[i] Good afternoon. [name]
[r] Good afternoon. [Name].
[i] Nice to have you here.
[r] Thank you.
Yeah. I see you’ve brought something on the table that’s important to you.
[r] Yeah, yeah.
[i] Can you tell me about it?
[r] This is in my memory in my mind of me before. I was in love in Iraq. I have the pictures of me, of me and of my husband. When I used to live in Iraq. And there’s that card of my husband when he was a jeweler. It’s got that address and where my husband’s shop is, too. I always find it in my head, I guess. Like you, I see how it was. I used to live in Iraq, but okay I come here this is Holland. This is also me, my second country, I can say. But I’ve lived in my own country for almost 40 years. I can’t forget soon. Everything is in my head. Yes, it is. I take it with me. I find it…
[i] Can you show us, please?
[r] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] One at a time.
This is my husband. Last picture of my husband, when he’s than I can say about him. Three years he’s been dead, this picture. And this is that map of my husband when he was a jeweler in Iraq. Yeah, doesn’t look like a lot of pictures. Me and my husband. We’ve been in Iraq, in the north of Iraq we’ve taken. This is in that studio in Iraq. Yeah. This is in, I can say, a party in Iraq. We’ve been, and this is from that new year. We’ve been to that new year in Iraq, too. And this is that family in my house in Iraq. My family. This is also, this is in my house, in my garden in Iraq. So, this is. We went to a party. This is also my picture in that party. That’s me and my brother in the north of Iraq, too. This picture in 2006, I took it. This is my birthday. And this is also what we had at the party. This is I think, what year is it? I’m thinking 2000. This picture at 2000 and that one too, yeah. This is my card, then I got married. This is the card.
Oh, you brought some pretty nice pictures and stuff.
Yes, thank you.
[i] And, yeah, and how important are these pictures to you? It’s really important. I always think how I lived in Iraq when I came here and my husband, he died. When I came here three years ago and I live alone now. But that’s it. I, I have to get on with my life. I started now to [to] Holland. Trying to talk Holland to learn Holland. I passed my civic integration exam. And [and] I passed the course to improve my language. Yeah, that’s it. I am doing my best to learn the Netherlands. That’s important, when you go to the appointment or when you go to make contact with people. I need to understand that language of this country. Yeah, and some words maybe I can’t say good ones, but I’ll be fine.
[i] No.
I hope it’s all right.
[i] You speak Dutch well.
[i] Yeah, clearly.
And what was your name, full name?
[r] My name is [Name], [Name] and my last name is [Name]. Yeah.
[i] And what family are you from? I mean how many people were you at home?
[r] Yeah, in my family is not very big family, I can say I have four, five sisters. And with me six and one brother. And all my sisters [married] in other countries. I have one. She lives in Danimark [Denmark] with her husband and her children. And three sisters, they live in Sweden. They too [married] with her husband and with her, with their family. And one sister I have, she lives here in Leiderdorp. She married too, she has two, three girls. And my brother and my mother, they don’t live very far. But I can say next to me, I live in Slotervaart and they live in Slotermeer. I can cycle. This is almost four or five kilometers. Yeah.
[i] And what did your childhood look like? I mean childhood. What was your kid, what was he like?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m the youngest, the youngest of all the family. The youngest of the girls and that boy. And when I was little to 12, my dad died. And my mom, she’s gonna worry about us. Seven children and no husband and it’s very difficult in Iraq when your wife she has no husband and she has to take care of the children. My dad too, she was a jeweler man, but he was in Khanaqin. It’s a small town in Iraq, and when he died. And then me, my uncle is coming, he says I can… Me and I can’t, I don’t know how to say it. Is gonna care [for us], is gonna pay us money to live [financially support]. And my mom’s gonna take care of everything with us. Then when I’m 19, I’m done with my school. I’m a teacher in Iraq, I’m a teacher, and I married my husband. Then he doesn’t [live] with us either, next to my family. And he’s also gonna help my mom to marry other girls go to school. My sisters and my brother and then we have our life [lives] all my sisters are married [married]. Just my brother, yeah. And in Iraq, we live in, then we die in Baghdad, 2019… 90 [1990] they come, we come to live in Baghdad. And then here come 2007. We lived in Iraq in Baghdad. Yeah.
And what is your religion? I mean what do you believe in?
My religion? Yeah, my religion is. I’m not Muslim. We have other faiths. We have in Iraq, we say Menderhea [?] people. Our faith is in that John the Baptist. In that water we do all our culture, we do it. Yeah. And all my family have the same…
Same religion.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And do you know anything about your tradition? I mean how, you just told me about that religion. And what did it look like?
[r] Sorry I can’t understand.
[i] No.
What do you mean?
I mean, what kind of culture are you in when you were brought up at home and stuff? You tell your father that was a jeweler.
Yeah, my dad was a jeweler.
Yeah, and when he died. That money for him came to my mom’s and we took our own house. We live in Iraq with no rent to pay. And but that food, and every month my uncle goes, sends with us… money. He was a jeweler too, I can say my father’s brother is going to help us.
[i] Yeah, I meant it used to be, yeah, everybody got together for dinner.
[r] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] I mean how old was it…what did it look like and stuff?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s a long time ago, and we live in, I can say… It’s a small town in Iraq, it’s not the middle of Iraq. That Khanaqin. But those people are very nice. Don’t tell anyone, you guys have different beliefs. Or I’m Muslim. I’m Christian. [Christian] Never say, nobody and those people there are Kurdish people and Turkish [Turkish] people. Go and talk and we live, and Arabic, we live together, same as those brothers. Nobody say when you eat, when you eat together. Have a nice day, or go if you have something just with us. I can say with my family or something. All the people, all the neighbors come to help. Do you want to help? Do you want to do something for you? But now everything’s changed. For example, when I come here my neighbors six years ago. I live in that neighborhood, I don’t know, what’s the name of my neighbors. Here in Holland is different, not the same like [like] with us. And I think now in Iraq also changed, not the same like [as] before. So people
[i] What do you think?
No one’s gonna help each other. Now, no, just about that money, yeah. The neighbors and stuff, not like [like] the old days. Yeah.
[i] Okay, what did you say, that you were studying in Iraq, what did you study?
I’m an English teacher. I’ve been… almost when I come here, then I leave my job. I have almost 27 years of experience with that elementary school. I’m gonna teach the six to twelve years. We have the elementary school kids in Iraq, this is my job. I do it and I have experience and stuff, but when that problem happened to my husband. I leave [left] Iraq and I leave [left] my job too. Yeah, that’s it.
[i] And when did you first come to Holland?
[r] On December 17, 2007. We come here to Iraq. Because my husband’s problem happened. People come from me, those. My husband, he was a jeweler, and he has a big business with that gold, and he’s a rich man. I can say he was a rich man. And I don’t know they come people with that mask and with that gun. And come to kill for him. And then go all the jewelry store and gold and everything. And those… they’re gonna steal everything and then they’re gonna go away. And then when he wakes up he sees everything going away for him. And they come to kill him. He doesn’t know why. And then I come from, me. They called me, your husband he was in hospital. When I go to see him. What happened Salhe? What happened to you? Says, I don’t know. People come up with that mask [marker] and that car is standing by that… front door of the store and die, come with the gun and hurry up and then leave. And he says I can never stay here. I have to leave Iraq. I might have to come next time and kill you too. Or come and kill your brother or something. I can never stay here. It’s not safe here now. It’s very dangerous of those rich people, I can say. And then we leave Iraq. The problem happened for him at the end of 2006. And then we leave Iraq to 2007, we leave Iraq.
And since when do you live in Amsterdam?
I… since I think 2008 I come here to Amsterdam. Yeah, 2000. Yeah, the end of 2008. Yeah, the end of 2008.
[i] What did you find on arrival? I mean when you came to Amsterdam was a whole new city. What was your idea? What was your feeling?
The first time I came here, my husband was sick. The first week when we came here he was sick and I’m always busy with them. I went to hospital and had surgery. Twice and, I’ve had chemo and radiotherapy and stuff. Then I come here to Amsterdam. I live near Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital. She gives me and my husband a special house. This is next to the hospital, because I always have to go to the hospital and we have to go. Four years I live here in Amsterdam. I can say I don’t know where is Osdorp. Only that I know Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital. Then I come back then Sierplein. It’s next door to my house, that’s it [that’s it]. But, after he died, because I’m scared. I don’t know how to contact people, I only speak English. And my husband he was sick, he can’t walk, he can’t go far away. He’s always tired, he always stays at home or he stays in hospital. And then when he died I can say. Then I start to change my life. I always I’m going to ask, I don’t know where is Osdorp. Is that ten minutes at my house. But I don’t know where is it. Four years I’ve lived here, I never once I’ve been to that city, to Amsterdam station.
Amsterdam station, yeah.
Four years I’ve lived here never, never, never seen anything. If I have an appointment with that one, we’ll take that cab. He’s got a special taxi from Connexxion and Valais. We’ll take that taxi then come back soon, that’s it. And then when he died. I see I’m alone and my mother and my brother she lives in Syria. Don’t come here yet. But now I have to start, I have to learn my language. I have to learn the language, I have to go to school I have to make contact with people. I can never stay home forever. And crying and sad and all that.
And did you study here?
Yeah, yeah I’ve been to school I’ve been to school I’ve been to school I’ve been to school I’ve… Diploma of civic integration exam. And I got Dutch passport and last year too. I went to… Course to improve my language, I always ask the people here in the Netherlands very nice people. I always like to ask people I want to improve my language, I want to have a language coach or I want someone to help me with a letter or I can’t read well. I can say it is not, is a bit difficult language for me, but I do my best to do [do] it. But some time I see it very difficult for me. I want someone to help me, to call for me or to fill out a form for me. Yeah, but it’s gonna be okay with me. Yeah, yeah.
[i] And do you have any friends here? I mean, I do.
Yeah, now I have girlfriend here, Dutch girlfriend. And. She used to be my language coach. Now she’s my friend. She’s always gonna call me. [Name] Do you have anything to help or something? But some time come make nice day together or go with that car. She’s got a car or some time going for a bike ride. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Her name’s Maria. Yeah.
[i] Do you have a lot of contact with her?
Yeah, yeah, not always. She has work. And I’m gonna call her. How are you, Maria? And some time I’m gonna call me. How are you? [Name] I did surgery, she’s gonna help me. She’s been with me to the hospital and to the doctor. And made that appointment and when I woke up, when I did surgery. And I woke up and I see Maria standing by me with flowers, yeah, and with her car she’s taking home. Yes, she’s a very, very nice woman.
[i] And do you guys eat together for example?
Yeah, yeah, she’s, yeah, she’s very nice. I see her.
[i] When you came here in Amsterdam, did you suffer from culture shock? Culture shock means you’re used to other culture in Iraq… And you come here in Holland. You’ve experienced people’s lives in a very different way than in Iraq.
[r] Yes.
Did you suffer from, I mean, in the beginning how…
[r] No, no problem from me. It’s their culture, and I each have my culture. If only you and I could… live together. And we can be your neighbors with me or beside me, no problem for me. Yeah, yeah, I don’t care. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] And are there things that disappoint you in Holland? You know what I mean?
[r] Sorry.
I mean, there are things about people that you see… …but would you rather do it the other way?
Sorry, what do you mean?
Yeah, I mean, are you disappointed? [translation from Arabic: Are there things of people they live here that you don’t like?]
No, no problem for me. Every human being lives his own life, every human being can live his own life the way he wants to live it. No problem for me. Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is their culture. I can’t say why he’s doing it like that, but I think it’s very quiet country for me. This whole place and everything’s gonna be okay with me. It is, yeah, yeah.
[i] And you feel safe in town, too?
Safe country, and beautiful country, and quiet country, and… That’s very, very good for me, yeah. Very different from my own country now. Yeah. Now my own country is very, very dangerous country. I can never go there, I can never live there like this. Without [unintelligible] without food, without drink, without medicine, people go… I don’t know how they live there. Very rich country, but now it’s very poor country. Yeah, people very poor people live there, lots and lots of poor people. They have no food. The children don’t have… medicine if you’re gonna make them sick or… Yeah, yeah, yeah, a lot of trouble in my own country, but I see everything here… I’m gonna be okay. I’m very, very better than a lot of people living in Iraq.
[i] And what’s your passion? I mean what’s your hobby?
Ah, my hobby? Yeah, it’s my first hobby, I like to travel, but I come here… I don’t know how I do it. Every year to travel or to see another country. But I don’t know, I find it a little hard to search the computer. I’m always gonna get somebody to help me find my girlfriend or something, make me a ticket. I say I want to go to Sweden I want to go to Danimark [Denmark] to see my sister or someone or. My family. And I can sew. I can knit. Yeah.
[i] Yes
[r] Yeah, yeah, perfect. I’ll do it. I’m very good at cooking. Yeah, make good food with those cookies.
What kind of food do you make?
All Iraqi food and some Italian food. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] And when you make food, do other people come to your food?
[r] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, if there are visitors or something, my friends or something. I’m gonna… Not just for me and my family, my mother and my brother. If you’re gonna be my friend, I’m gonna make invitations, we’re gonna get together for dinner. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I think everybody’s gonna eat like, say, “Yeah, very good food. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] Because it’s different?
[r] Sorry?
Do they like your food because it’s different?
Yeah, yeah.
[i] And what do you think when you look at Amsterdam like that, what place do you like Amsterdam?
Amsterdam, I like it. I’ve been to the Van Gogh Museum. I think it’s very interesting. And very beautiful, and I’ve been to the Amsterdam Museum. I think it’s very interesting for me. Paintings and how he made Van Gogh I see his paintings how he made. I think it’s very beautiful and very nice for me.
[i] And you have van Gogh, do you know van Gogh?
[r] Yes, yes, yes. And I want when I’m in Iraq I always listen I love to listen to classical music. I listened to André Rieu.
[i] André Rieu.
[r] Music, yes. But I don’t know this gentleman he’s Holland man. I come here my girlfriend and Maria, she says [Name] is this André Rieu you know he is Holland. I say really? [laughter] When I’m in Iraq, I listen to this music. I find music very quiet for me, yeah.
[i] And now you’re still listening?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but now that I know André Rieu he’s Holland I love to see him face to face. [laughter]
[r] Yeah.
[i] That’s your ambition?
Yeah, yeah, this is my ambition to see him. Or if you’re going to party or something, I’m going to see.
Do you have a hobby as music too?
No, only I listen to that music and Arabic music. We have very beautiful voices in Arabic music. My husband used to love the Om Kalthoum. She’s very… She has very beautiful songs in Arabic. And Abdel Halim. And I love Fairuz to listen to Fairuz, morning.
[i] And Iraqi singer?
[r] Morning always I wake up from that music of Fairuz and then I put on my clothes music of Fairuz then I go to work. Morning… Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] And listen to Dutch singer?
[r] No, when I came here, I don’t understand, because my Dutch isn’t very good [laughing]. Yeah, yeah.
[i] What neighborhood do you live in?
[r] Sorry?
[i] What’s the name of the neighborhood where you live?
[r] The Slotervaart district, here at Lely Avenue Station, yes.
[i] And what about over there?
[r] It’s nice for me, I live in my own house. In family home, I have that little garden too. And I have a good little house, yeah. Yeah, is small house. It’s Tartaud-Kleinhof. My neighbourhood is called Tartaud-Kleinhof. I don’t know what that means.
[r] Tartaud-Kleinhof, but I don’t know what that name means in Holland.
[i] Kleinhof.
Yes, Tartaud-Kleinhof. I don’t know what this name means.
I don’t know Tartaud either, but it means Kleinhof.
[r] Kleinhof means small head.
[i] No, no, no, no.
Court, small means small. Court means… [incomprehensible: Arabic]
[r] Street?
[i] [incomprehensible: Arabic] Small place.
[r] Yeah, yeah. [unintelligible: Translated from Arabic: Arch like a small court]
[r] [unintelligible] Okey, okey.
Arabic: Baha, baha.
Yeah, yeah, small court.
[i] And what are your ambitions here in the city of Amsterdam?
[r] Later I can say?
[r] I keep improving my language and I keep to [to]… I can get an education, and I can work with those kids. Small children here, but I find it a little difficult for me because my language is not very good and I hope to do it later.
[i] But how do you like working with kids?
[r] And so, because I have experience with children a long time ago. I know how to make contact with the children. How I can understand each other. I know how I can get on with the kids. Yeah.
[i] You said your mother lives here, too?
Yes, my mother came three years ago.
Are you taking care of her too?
Yeah, yeah, now she’s an old woman, 75 years old, and she’s very tired. Always gonna have trouble, and I’m gonna take care of her in her home. Three times, four times a week, I’m gonna go shopping at her place or I’m gonna clean her home or hers. I’m going to change her body or shower or put on clothes, or I’m going to get rid of her… Lots of things to eat.
[i] You take care of her?
Yeah, yeah, I take care of her. She has a problem with her back, can’t walk properly. She’s had surgery on her back, and she’s got a knee problem too. And now that she’s got a problem in her hip, she needs surgery. And from her eyes,twice I’ve done surgery on her eyes. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And then, yeah.
Yeah, now little goes better can’t walk much. So ten minutes, maximum fifteen minutes goes very tired. Says mommy I can never walk again, yeah. I’m going to walk with the walker. Without the walker it can’t be difficult for her to walk, yes. I’m going with her I’m busy with her. That is, I’m going to make an appointment with the doctor, with the dentist. With a specialist or something. I’ll do anything for her.
So you’ll take care of everything for her?
Yeah, yeah, now my girlfriend, she’s Dutch. She’s Hanna, Maria… They say for me [name] you take care of your mother. Always you take care of her. That system here in Holland. She can make PGB form out of her. And you can do your mother’s care this is a lot to do. Maybe later you’ll ask her to look for work or something. But that your mother that is you do everything of her. You’re working on her all week, almost all week. I’m saying I don’t know, here’s the system. I’m doing it. This is my mom. I do it from her without money doesn’t need to… Take money from her. But I don’t know, that system here in Holland. You can do it, if you’re going to take care of your mother or your brother or your sister you can… Fill out a special form for those people. If you’re going to take care of her she’s called PGB-form.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I don’t know, I’m going to ask. Maybe later I’ll do it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
So in two months or three months maybe my mom’s gonna do surgery on her hip too.
New surgery is she gonna do?
Yeah, yeah, and make new hip from her she’s got problem. And I don’t know maybe I’m gonna ask somebody to help me out this situation or something. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And don’t you get tired of mentally taking care of things like this?
No, this is my mom. I love to do with her. She doesn’t matter to me. Yeah. Yeah.
And now something else. If you’re in Amsterdam, where are you going if you want to go for a walk or something?
[r] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] Where do you like it?
[r] Yeah, yeah. I do it with my brother is in the now winter it’s cold, but in summer… I’ve been to Vondelpark twice or three times, with my brother. We’re gonna take a little walk here in those neighborhoods near my home. We’re going to Amsterdam Central to see a lot of things. To Dam Square to that one, yeah, yeah. Now I know a little better than before. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Market some time stands that market instead I’m gonna go with me… Knowledge or my girlfriend we go together. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, there’s a lot of market here in Amsterdam.
Yeah, yeah. But I don’t know how I’m gonna go. Some time we go by tram or some time we go by bike. Yeah. At my mom’s house, there’s a market every Monday. I go shopping with my brother there and then come back.
And do you like going to the market?
Yeah, it’s kind of cheap and not the same as I go to Albert Heijn to buy some fruit or something. But I see at that market is… Kind of… cheap then. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Then other places.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You said you were a teacher in Iraq?
Yeah, do you have that ambition to be a teacher here?
I love to do it, but I’m finding it a little hard to… I need to learn more, and the language is hard for me. Yeah, I do my best to do it, but it takes a long time. I’m almost 50 years now, now I’m not young. Too fast to learn and all that, I find it a little difficult. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
What do you like about Dutch culture, if I may ask you? What things?
Ah, Dutch culture, you mean?
I mean, you live here in Amsterdam, you get in touch with people. What do you think is something we don’t experience that way in Iraq, for example? What’s nice about the city of Amsterdam with people?
[r] Yeah, yeah. Stands a lot of park. I see it very nice. And with that swan and stuff in the water. Is that water here? I think it’s very beautiful. There’s a lot of green space here and water in it, in Amsterdam and in all the Netherlands I think, I think it’s very beautiful. And it’s going to make my body quiet. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Do you often go to that park to…?
[r] Yes, with those bikes or walking, and I see it very nice for me. People with the bikes here in Holland. And they have other everything the path of bicycle path and whole with those… Zebra crossing and all I see it very nice for me. If you go, Amsterdam it’s everything. A lot of people go cycling, I like it a lot for me there other country.
You’re not used to cycling, are you?
Yeah, I never cycled in my country, but when I came here. I’ve learned to ride a bike. My brother he taught me. And I find the first one a little hard for me. And now no. I just… Very easy, doesn’t matter to me. I go to a lot like I have an appointment or something. Some time I go cycling. It’s very expensive in Amsterdam, if you go by public transport. Yeah, not always. Some time I go to. I go by bike and some time, no, I go on public transport by tram or bus or something. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Would you like a drink?
No, no, thank you.
[i] What personal development have you gone through, been through here? I’ll put it another way. I mean, how long have you lived here?
[r] Now almost seven years I can say almost seven years.
[i] Yeah. Seven years, yeah.
What do you see in yourself that you’ve changed? Developed that you’ve learned new things. What are those things?
[r] I’ve, I like it a lot, I’ve learned Holland. I now have contact with the people, with the Netherlands people. I can make contact with the Netherlands people. Or I got my passport. I got my Dutch passport. I am very happy now, I can go to any country I want now. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Are you proud of it?
Proud that you like having the Dutch passport?
Yes, of course. It is. Yeah, yeah.
And are you glad you live in Amsterdam?
Yeah. Yeah.
[i] Why?
[r] Very glad I lived in Amsterdam. This is a very beautiful city, but a little busy. I can say it’s a bit of a busy city. But I think it’s a very beautiful city. All the city next to my home. If I go to hospital, if I go to public transport or something easy for me. And Amsterdam is a very beautiful city. Lots of museums. Lots and lots of… lots of old buildings. I think it’s very beautiful when I go to the centre, Amsterdam central. I see a lot of things. Very interesting for me, very beautiful. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] And do you have any family here in Amsterdam or in Holland?
Only my mother and my brother, and I have one sister she is married in Leiderdorp.
[i] And you’re going too?
[r] Yes, I’m going on that train with her some time, she lives next to that river. That summer is very beautiful at her house. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] Was the Dutch language difficult to learn in the beginning?
[r] Yeah, a little hard for me, I think. But now I’m going to find it bit, not the same like [as] when I started. Yes, some that first when I am Dutch talked. I do mix English and Holland. When I go talk to those people, in one sentence I do mix. I forget that word, I don’t know how to say it. I say it in English. But now it’s a little better for me. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] And do you see the difference between, say, Amsterdam the more Amsterdam the way they talk? With the rest of the other cities?
[r] I think yeah, they have different dialects.
Dialect, yes.
[r] Dialect, some people start talking. [chuckles] Quick, quick, quick. I don’t understand, I say you can please talk slowly. Yeah, yeah.
[i] And are people here in Amsterdam, friendly with you? If you ask something or…?
[r] Yes. Yeah. I think it’s very nice people. Very nice people to me. If I’m gonna get somebody to help me and stuff, they’re always gonna help me. I have very, very, very close to my neighbors, for example. His very old people, is almost 80 years that woman and that gentleman. More than 80 years. But when I come to my home, I’m always going to ask. If you want anything, we can do yours. If you want something to do. Go ring our doorbell, or go to our door, say. Last year problem happened for me. I, uh… Almost the same time like [like] right now. It’s from the end of the year. And I made surgery. I sat in my home, happy that my brother. He’s coming to stay with me, at almost eleven in the morning. I’ve heard, that with the drill. Someone comes to my front door. I don’t know. I heard something. And my brother he was awake soon. He says [Name] did you hear something? I say, yes. And call somebody quick from me. Got taken from my front door. And then with the drill. My brother’s gonna open that lamp fast. Then he’s seen two people with that mask go fast. And I don’t know what I can do it. And I’m a little sick, I can. I’m in surgery and I’m very very… I don’t know.
Nervous and I’m very scared. I don’t know what to do. Who should I call? I don’t have a phone from the police or anything. Then in the morning, me and my brother, never slept. Then I went to the neighbors. I say Mr. Gerard, can I have a question please. Did you hear anything yesterday? He says, yes. [Name] Did your brother make anything in your house at eleven never slept. I say, no Gerard, my brother was asleep. But came breaking in from my front door to make it. I think the thief has come to make burglary of my home. Really? Why don’t you come with us? Why don’t you go call us at night and say hi. I say, I’m scared. Then wife’s gonna come to me is gonna help me. And that gentleman’s gonna call the police, too. I made a report. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I made a report, and she called from me who… This house, this house of mine, they’re gonna make that front door new for me. And the cops have come to see me and stuff. [Name] If anything happened to you say. Don’t need to say and we’ve been sleeping or… I say, I always find it hard to say. No, we’ve got the same looks on your mommy and daddy of yours. Yeah, I think it’s very nice people. Always gonna help me when something happens to me. Or if I want something to call. The woman says, “Quickly come from me and she’ll do it. Yeah, I think it’s very good nice people and stuff.
They make you feel safe.
Yeah, yeah.
And do you feel homesick for your own country? Homesick. [Arabic translation: homesick]
So, this is my own country. I was born, I see it some time in that TV to see my country. What’s happening in my country. I’m gonna cry. What happened in Baghdad. What happened in my own, why? My country is very, very rich country. And my country is very, very good country. But now everything’s changed in my country. And I can never go back to my own country to go. They might go. I don’t know. They’re gonna kill me or… Yeah, but it’s in my head. That’s it. It’s been almost 55 years I’ve lived there. I was born there. And it’s all in my head when I was little. My girlfriend when I was little and… my neighbors and Is hard to leave everything behind me. But yeah, it’s in my head, that’s it. I now, I’m in another country now. I have to start a new life.
[i] And do you have contact with people out there, for example?
Yeah, on those… some are going to be my… Colleagues at work, or my neighbors are gonna call me on that Viber. Go talk to each other. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Not always yes, not always. Some time’s gonna ask, how are you guys doing? And I’m gonna ask how you guys are, so yeah. Yeah, we miss you. [Name] We very much miss you and your husband. Was very nice man, very sweet man. That’s it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] So you feel safe and happy living here now?
Yeah, quiet country and safe country. And very nice people and all that. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And you told me about your health that you had surgery or something?
Yeah. Yeah, it’s gonna be that woman’s problem. I had surgery.
Yeah, last year, but now I’m fine.
Get better with everything.
Thank you, thank you.
[i] The most important thing or what we’re looking for from our training.
[i] The contribution of, uh, your contribution. So we are looking for what you have added to the city of Amsterdam, or what is your… Contribution to the city? I did listen to your story. You take very good care of your mother.
[r] Yeah.
[i] If she has sick surgery and her hips.
Yeah, this is the fourth time I’ve had surgery. Now when she comes to Holland this is… Fourth surgery she’s had. And she also has new surgery she needs to do it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And you do too… You have a girlfriend.
[i] Who you’re hanging out with.
Yeah, yeah, not very much, three or four that’s enough.
How many girlfriends?
Yeah, three or four. Two women are Kurdish women, Iraqi. One, she doesn’t live in that village here. Near Zaandam and one she lives here.
[i] Do you see each other sometimes?
[r] Yes, in Mercator Square, and I’ll go with her if anything happens to you or if I want something to help me. She says, [Name] you can come to me. I can say one friend she’s Kurdish she’s called Suzanne. I used to be her teacher in Iraq.
[i] And you told her how?
[r] I’ve seen her, yeah.
How was that?
[r] One time I’m on the bus, and I’ve been talking Arabic with my sister on the phone. I’ve seen that woman go look at me. He says you’re Arab, you’re Iraqi? I say, yeah, I’m Iraqi. And what place are you coming? I say we’re in Khanaqin. Says really? Khanaqin? Whoever I am in Khanaqin I am. I come to Khanaqin, I say, she says of me. Do you know who’s in Khanaqin? I say the jeweller, who was the jeweller in Khanaqin? She says sir so and sir so. I say that’s my father, and this is my uncle. Ah really? You have one sister or someone teaching English in Khanaqin. I say that’s me. She says, yes really? I’m in this school when you taught me. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Then you’re my teacher. I say yes, I’m your teacher. Now what do you want? [Name] you want something my eyes I’ll give it to you soon. You’re my teacher.
[i] Very strange that you see them here.
[r] Yeah, yeah, yeah she’s always gonna call me, she’s always gonna ask me if you want anything. She lives here almost seventeen [17] years ago. And she knows a lot of things better than I do. Yeah, she’s always gonna help me, too. Suzanne it’s very nice woman.
[i] So you found your student here?
[r] Yeah, yeah.
[i] Okay. Yeah, so you got girlfriends and stuff now?
Yeah, yeah.
And you’re helping your mom?
[i] And I can take that as a contribution. Contribution means [Arabic translation]: your addition to the city. The things you do.
[r] Yes.
Are there any more things you’d like to say about…?
[r] I want to learn more, this is in that one. I can say that’s the one here that’s gonna pay DWI for me. One time… Then I’m gonna have to learn more, I have to pay for myself. It’s very hard for me. I’m on welfare and I’m having a really hard time paying from me… to have more lessons. And I’m always gonna ask someone to help me. To have even more class. Because if I stay home, and I have no contact with people. Only my mom can come back. And then I go to work twice a week, to… I volunteer twice a week. I don’t think it’s…
[i] Where do you volunteer?
In the south of here in Amsterdam. With that VVR. It’s from the Women’s Refugee Council. This is very nice woman too. I’m gonna go with her… I’m gonna go with her… Of all the Kurdish and Turkish [Truks] and Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iranian people always come and go they have different… Something to do.
[i] Activities.
[r] Making activities. Yeah, yeah.
[i] And do you?
[r] Some of them are going to teach that sewing class. Or some are gonna talk about those women’s bodies, baby fall, or we’re gonna make a lot of things. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And are you, do you teach sewing there too…
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve [given]. I’ve helped those women. If you don’t know then go fuck them. Got a lot of sewing machine from the woman’s congregation. And every woman is gonna sit on that one sewing machine, and we’re gonna help her. To learn, yeah.
[i] And is, uh, that what you do at the community center? What’s the name, or the volunteer work is where?
It also says in that, I think it’s the place of that… Of those old people.
[i] Old people’s home.
Yeah, no. Neighborhood home.
Neighborhood house, yeah, yeah. I take that tram 50 twice a week.
And how many hours do you stay there?
Three hours. One o’clock then come back to my house at five. But some time when I have an appointment or something… Calling that woman, I say, “Whatever. Done with your appointment then you can come. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. She’s a very nice woman.
Yeah, I’ve also learned to make contact with people. Like it very much for me, too. But if I stayed home I forget. Yeah, I forget, you always have to make contact with people. You always have to talk to people, yeah.
[i] Because you used to be a teacher, teacher?
Used to be with people and stuff.
Yeah, yeah. And the Dutch language, if you don’t make contact with people then you forget.
You have to talk to people a lot.
[r] Yeah, yeah.
[i] [unintelligible]. Are there any other things you’d like to tell me about…
No, thank you.
[i] No.
[r] Thank you so much from you.
[i] Yeah, no, yeah, so you do the best you can. You see what you’re doing.
[r] Yeah.
[i] Help your mother.
[r] Yeah.
[i] And go to the community center two days a week.
Yeah, yeah.
And your ambition to continue sewing, maybe.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s been two years, I’m starting my life now to make new ones. I’m staying home. When my husband died. I stay almost six, seven months, I never leave my home I forget everything. I don’t like to talk to those people. I don’t like to talk to anyone. And I’ve been to that doctor, with the gynecologist. Sorry about that… [Arabic translation: psychologist]
[i] Psychologist.
[r] Psychologist, yes.
[i] Yes.
[r] To a psychiatrist too.
[i] Yes.
[r] I can never sleep without medication. Without… sleeping tablet. Because, I always see him with me. I’m gonna talk to them. My mom says, you’re going crazy… What happened to you? He died the sir almost six months ago, seven months ago. I tell Mom, I never promise [faith?]. It’s been 29 years us together. We get married, we eat together, together and then… Pretty soon I’m never gonna promise [faith]. Yeah, something’s happening to me. The first two years when he died. Now that I find…
[i] But now I’m doing better?
[r] A little bit now, yeah, yeah. Not the same like [as] before. I don’t like talking to anyone. I don’t like to leave my home. I don’t like to eat. No, no. Nobody says go eat for me. Nobody says just go to the funeral every day. Then I come back I go to my… Bedroom. And the door’s gonna close. And no one, I just want to stay out of myself. Just cry. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Find goes better with me.
[i] Now goes better.
[i] Good luck with everything.
Thank you, thank you.
She’s… Difficult for me, I leave [bleep] everything. I leave [bleep] my work, I leave [bleep] my home. I’ve lived in my house was 60 yards in Iraq. With three date trees and a very big garden. And two cars in my garage. And so then I come here, my house leaves. My husband’s money was very rich. He’s leaving. And my work is leaving, too. 27 years ago I got a job. And I go to work every day. And I leave [bleep] fast, fast. I’m coming here. I have to wait… Every month to get benefits. It’s very little for me. Find it very little. But it is. That’s what it is.
[i] Yeah.
[r] But I find when I come here. I say don’t matter, only my husband he was on live [in life]. I don’t want anything, I don’t want anything. Only I want him. He was also my life [in life], that’s it with me. But when I came here.
[i] Very different life.
[r] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[i] Okay.
Something’s gonna happen to us, we can’t do anything, yeah.
[i] Well, thank you for talking to me.
[r] Thank you. Thanks from you, too.
[i] Was really nice talking to you.
Thank you, I hope you understand me.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you were…
[r] My language, I don’t know, I’m going well or not well.
[i] I’m fine, of course you can always do better. But it went well.
[r] Okay.
[i] Well understood.
Yes, thank you.
[i] And good luck with everything.
Thank you.
[i] And thank you again. [name]
Yes, thank you.