Do I have to ask my father to take a picture with 80 euros in his hands?
Sharing the problems we have as newcomers is important. We learn from it and laugh about it. I often also tell new Dutch people about the endless problems that I myself experienced in my new home country.
When I first arrived in the Netherlands, I thought it was important to be independent of aid. I tried to arrange a lot myself, which often failed. For example, the application for my student grant.
When completing the digital application, I had to indicate how much my parents earned. I could not submit the form without that information. I called DUO employees and explained my situation. “Sir, my parents are in Syria and my father earns about 80 euros a month and my mother does not work”, I said. “You have to prove that,” said the employee back.
I explained that this situation proves rather difficult. Should I ask my dad to take a picture with 80 euros in his hands, and my mom in the kitchen stirring the pans, and then some houses shot in the background to make it clear that is really about Syria? He had nothing to say, but he insisted that I had to prove my parents’ salary.
I went to the Dutch Council for Refugees and therefore asked for help anyway. There too they had to laugh about the situation. The Dutch Council for Refugees sent an email to DUO that I am a refugee and that my parents are in Syrian war zone. It turned out to be sufficient “evidence” for the institution.
In retrospect, I think it is a shame that I did not fill in my father’s salary. Maybe DUO would be so shocked by his low salary that they even gave him a student grant.