the street, “she said on the phone.” Your brother has seen downtown Aleppo for the first time in two years! ” He is in hiding at home so that he is not taken by the army or any of the other groups in the country. My father still has to go to work, because no work means no money. There is no benefit.
In the Netherlands, after the people in vital professions, the students have the hardest. Maybe I think because I am a student myself. We have to stay at home, but the lessons continue. There is no government support. Most students have a side job at a supermarket. Me too. That work also continues, with all the associated risks. One thing I find very strange. Businesses and the municipality are closed. And according to the measures, people have to stay at home. But why do I still receive colored letters? Why are those people still working? Why don’t those people leave me alone? After all, we are in a crisis, and we must not touch any strange things. These letters are particularly dangerous, for example those of the water board tax. The contents of these letters cause you to immediately get a fever and sometimes difficulty breathing. And our Prime Minister Rutte does not want that.
So I’m going to get rid of these letters, which are touched by several people, anyway. Then I would wash my hands and keep me and my bank account healthy.

189 – Prioritizing a younger person, I couldn’t get it on my heart.

The corona virus is currently making the right to medical treatment less and less a right in the world. The elderly are particularly affected, their place in an intensive care unit is not guaranteed. The world was well prepared for calamity. With weapons, armies, tanks and soldiers. We were so busy with that that we forgot healthcare. The strength of each nation appears to depend on something quite different, namely the amount of respirators and the supply of protective clothing.
The law of the jungle now applies. There is no place for the weak, even in developed countries. I struggle with that. The elderly have done so much for us.
I learned from my culture that the elderly are the most important people in a society. Wise, full of life experience and with the most right to speak. Why then do we disconnect them from the respirators to plug them back into a younger person? If we look at a country like Italy, the elderly are already given up. No place for people above a certain age. The war medicine phase has already entered there, which means that doctors can choose who lives and who dies. I’m glad I don’t have to make that choice personally. Maybe it makes sense to prioritize a younger person, but I couldn’t get it on my heart. All we can do is do our very best not to let the situation get out of hand like in Italy. By all staying at home, following up on all measures and ensuring that the virus does not progress through us.
I hope we can be there for everyone in the Netherlands and never have to make such a decision about life and death. Together we can prove that the Netherlands remains a beacon of freedom, humanity and equality.

188 – Within a minute, it was clear: a minority is never insignificant

All who are in the Netherlands are treated equally in equal cases. This is how the first article in the Dutch Constitution begins. People are the basis. At the start of a lecture at HAN about working in a different culture, a teacher asked: ‘Is there anyone who doesn’t understand Dutch?’ One boy raised his hand. “Okay, welcome everbody,” continued the teacher. It was then taught entirely in English. This had already reached the goal of the lesson for me. Take one person in the room who doesn’t speak Dutch into account, wow. That is dealing respectfully with other cultures.
As a Kurd in Syria, you belong to a minority. At home, my parents consciously spoke only Arabic to us. My parents thought that behaving and speaking like the rest of the country would help us. Kurds have a special status in Syria. Some of them have received Syrian nationality because families have lived in Syria for generations. That goes for my family. Then you have Kurds who later came to Syria when there was war between the Turks and Kurds. That group has no Syrian nationality. They are not allowed to work or go to university.
I did not know that group until I started working for aid organization UNHCR during the war. I arrived in a village with unregistered Kurds with trucks full of food, tents and clothes. “We’re going back, Anwar, these people have no papers. We shouldn’t give them anything, “said a colleague. I couldn’t go back. I know what it feels like to belong to a minority group.” We help people, not papers, “I told him. I distributed everything. A minority is never insignificant. My HAN teacher made that clear within one minute.

187 – The heroes of this crisis are those who continue to think wisely,

I walked down the street and had to sneeze. I didn’t dare and tried to stop it. I was afraid people would think I have corona. Somewhere this week there was suddenly a tilt in the whole situation and also in the behavior of people. All toilet paper in the supermarkets ran out. As if we are dealing with a diarrhea virus and not with corona. It is clear that talking about protecting our society is much easier than really taking it into account in our behavior. We became selfish and nearsighted this week. Buying all available disinfectants for yourself is of no use if it means that other people cannot disinfect. The cleanliness of others is a precondition for protecting yourself against the virus. If everyone can get clean, it will help stop the spread.
Buying all the food for your own family is of no use if the nurse, policeman and teacher who try to help you have nothing. If you have an accident or need help in the hospital, those are the people who need to help you. After all this hysterical behavior of everyone, I wanted to take shelter somewhere where I can think. A friend asked me to go to the beach to get some fresh air. “It helps very well,” she said. I went to the beach near Leiden. The amount of wind caused my head to clear. Empty of all stress and negative thoughts. But the wind has a phrase engraved in my head that I don’t forget. They are the heroes of the corona crisis in the Netherlands. Teachers, nurses and anyone who does think sensibly during this crisis.

186 – “The Arnhem municipal secretary turned out to be my buddy”

I am linked to a person from the municipality of Arnhem to support me in making choices. Arnhem wants to help highly educated newcomers on their way. Arnhem’s municipal secretary turned out to be my buddy. He walked over enthusiastically and shook my hand. I started to stammer, I couldn’t remember what to say. Your Highness? His function sounded very important to me. “Just say Rob,” he said. “Shall we take a tour first?” If I’m nervous, I say yes to everything. ,,Yes sir. Um, I mean, yes, Rob.
“We started at the mayor’s room. A historic room with a few chairs and a table. It was not the most beautiful and largest space in the municipality. The meeting room was also an old room with a large table and chairs. The board works in the old part and residents are received in the new beautiful rooms.
I thought of the Aleppo congregation that I sometimes had to go to before the war started. The important officials are at a distance from all people. The whole building is made of marble, they are at the very top. The mayor receives officials in an important room, who give him gifts there. My country of Syria has yet to learn that the congregation is there for the residents, and should not receive gifts behind an expensive desk.
When I went back for my second appointment with the town clerk, I reported to the desk. Sometimes I walk my head in the Syrian clouds and forget about the system here. “Hi, I’m here for Rob.” I expected everyone to jump into the pose to take me to that important man everyone knows of course. The woman looked at me and said: Rob who?

Oh yeah. We are in the Netherlands.

185 – “Shall we go to the supermarket and stock up on food?”
“I feel a little depressed, Anwar, you only hear misery in the news. Deaths, war and diseases, ” said a friend. I feel that too. Now that the coronavirus has arrived in the Netherlands, we panic. “One customer emptied the shelf,” said a friend who works at a supermarket. I also work at a supermarket. I wouldn’t let a customer go out with a shopping cart full of disinfectants.
When the war in Aleppo started, bread and baby powder milk were no longer available in a few days. They were there, but were no longer sold. Crisis dealers are smart. They are waiting for the problem, which was our war, to get worse. After the first deaths, it appears that bread and baby powder milk are still for sale. But only at huge prices, of course. Only the richest people could afford the milk and bread.
I now see that movement in the Netherlands. Hand gel that I have for 80 cents of the Action now costs tens of euros at Bol.com. Here too, in the sensible Netherlands, you have crisis dealers.
“Shall we go to the supermarket and stock up on food?” Asked my housemate. Like me, he’s used to the food crisis in Syria. However, we did not go. We don’t want to be like that woman who bought all the hand gel for herself. We have to do it together. If one person has all the hand gel in the house and the others have no hand gel, the virus will spread. People have to keep thinking a bit in a crisis. My hands have become thinner twice now due to the frequent washing. We don’t have face masks. My roommate and I are going to put underpants on our heads in the worst case. “It is a nice one, isn’t it,” I said. “Otherwise, we will have a new disease because of this solution.”

Strength everyone, and hold on.

184 – A bread costs 1,000 Syrian pounds (SYP) in Syria, and a piece of paper is worth just as little.Syria is facing a new war. An economic war caused by blockades and sanctions. The bloody and devastating conflict that is going on in Syria is also continuing. The value of the Syrian pound can no longer be measured, says my mother in Aleppo. You can hardly buy anything with a low income. The food is extremely expensive. A loaf of bread costs 1,000 pounds (€ 1.78 / £ 1.51). Smaller amounts no longer even exist in coins and paper money. Coins of one pound have not been in circulation for a long time, because you can’t buy anything for it.

The Syrian government therefore started a campaign. “Our pound is our pride.” If people happen to have one pound in their house, they can exchange it for a good amount of food. My mother had just saved one. Just like people in the Netherlands might still have a guilder somewhere. , “I was able to buy a whole kilo of rice from it!” She laughed on the phone. (A kilo of rice costs a few thousand pounds in Syria). The Syrian regime now works with the value of dollars. two sizes, because companies are not allowed An artistic production company recently had to close its doors because it did not work with pounds but with the dollar After the closure they were fined: 350,000 …. dollars!

My mother rebounded for a moment when the rule became known that Syrians from abroad (like me) can buy their military service for $ 6,000. “You can come back. You pay the amount and you don’t have to go into the army!” Every barrier that you pass in Syria has its own rules. “Are you better than me that you don’t have to go into the army?” an armed soldier will say. “Yallah, go to the army with you!” worth as little as the pound.

183 – I live in street X, opposite that huge waste dump

In Arnheim we have been struggling with waste for some time. We have a new system where we have to put our waste in an underground container. For my house it has turned out slightly differently, because the underground container is always empty, but above the ground it is completely full. We can open that container for free with a pass until the summer, so I don’t really understand the problem. Since the containers were locked and you could only open them with a pass, I always have a pile of waste for my home. This has advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is the mess and stink for my house. The advantage is that I can now easily provide my address. “In street X opposite the huge waste hump.”
When I woke up this week, I saw a woman busy emptying her shopping cart. It was full of paint, broken laminate and full garbage stores. I got angry. I made a video of her and walked outside. “Mrs. good morning, that is really not possible. It stands in front of my house and it is forbidden. Please clean it up, it is still free of charge. ” She walked on as if nobody was talking to her. I picked up my phone to report. I arrived at an environmental department of the Province of Gelderland and got caught in the automatic menu. I went to see the woman again. She was there again, because she came with a new pile of waste. “Madam, I’m going to call the police.” She said: “I don’t have a car to take this to the waste station. And I don’t have any money either. And also no pass’.
I was silent for a moment. Putting waste in the container is free until the summer, but I already said that a few times. And applying for a pass doesn’t seem so difficult to me either. She walked away, she wouldn’t listen. This goes in the summer when there is to be paid does not get better. Then give up, I request a definitive change of address. Street X, opposite that huge waste hump.

182 – When I go here to a lady with bare hands, I often hear that she has a husband.

“What cute fingers you have, I hope you will have a ring around your beautiful fingers later,” my mother said when I was a kid. The wedding ring is a common tradition in all societies, and is considered a symbol of perfection. With a wedding ring on your finger, your life is done. Except in the Netherlands, apparently. The Dutch do not marry immediately, or never, or they do not wear their wedding ring. Wearing a wedding ring is experienced differently by people. The one sees it as a sacred covenant in his married life, the other as a limitation that prevents him from enjoying life.

For an Arab woman, a wedding ring means a lot. The ring is a solution for her life, she shows that she has her own life and does not live with her father and mother. Taking off the ring means betraying your husband or wife.

In the Netherlands, wearing that ring, even if you are married, is not important. That is quite difficult for men like me from a different culture. Because not wearing a ring in most countries means that a woman is single. But when I go here to see a lady with bare hands, I often hear that she has a husband or relationship. Even on dating apps like Tinder I find a lot of people with a relationship. What should I do with you? Are you going to guess who’s single? Decorate everyone in the hope that the married women will not forget to tell me that they are married? There is an age-old simple solution for this complex problem. A ring. Super handy, occupied people are not bothered and singles can decorate each other.

I know you don’t like wearing a ring, so will we do it one day otherwise? The national ‘I am busy day’, where all occupied people wear a ring. Let’s say February 1. Every year. Then we know bachelors in one fell swoop where we stand.

181 – If I want to make my mother proud, I might as well request a benefit again.

I think getting up early is terrible since I was little. I always cried when I had to get out of bed. My father works as an electrician at the municipality of Aleppo. He always has to get up at 6 am, because all employees are picked up with a municipal bus. My mother always used my father as an example: “You have to study, you don’t have to get up early, like your father.” In Syria, the boss may sleep late, because yes, he is the boss. picked up by a driver Workers are picked up early, because before that bus has passed all employees in the city, you are an hour and a half further.

I succeeded in studying, I became a lawyer. I could only enjoy it for six months, then I had to flee the war. In the Netherlands, early risers already started in the asylum seekers’ center. We had to stand in line at 7 am, otherwise you would not have breakfast. I soon found out that people in the Netherlands love getting up early. The roads are not full at 6 am with poor people being picked up by an employer, but by people who do have a good job. I am now quite advanced in my higher professional education product design course, with an internship at an architectural firm. The boss is always the first person at work here. At the Aldi I am branch manager one day a week. Just because I am the boss, I have to be the first. Well, the higher up I go in the Netherlands, the fewer morning hours I can lie in my bed. The only people who can sleep late are the people who have no work. If I want to make my mother proud, I might as well request a benefit again. Then I can call her at ten o’clock in the morning, from my bed.7

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