The cats used my house as a hotel to eat and pee.
“I don’t want her to run into other men and get pregnant, so I won’t let her go outside,” my friend Hasan told me. “But you can’t keep her inside forever, that’s abuse,” I told him. We were talking about his cat. Hasan and a friend came to stay. They had brought their pets. My housemate Ahmad and I are actually a bit afraid of animals. We didn’t want to be inhospitable either, so we decided that the animals could come along anyway. What could two little cats do to us, we thought. One of the cats is a cat. He tries to keep Hasan at home. The other is a hangover, stripped of its masculinity. I find that pathetic.
For two days at home, we only heard Ahmad scare the cats. That was his strategy to deal with the cats. I had another plan: to keep them as friends. I was sitting on the couch watching television when I suddenly smelled a foul odor. I asked the guest: “Do you smell that too?” “He said,” Oh oh, maybe he peed somewhere … “I immediately felt less friendship for those animals. They used my house as a hotel to eat and pee. I became increasingly angry with them, because I also had to get out of bed in the middle of the night to find the hangover outside.
I walked down the street and I said, “Kattie, pussie!” “When I met someone, I pretended to be singing. We found the hangover and took it home. I spoke to him sternly and told him to follow the rules of this house. “You are a guest here, my house is not a hotel.” “After my speech, the cat just walked away. As if I was talking to the wall.
After the friendly guests with their thankless cats left, I washed the house for days. Never again.
Mothers see no other option than to marry off their daughters.
I’ve been hearing more and more about child marriage lately. Due to the difficult conditions in large refugee camps in Jordan or Turkey, this is becoming increasingly common there. The war in Syria and living conditions there have led many Syrian families to offer their daughters to wealthy men through a so-called “marriage”, most of whom are already married and older. Parents give away their daughters to save them from starvation. They receive a dowry in exchange for their daughter. The main reason for the increase in child marriages is the absence of the breadwinner in the family, which is often no longer visible due to an arrest or death. As a result, mothers see no option but to marry off their daughters to continue feeding their family’s mouths.
In addition, the girls in question often have poor prospects for the future, because they did not go to school due to the dangerous circumstances. All family members live in a tent, so the marriage applicant makes promises of roses, as we call it in Arabic. Rose promises about money, clothes and a decent life. The bride will live in a house away from the poverty of the camp. In the Netherlands, a lot of attention is paid to underage asylum seekers. They immediately go to school and learn the language quickly. Development is also being stimulated in other areas, such as music and sports. This provides relief in the burden of the parents; they know that their child will end up well. The Netherlands recognizes that shelter should not only consist of shelter and food. Underage asylum seekers are not a commodity here. I am so happy that these young people made it to the Netherlands. A sad fate follows for the girls who were left in refugee camps.
The reality is that I already feel like an internship abroad in the Netherlands.
“I’m going to do an internship abroad,” said a classmate to our teacher when asked what her next internship would be. It seemed like a vacation to her, she said to me later. Combine holidays and school, well what shall I say about that. Going on holiday and discovering new places is part of Dutch culture. The holiday photos fly around my ears on social media.
Several people I know are doing internships abroad. And of course I have to see how much they like it. Yes, I am jealous. I can not help that.
An internship during your studies is new to me at all. In Syria, you only do that in medicine and nursing. You usually gain work experience after graduation. For example, I would start training with a lawyer when my law degree was completed.
“And you Anwar? Do you also want to do an internship abroad? “, A classmate asked me. A compliment, because apparently this student already thinks I’m so Dutch that she thinks it’s time for me to broaden my horizons. The reality is that I already feel like an internship abroad in the Netherlands.
If you see me as a Dutchman, then I am a Dutchman with 25 years of international experience. If you see me as a foreigner, then I am a person with four and a half years of international experience. Employers love that. Thanks to international (work) experience, you always have an advantage over other applicants. I hope that future employers in the Netherlands will find international study, work and war experience as relevant as a study holiday abroad. Because to go to another country to study again, I don’t think about it.
My mother thought that her son would be shot in front of her eyes.
“Al-Nusra will come to attack the neighborhood tomorrow morning, take your parents somewhere else,” a friend told me seven years ago. He was a vigilante in our Kurdish neighborhood in Aleppo. Al-Nusra is one of many parties to the war in Syria. They had a list of two hundred people who they wanted to pick up from our neighborhood. It would be people who worked for the Assad regime, the enemy of Al-Nusra.
When my friend gave the warning, it was already too late. It was not allowed to go from neighborhood to neighborhood in the dark, so we would also be in danger. We woke up early in the morning from shots. It was announced that people should stay at home. My mother panicked. The neighbors wanted to flee the neighborhood with us. Once on the street we came across a heavily armed vehicle that had its weapon aimed at us, because “don’t stay home despite the orders, makes you suspicious.”
A few people were picked from the pack to compare their names with the names on the list. My brother was one of them, he turned out to be on the list. My mother collapsed, she could no longer stand on her feet. She thought her son would be shot in front of her eyes. I approached the man and begged him to release my brother. Then everyone heard planes come over. Planes of Assad. The men affiliated with Al-Nusra knew they were in acute danger. They ran away. We also ran away from the men of Al-Nusra and from the bombs of Assad. On the edge of the district was a barrier with checkpoint from Al-Nusra. 100 meters away one of the Kurds and 100 meters further one of Assad’s regime. At each checkpoint, we declared our loyalty to this group to be passed. We looked back and saw the bombs falling on our neighborhood. Seven years ago, when I became homeless in my home country.