[i] Good day sir. [name]
[r] Good day.
Welcome to our interview. You have a… I see a newspaper downstairs… newspaper article. Could you please have that one…
[r] That’s what you mean?
Show it to me and… Yeah
[i] Yes, please. And tell me about it.
[i] Yeah. Go ahead.
[r] Yeah, this is sports newspaper [unintelligible] in Afghanistan. Year ’86.
[r] When I was on the national team. I went to… for practice and also to game in Russia… … Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Tashkent. That was all for boxing. Can you ask questions about this and I can give you answers.
In what capacity? As a team member of the Olympic…
[r]Well, so actually in Afghanistan. That sports committee there was called “Olympic”, “Afghanistan Olympic” for boxing or everywhere. That means sports federation and also comes through boxing so boxing federation and also through Olympic. There I participated through national team for those matches and also for training, in Russia. Then there was whole “Sovetski Souz”… All Russia was together.
[i]: Soviet Union.
[r] Soviet Union. Yeah. Then were Soviet Union. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Tashkent were all together. Yes, they were.
[i] That was in the year 1986?
[r] ’86, yes.
[i] And how did that hobby come about? How did you end up in Russia?
If… Through sports, because this was after my interview. Then I came back… came from Russia. Then we get that whole, best and newest channel. It’s called “Kabul New Times,” which all write in English. I did this interview with Kabul New Times. This is for my interview.
[i] That’s a very old photo and newspaper article. Yeah.
[r] Coincidentally in this day and age, there was all… This is newspaper article. I copied this. Like newspapers all so white and black, you know?
But in my time in Afghanistan, there weren’t that many color photographs used. As well as… I have a lot of pictures back then all in black and white. Yeah. Boxing is my life. I did everything with boxing. When I was little, ten years old, I started boxing. And I’m still doing sports and since 2000 I fled to the Netherlands as an asylum seeker. I live here now, but I used to live in Alkmaar. Since five years I moved here in Zoetermeer. And now I live here. And I have kinds of activities here, sports activities. I always take part in the activities with sports and also with Zoetermeer. I also taught ‘Haagse Directe’, together with another boxing coach. And Haagse Directe who’s in The Hague. That’s a very big boxing school, where I also teach together with the other boxing teachers as a youth training. So in the age from 7 to 14 years. All of them, yes… This is just me taking part. Wednesdays and Saturdays, the classes are Wednesdays and Saturdays.
[i] What school did you say?
[i] “Haagse Directe
[r] Yeah. Yeah, I used to live here in Zoetermeer… I have karate boxing school with the Kai Sei, Zoetermeer. I taught boxing together. And also in Alkmaar. And also at some schools, high schools, high schools, I taught for the kids back then and I was in North Holland.
[r] Yes. I started my career, here when I came to Holland. When I was in Kampen.
When was it in Kampen?
Yes, in 2000. Yes, because I had to box as well, but then I didn’t have a permit to stay. I wasn’t allowed to compete, because competition was in Germany. I wasn’t allowed to go to Germany. I had very nice practice there. That was boxing. And I’m still busy. I do nothing more than sports. I’m busy here, so boxing is kind of my hobby. I always do boxing.
[i] Boxing.
[r] I live with sports, I can’t go on without sports. Yeah.
[i] You said you came to Holland in 2000. What was that like to come to Holland?
[r] Yes I also said, as an asylum seeker I fled from Afghanistan to the Netherlands.
[i] Yes. How was that? What… How did you experience that to come to another country? What was different?
[r] What do you mean?
[i] What was different? A different country, but, what…
The difference between Afghanistan and here?
Yes. People have a lot of difficult lives in Afghanistan. And so, too, you, you can’t guarantee your life, you know? Every moment you wait when you’re gonna die. So real war, you know? So you can’t guarantee it. You can live a month, a day or a year, you know. A lot of people have to run. I fled Afghanistan, too. Because there’s a life-threatening situation there. We can’t live there with your whole family. That’s the only way to flee, it wasn’t meant to come straight to the Netherlands. Just have to go to a safe place. That was just… first choice to come from Afghanistan, but I just happened to come here. Finally in the Netherlands, start with camps, OC, AZC and get a permit to stay. And then we get home in Alkmaar.
Was that your choice to go to Alkmaar, or…?
[r] No. Actually, it just was. Yeah. If you decide where I can live. Because when I didn’t know which parts of Holland I could live in. Because for me too was Den Ham… this is called Den Ham – Vroomshoop, this is close to Zwolle That is a small village, but was very quiet village. And yes, I thought it was a very good place at the time. Because there was a very large boxing school “DiVago”. The trainer was a nice person, [name]. I was always allowed to go to his boxing school. But I didn’t pay anything then. I was four, five days training there. Just, uh, they were very happy for me. Got to train there. They were. But then I moved, I got a permit to stay. I was allowed to stay in Holland. I got a house in Alkmaar. That’s also in a small village, near Alkmaar. That’s in Warmenhuizen, between Alkmaar, Schagen, in those parts of North Holland. That was a nice village too, and also… I had a lot of knowledge with a lot of Dutch people.
Do you know them?
Kennissen, yes.
Friends? Yes, friends and girlfriends. All nice people.
[i] Okay. What did you have with those people? What were you doing with those people?
Yeah. Just nice people. Yeah, often. That’s a small village. Those people are very nice. If you have any problems, they can come right over and help you, you know? You live in a village, you don’t make a difference where I live. It’s kind of like living in a family in a village, you know? Like coming to town. Town’s totally different from villages, you know? I’ve lived here in Zoetermeer for five years. I live in a flat. I just have “hello”, “hi” and “greetings” with the neighbors. I really don’t know about the neighbors, you know. Everyone’s doing their own work and doing their own thing. Doing what and leaving when? But if you live in a village in a single-family house, then you should know everyone. Every moment I go out and introduce myself and get to know the neighbours. But here it is… In big cities, it can’t be.
[i] To get back to life in the village. Did the Dutch come to your house? [R] Yes, of course. I still have friends. They come to visit me here. And I go there too. Because I find this piece of North Holland, this is a first life of mine. And kids were all friends and girlfriends there. And I still have contacts there. Better than here, you know, as neighbors. Because when I came here. Kids had to go to school too. But this problem was language. But I had to go to Dutch language school myself. But kids started going to school right away. My neighbours came to my house. They helped with everything, with arithmetic, with reading, with history, with mathematics, all of them. Those neighbours helped my children. They were very happy, everything. Helped me with school materials with my children. They just did.
[i] How did you think the Dutch came home and helped your children?
[r] Yes. Wonderful. Yeah, I always enjoy this kind of nice people. As for me it doesn’t matter, but when I say as human, yes. That’s life. How are we supposed to deal with other people, huh? Could teach you a lot. And that’s a kind of life, you can go with a lot of people, but which ones? You’re going to be the first to see and talk to each other, and this is who those people are. Can you get in touch with them? Yeah, yeah. I still have good contacts with them. I’ll never forget that.
[i] Friends for life?
Yes, of course. We’re Afghan. We have so. Yeah, some people. If friends or girlfriends with someone, if they’re going to move from one piece of land to another and then those people were there, they forget about you. Oh, yeah, yeah. I’m gonna go find a new friend. Yeah, but it’s different for us. If a friend is a good friend, he stays forever, always make friendly contact. That’s right, yeah. With dear Dutchmen, yes, you never complain about that. So life gets better for me, for my children. Then you don’t have to say: money everywhere doesn’t bring happiness, you know? But good life brings good luck. It does. I don’t go after money, I go after the good life. I’m very, very good. I want to be like this.
If I understand correctly, you’ve learned something from the Dutch, from your good friends. What impact has that had on you as a person? Have you changed?
[r] Yes, of course. It’s up to you, you know. People always think, yeah, how to change, you know. You’re just a human being, you know. You gotta learn the way of life, you know. You have to be so accepting of other people, you know. That’s important. Then you’re gonna be all right. Say, yeah, that’s black, that’s white, that’s different faith, that’s different faith. No we’re human, we always look human. We are human. Dealing with other people, then you don’t have to go behind the color, behind the faith, behind the otherwise. What are you, that’s you… To you. Let’s not say if I’m like that, you have to be like me too. No. You’re going to point out how to deal with other people. That’s what you need to learn. That’s what I do in Holland.
[i] Yeah. You say you’ve also changed by dealing with the Dutch, with good friends of yours. What does that look like? How does that translate into your life? Do you act differently than usual? Than you did normally, for example in Afghanistan or…
Yeah, that hasn’t changed for me, actually. Actually, I was already like that in Afghanistan. But I just love sports. Where there’s a place for sports. For me it doesn’t matter which sport: boxing, karate, kickboxing, freefighting, soccer, volleyball, tennis, I do everything. For me it doesn’t matter. But where’s sports? I go in there. Playing kickboxing, soccer, volleyball. I just went in there, you know. Otherwise you don’t do this, you’re nobody. You have to try to get along with the other people. That’s just life. I guess that’s it. And if you think, that’s up to you. What’s the difference between here and Afghanistan? The difference is nothing. Often the people. How do you raise them? Upbringing to know we’re human, we’re allowed to live as human beings. I’m going to go on like this… with other people. Yes, I thought it was very good. I can’t sort of think, oh yeah, I’m gonna be young again after a few years. I have to take a different situation, a different direction. Yeah, I’ve already chosen my direction, you know, when I was little. Now I’m still busy. I’m doing everything here, too, like I’ve done a lot. Thinking for myself, knowing that a lot of people live here. A lot of people live here, but only think about benefits, you know. Only thinking about benefits, but I wasn’t like that. I say I’m young. Yes, I still feel young. I can, even if you don’t have energy, you can work. But we shouldn’t make excuses for your life. Yeah, I can’t, because, yeah, that language, yeah. If you go inside people, you can learn a lot of things. Learn language, talk, like culture, learn everything. You go between people, yeah. If you stay at home, yeah, I’ll just go on welfare. This is Dutch, probably very difficult for me. Yeah, I couldn’t learn. But let’s try. Yeah. I tried. For example, I trained for a stonemasonry. I did work in a stonemasonry company. Six months of training in Utrecht. And then I worked in Dapper Harder. That’s a quarry in Hoorn. I had worked there a lot, you know. I was not only working out, I also worked there.
[i] What kind of work was it? What exactly did you do?
[r] Stonemasonry. You make a lot of stones for cemeteries, sills, all go sweetening, sawing, things like that. It’s all in stonemasonry. When were finally 2009 had come a kind of crisis. I don’t get the chance to work there much, you know. I did work for three years. Then after three years I wasn’t allowed to work there anymore. I don’t get a contract extension either. Then I become unemployed. And I get three months unemployment and then I start again with, yeah… I had to move here, too. That was the problem, my wife was alone in the village. Couldn’t be family, nobody was… Only contact with the Dutch, but not with family was different. Because of the advice of the family doctor I get priority here Zoetermeer house, you know, 2009. And right away I did another training for taxi driver. I got my pass. I had to work in Alkmaar. But at the same time I happened to get home in Zoetermeer. Then I moved to Zoetermeer.
[i] You moved to Zoetermeer, you say. What was the motivation, what was the reason? Did you choose because…
Yes. Actually, that was a small village. My children were already big. Have to go to another school, go to high school. And that was distance from my house to that school was 8 km. And they had to cycle there every day and come back. Because of that. Was that… The problem was with the buses, too. We had a bus until four o’clock, after four hours no buses to that town. And not early in the morning either. Only once in the morning we had to… If people had to go to Schagen. Just was bus, the rest was just once an hour until four o’clock was bus. I thought we’d go to big cities, then you could take care of the kids now. Yeah, they were all here, the high schools go on. But together at school, are close. I don’t have a problem with the school. And hobbies too, sports. I’m still busy in the Haagse Directe with sports, with boxing. That’s for me… and also working as a taxi driver at Connexxion in The Hague.
It was… The choice for Zoetermeer was more or less practical.
[r] Yes, practical.
Not so much that you said, oh, I have family there or…
[r] That was the reason, that was the reason.
[i] Yeah. Tell me more about that?
Yeah, there’s a lot of Afghans living here if you look in Zoetermeer. I think 1200 or 1500 Afghans live in Zoetermeer. Look, you’re going to meet those people. That’s just the way it is. I don’t feel like a foreigner anymore, you know. That’s another reason to come here in Zoetermeer.
[i] And with that network, already set up with the Afghans?
Yeah, actually, you can’t make the network here. My own network is just sports, you know? The network of those people as a sport. Yeah, Afghans do have acquaintances, if you’re gonna go out there, if you’re gonna visit those special days. And we also go to their house to visit. Sitting around talking, that’s different, like some kind of network you can [unintelligible]. But network of us is only sports. It’s just that.
[r] Interesting. You actually came here to network with the Afghans, but that’s not so… Yeah, not so close, actually.
No, actually that’s goal of mine was to make it easy for the kids to go to school, you know? That’s how you go to college or high school. There was only elementary school there. From elementary school, they have to go to high school. Now they all are, yeah. I have four kids. The youngest is ten.
[i] And the others? Others: eldest is 22 and 19 and 17. They were all well educated and well educated. The eldest has electrical engineering and the second son has economics, banking and insurance. That’s his second year and will be his third year. And my daughter is Zorg, the first year. They were all close, they could just be right… And there, too, they can easily find an internship. Around Zoetermeer and Rotterdam, The Hague, Delft and that side are all close by. That’s also solved from internship. There was also, was difficult to go for an internship, where do you go? They just had to go to Alkmaar or Amsterdam, that side to come. And now it’s just different from there. And still for me as a sport as my hobbies. I can always do here, but what I want, I can do.
[i] Tell me more about your kids. They’re studying now. Are they still working? The eldest…
[r] No.
Not yet. They’re all studying. Oh, good. Can you please tell me what you look like every day, like here in Zoetermeer?
Yeah. I don’t have to complain. I’m happy about everything. I have everything normal. I, uh… yeah. That’s what the person says. How’s he gonna choose to live? That’s important who you are. If you make difficult, if you’re going to live in the Queen’s palace, that’s difficult for you. If wanting to make yourself easy for you, that’s all. You can live easy. I can live easy. I can always cope. I have a job. I’ve got hobbies, and I’ve got kids, too, a good education. Then you don’t have to whine or complain. I’m very happy for my life. Here in the Netherlands. Yes, because as we always say, that’s in my own words. I always have to thank those people, you know. It’s not that important to me, but my kids can live. Have a good life. That’s, uh… ordinary. You can’t do that in your own country. You know the situation in your own country. And no one’s gonna interfere with your life here. If you’re good, other people aren’t gonna interfere with you. Say here live criminal, here live killer, here live thieves. No, they don’t. Leave it. You make it. You set an example for others. Always don’t think negative, I don’t think negative. Oh here live a lot in Palenstein, here live a lot of criminals. No, they don’t. No, I don’t. Never mind criminals. To their own ends. And you make an example for yourself to look at other people. Yeah, who are you? And don’t say, oh, this is criminal neighborhoods, everybody’s criminal. No, not everyone can be a criminal.
[i] Do you like your neighborhood? In the neighborhood where you live. Is it safe? How do you actually feel here?
Yeah. Then we came here, a lot of people say this is that Palenstein neighborhood. That’s a very criminal neighborhood. A lot of Antilleans, a lot of Arubans, a lot, yeah, thieves people. Who live like this and like this. Then I still live here, I don’t like anything, yeah, all good. This depends on the person. How are you going to react? Yeah. Never mind, as a criminal, there are criminals, police. You’re not the police. You have to deal with your own things. I’ll be right there. I don’t care. If I am. What I need to feel for myself here. That’s what I do for myself. Not for others. Because no one interferes here, no one interferes with me. So I go to work and I go to sports. That’s just… Every time maybe 6, 7 or 8 times a day, I go, I come home and I come out. Cause… I’m a taxi driver, I have a certain program. I go to work and I come home and back to work every day. That company car is at my house. And I just use it for work. And also when I go to sports and groceries. Every time I have to go downstairs and then I come upstairs. Nobody’s gonna interfere with me here. Nobody!
Haven’t you had any experiences… Bad experiences in the neighborhood?
No, no, no. I never found those people bothering me. No, they didn’t.
[i] Not bothered, not burgled?
Yeah, it happened here, with other neighbors. But not with me, fortunately. Burglary and robbery, it’ll come… …it will. Yeah. If it does, what can you do?
Yeah. You tell a very fascinating and interesting story, I must say. Because, I know a lot of people are actually dissatisfied with life in Holland. Because they can’t adapt, they can… They have culture shock or yes, the upbringing is not going well. Maybe you can tell me more, because you have four children, you told me. How’s parenting going? How do you do that, different or?
Yeah, but. I just told you. This depends on person. . . Yeah, what’s here? It’s a free country. Nobody’s going to interfere with your religion, your culture, your color. Yeah. People don’t have much time to go to you. I’m like a Muslim, I’m happy. I can go to mosque, pray. That’s, doesn’t matter, I’m going home to pray or I’m going to mosque. If I’m going to celebrate my own cultural days, we’ll have Sugar Festival or other parties. That’s what we do. Nobody’s gonna stand up to us and say, “Why do you do that?” Why then, I have to say yes those people’s culture isn’t good. Every culture, every country has a good culture and also a bad culture. But we don’t have to be people to always look at the negative, you know? Oh that’s, look at the negative culture here. Yeah, that’s better. That’s better. We’re gonna take good culture from this country and mix it with our own good culture. It’s all gonna be good. But don’t think about the negative culture.
[i] Yeah, I’m looking for what you say you’re gonna get the good out of that. But what’s the good stuff? Can you give me an example?
Yeah. Here, you’re… You’re entitled to everything good. You go outside, go shopping. Nobody’s gonna say to you, “Hey, where are you going? What time is this?” Yeah, nobody dares say that to you. That’s good culture. When you go to your own country, you’re in your own country. Everybody thinks that’s your dad, you know. When you go down, “Hey, where are you going? “I’m going to groceries. “What are you going to run errands for? What time is this? This is saying yes all depends on you. How are you gonna pick up the good culture and how are you gonna pick up the good culture and make your own culture mix, you know? And here’s all fine, you get to decide for yourself. You don’t go to criminals, you don’t go to black people, you don’t go to bad things. Nobody’s gonna interfere with you. If you want to, you’re really gonna live like a good person, you’re gonna set an example for other people. Say, those… Everybody doesn’t sit next to you and watch: “oh that boy is a criminal” or why does he go out every time. And one day he goes home ten times and also outside. Nobody stands for that. If someone’s going to investigate, it’s from the police. Nobody’s going to do police work here. And that’s why everybody goes… I’m so happy for that. Every person does their own job. I mean own job. What are you handy, where are you handy? You’re busy out there. If you’re not handy with something, you’re gonna be interfering with other people there. “Hey, that’s the way to do it, that’s the way to do it, no”. Say, buddy, go and work on your own. You don’t have to meddle with me. And here people ain’t gonna get mixed up in all kinds of things. One time with me, one time with others. No, everyone’s doing their own thing. Well, I think that’s really great, you know? That’s why you’re good at living. You have to adjust with people, you know? Adapt, how are you gonna live. How do you… for your life? Like bad people say bad things like you go out and do bad things… little bad things [unintelligible]. Then you’re bad yourself. And it gets worse. That’s what I’m talking about. Our kids go to work or school, too. They go their own way. Straight to school and come back home. Nobody says to them, “And why do you go to school? That’s why I’m so happy and that’s changed for my life.
That’s a bit of a mentality. Do I get it right? That mentality among Afghans is different from the mentality among the Dutch?
[i] Yes, that’s the only thing that mentality is… Every person has their own mentality. But security in the country is important, you know? That’s what I mean. I don’t go behind the mentality. But I’m going after security right now. Mentality that’s you, that’s with you. You can always use it. But if I don’t have security, that never happened. Here you can live peacefully. Go on. It’s all safe here, if you go out at night or during the day, no matter when. So your safety. That’s why everyone does their own job, in their own way. Police sit or staff or supermarkets, everyone, person carries on with their own tasks.
Could you please give me another example? You mentioned that you live here safely, that nobody interferes with you. But what else do you do? How do you look at your life, for example when you were in Afghanistan? What do you see when you look at yourself?
Look at yourself? I understand what you mean. Cause it’s kind of a messy life there, you know, in Afghanistan. It’s always so messy in the war, you know? Their being… Don’t know exactly when I’m gonna die. And they can’t make a good program for everyday life. So they can’t make a schedule for a day, a week or a month. Say those days I do that and those days do this. That’s completely impossible there. And here you can make your own [unintelligible] program for ten years, for five years.
[i] For your own life.
For your own life. Say schedule here, say, this month I do this, this month I do this. This just goes on and on. All that’s important is security. If I have security, you can live very well. Other side schedule for your life. For example, if I have a lot of busy life. I’m busy with work, I’m busy with sports, I’m busy with hobbies. For example, I have a small piece of land… As a garden, you know. When I go to work, when I come back, I have time right away, I go to the garden. Kind of hobbies. It’s not meant to be, we’re going to do something for business. No, but that’s hobbies. When I go to the garden, I get so happy. My life is gonna change. I’m gonna sit there, seeds, vegetables, you know? When I see it grow, it makes me so happy. And people have never thought about hobbies like that.
[i] You mean Afghanistan?
In Afghanistan… Yeah, in my own country. I always talk about my own country and here in Holland. Between two countries. Here I go to give seeds, vegetables and always water and watch every day… See how those vegetables grow. For me, I’m always happy when I see. I’m going to look at zucchini, paprika, pepper, lettuce, cucumber. All kinds of vegetables you can get here, you know? You can saddle it yourself and it grows and you can… So very tasty! If you ever had time, we can go together and you can see how I did at the garden.
I’d love to.
[r] That’s just sometimes, like now Ramadan. Around a quarter past ten you have to fast, ready and then you pray until half past ten you’re busy. Yeah, but anyway, I often… When I get off work at five o’clock, I go straight to the garden. Or water or bring vegetables. I’ll do that in a minute. So it’s kind of a hobby. For me, it’s kind of like a super hobby with that garden. I’m working on this, yeah.
[i] Are you doing anything with that harvest? It’s for my own use, I understand. But is there anything left, I guess, or not?
Yes, it is. We often make neighbors happy. We make neighbors happy. Because you can’t eat it all by yourself. Sharing for the neighbors, you know? In our culture, if you have an acquaintance, I have knowledge of Dutch people, foreigners, everything, my own compatriots, I’m going to share, you know. What do you do for extra. I say that’s a hobby, that’s not business. If I have more, I can give to the neighbors, acquaintances. I always do. Yeah, ’cause I think someday you’ll go to that garden, you’ll have time, you can go with me there and I’ll show you how I’m gonna build that garden. What I’ve done with my garden. What I’m doing.
[i] Fantastic. I’m curious to see how you’re doing with your upbringing, aren’t you? Because, it’s a different society with different values, freedom out there. And you’re a believer too, I understand. How did you do that? Yeah, when they say free country. That means everyone has the right to their own life, in their own way. Nobody’s going to interfere with your faith. I don’t care about that. I say in every country you have good people and bad people too. I don’t always go after the bad people. This is bad. I have a problem with that one. Yeah, yeah. I’m making my life free for myself. I see with the positive eyes. Not with the negative eyes. Yeah, yeah. What’s the other one doing? Let’s do it. That’s their problem. If I do… I’m a religious person myself. Yeah, I’m Muslims and I do everything for myself. Yeah. Never in Holland, come knocking behind my door [knocking]: ‘Hey, neighbor, why are you going to the mosque? Why are you going in the holidays, are you gonna walk like that?’. Nobody came to my door to clap [knocking] and say, “What are you doing? Yeah, yeah. That’s for me to decide. If I decide, I’m always gonna look at the positive things. Here, what do you do, but look between a… What do you call that? Don’t make the other abuse, you know? Life for you is all kinds of things ready. You can have your own place for those alive. Like is good or is bad. It’s up to you. If here has… For example, tips and penance. If you do a good job, that’s reward, tip. If you do bad things, you get fined. That’s right. You’re always trying to do good things, not bad ones. I’m very happy here with all kinds of people, from all kinds of countries, you know? I just… I go with a lot of people now, other foreigners, you know? Like Surinamese, Antillean, Curaçao, Turkish, Moroccan, Russian, Polish. Lots of people. Just friendly. I’m gonna go with them a couple of times, what can I take? All good things. For example, I can also talk Russian to Russian people. I can do a little Arabic, Urdu, Pashtu, Farsi, English, Dutch. I can interact with anyone. That’s just, you have to take it yourself. The good life and the good way doesn’t come to you. “I’m here, come and get me. It’s up to you. You live for yourself. If you live for yourself, you don’t get involved with other people. What do you live and go to the neighbors? “Hey neighbor, you have to live like this. Here in the Netherlands nobody does it like this.
Do you do more in the community? You say, you’re going to get in touch. You get in contact with all kinds of people of foreign origin. But apart from that, do you do anything with them? Organizing all kinds of projects, community activities…
Yeah, community activities. I used to be, but I am still busy with a lot of projects, that give for the municipality or for gyms. For example last year or a year at that King’s Day. I had given boxing lessons for the schoolchildren myself. That King’s Day, that’s what I did. You know the difference. A lot of people don’t know the difference. Everybody calls it Queen’s Day.
[r] Yeah. Now it’s Queen’s Day. Yeah, because that’s exactly what I did on Queen’s Day and on other days… Sports days, you know, sports days. I do sports, too. I have boxing apprentices here. I learned to box for them, didn’t I? That’s the program I’m going to call them. And we’re going to make a program like boxing. People watch boxing training. One more thing I’m doing here… Only, I’m still working on, Look, this is my own project. I got for that sports coach in Zoetermeer, I got… He’s also a good friend of mine. I’ve been in touch. I just want to make a project here in Zoetermeer. That’s my own idea. Bring those street kids to that gym. Bring street kids to sports and give them boxing lessons. I’m also thinking maybe this year… Yeah, I have a guy, he’s a sports manager…
[i] What’s his name?
[r] [name] As a sports manager. I did get an e-mail from him.
From the municipality?
Yes, from the municipality. We’re trying to do that [unintelligible]… We are… We’re going to ask the people together. How do you do? Cause they, council also agree with me to be able to make such a project and bring those street kids to the sport. So I think it’s better. Those kids go outside annoying often. And they come to athletes. Sports only way, those people can live a lot well. They don’t go to drugs, they don’t go to black stuff, and they don’t go to nasty jobs. When you’re into sports, believe me, you like a lot of bad things…
Crime, everything. Yeah, I’d like that. That’s my hope, too. I can do it here. Yeah, little problem for me is, I’ve done a lot of sports from little to older. I’ve done everything. I’ve been a youth team, a national team, a sports coach, a boxing coach. But here’s the problem. Must have that Dutch paper, you know?
[i] Grant?
[r] No. Dutch paper boxing coach.
I’m still working on this one here… in order to be able to get Dutch… what’s that called?
[r] Diploma as a boxing coach. I’m still working on it… I’ve also explained with the municipality, if I can maybe start next year with this training as a boxing trainer. Different than in my own country. There’s a lot to do here. Until they get that diploma. But is, practically is not a problem, because all my life I’m busy with sports, boxing. Now I’m busy too. That’s my hope and dream. If I can get that boxing coach diploma as a Dutch trainer, yes, I’m still busy. Absolutely. I’m going for it. I’m not gonna stay. It’s enough, but I’m going for it.
[i] If I look at it this way, you have of course done a lot of things in the past, contributed to society by getting in touch with people, by learning language, by giving children a good upbringing and education. And I see that you are also preparing all kinds of projects. For example, there is a project to take those hanging youngsters off the street. What the… That’s all very nice, very much in itself. But see other things you think you have… contributed to society, to the city, to Zoetermeer? Except the boxing project. Do you do anything, anything else?
No. Actually, that’s too much. I’m into work, sports and hobbies. Yeah, it’s, sport’s my hobbies too, but sport is my life. I can’t do without sports. Gardening is also a small hobby. When I do it, it makes me very happy. But yes, sometimes I do like this. I love running, you know. I have a couple of boxing students in Zoetermeer, sometimes I make an appointment with them and we go for a run. But I often run twice or three times a week myself. Yeah. Starting with… Actually I myself can run up to 20, 22 or 24 kilometres because of my condition. But right now I’m running up to 10 kilometers. Twice or three times a week. So, so I find a kind of hobby, I can’t, you know. That’s also when somebody’s gonna say, like, “Are you crazy? “What are you doing? Twelve o’clock at night I’m going for a run. Once in a while, sometimes, often when I go to mosque after the tarabi. Tarabi finish at noon. I finish running too. When I am ready for mosque, I just go in the evening, I also go running. Say, ‘[name], what are you doing?’ I’ve got a lot of acquaintances here. Afghan people say, “What are you doing? I say, “Yeah, I can’t sleep. If I run for a while and then I go to sleep. I do the same thing with running.
[i] You go to mosque as a believer. And do you still do activities in there at the mosque?
[r] No. That’s just this mosque for praying. Those people who go there… Actually, that’s open. I say this is a free country. No one’s interfering with your religion or your beliefs. So mosque’s just open. Five times a day you can go there and pray. But me, often pray there on Fridays. And tarabi too, you know? Now ramadan, you can have tarabi. Tarabi’s late. And there I go.
[i] Tarabi. Namaze tarabi.
That’s for ramadan, only 30 days of ramadan this happens. People can pray extra. Except pray five times a day, this is pray of [unintelligible] extra pray ramadan. That’s how we do it. That’s why I say I’m glad. Many people meddle with themselves, say yes, these are either Dutch or foreigners. That’s not really the case. I think what are you, that’s what you hear. If you go, other people say: ‘Hey, Dutchmen, where are you going, what are you doing’. Sure, believe me, those other people will also come next to you and say: ‘Hey Muslim, what are you doing?’. And they’re also going to use other bad words about you. That’s why they say: here’s what you can do, that’s allowed. Yeah. But aren’t you going to go any further for… your neighbors or your neighborhood or your neighborhood kind of damage, you know? Don’t think like that. Do damage to the others. Nobody’s gonna hurt you. Just that’s… It’s you. To watch as they think, free land, we’re gonna use free land. How are we gonna do it? It’s up to you. The way of using free life or free land, you have to understand that. I’m not going to say: “I never get into trouble with the people here, with foreigners or Dutch or… … all kinds of people live here in the Netherlands. You never get in trouble. I’m just saying I’m gonna go out in the street at half past one, after praying, I’m gonna run. Nobody says, “Hey, what are you doing, why?”. That why doesn’t exist here. If making why means arguing. That’s our own expression, Afghan expression. Why, why means fight.
[i] Can you say in Afghan what that sounds like?
[r] ‘ Chro’. Why that means “chro”. And why has no end answer. Every answer after the end of an answer you get again why. You say I finished that school, you say why. Yeah. I did for this… to do this. Then you ask why. That means end comes end comes end comes end, huh. Are you always going to make why. Shouldn’t always think why.
[i] ‘Chro yone jang’ [Why means fight]. That’s right.
[r] End of why is arguing. That’s my life. I’m gonna go on like this. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I wonder if peace will come to my own country. People can live so free. And they can live safely. That’s the hardest part. I find them very difficult for the people have no security. Without security you can never live well. Because you get a lot of stress. We Afghan people are stressed anyway. They can’t take it away from our blood.
[i] What do you mean by stress? Yeah. Cause we always think… like you’re here, we’re not gonna think about ourselves. We think there too. Our family, our countrymen. A lot of Afghan people live there. But without security. We think there too. I am such a person. I’m not going to say if I’m safe here, but everyone there is going to die or be unsafe. I don’t care. That’s why I say I’m still under stress. I want my country and my countrymen to live safely in my own country. That fight has to go, that war has to go, that gun has to go. The people’s problem is gun. Only way if that weapon goes all the way away from Earth, then people can live a little bit safely. Here before, if problems you can explain with your mouth and solve these problems. But now if you have a little bit of a problem, it’s going to answer with the weapon. Because so many weapons, that weapon is going to destroy the people of Earth. That’s people’s problem to not be able to live safely anywhere.
Do you still see a role in that as far as your homeland is concerned? You worry about that, but do you also see your role in it to change that, to try to change it?
[r] Yes, of course. Of course. I am, stands for… I say, uh, anywhere if no bad and no good, they always stay side by side. Those good people, those smart people, always thinking something good, bringing good thinking into action. Bringing action. For example, we have a lot of problems with people. Some big cities in Afghanistan are 21 times bigger than the Netherlands. And that’s not more than 30 million inhabitants. And maybe 18 or 17 million people live here. And with such a large country, over 30 million people live here, but unsafe. I take care of that how can you bring security there too. Those other people can also live safely. Never had to hear the news of the war. If you look at the media like that, every day, every hour a new broadcast of Afghanistan, say: yes, there has been suicide, there has been an explosion, a roadside weapon or this kind of thing. You always get stress. Where were you born you’re never going to forget. You’ll always be there. Half your life, beats there too, yeah? I mean, I’m still standing there. I’ll take care of… I’ll see how I can help a little bit with the people there, with the countrymen or with my own country. How’s that? Yeah, first important one there I can bring security. With security you can bring in a lot of big projects there. Then you can do a lot of things. You can’t do without security. Now the majority of people in Afghanistan have guns. What happens to those guns? So many guns. Unsafe brings. That’s why I always think like this, how can I clean up that gun from those people. They can’t, uh… Ordinary civilians are dying. Citizens are citizens, our good people.
You say, “I’m sorry to interrupt,” you say… You’re thinking how to get rid of those guns.
Have you done any concrete things with that? Concrete proposals or approaches to people or… It’s an idea or is it more than that?
No, that’s my idea, because that’s my dream, too. Let’s stop that arms dealer from selling guns. That’s some kind of business, too. If they have anything to make, have to sell. Use it where? Can’t sell that gun in Holland for water. Say yes, there are five thousand or eight thousand people living in Zoetermeer, for example, and leave only ten thousand guns here, say, eight thousand people. No, two thousand should be kept. For extra and you can’t, you know? That’s why that gun always brings unsafe. People can’t live safely. That’s my dream. If they can ever take that gun away from Afghanistan. What’s in Afghanistan now? Believe me, if those guns clean up, how many roadside guns are on the ground in Afghanistan. If 30 million people live in Afghanistan, 60 million roadside weapons are on the ground. For one person two roadside guns are on the ground. That’s all because of the war…
land mines.
Landmines, yes. You often just see that away. Those people go down a street once in a while. That mine exploded. You see people get killed or hurt by these things. Still unsafe. I want to get them off the ground, too. Unnecessary. It’s all unnecessary. It is now. We’re not going to prepare weapons to fight with the other countries. Now is just the 21st century. We have to use our brains, talk orally, not with the weapon. We’re human beings. That’s why I’m always thinking about when in Afghanistan we can take that gun away. Because those people can’t go to school, those people can’t work properly. Unemployed, I think 100% people there are unemployed. Like war, where do you work? No work. Just those people fighting for life, to live too well. The rest is all done in Afghanistan. Everybody say that, that’s it, that’s it. No. Never happened in Afghanistan. In order to stop the guns. Weapon brings bad things all the way. And that’s why I don’t agree with the guns in Afghanistan, because now if looking like a ten-year-old kid, he can handle the gun very well, you know. Kind of a hobby with real guns. And here you can never see guns in the streets. There’s just, everybody’s got guns. How do you… I have an idea myself how to get those guns away from Afghanistan. In Afghanistan security has to come, and those other people can live safely, go to school safely, go safely to their own cultures, with their own beliefs, what do they want to do. They can also make good contact with other countries. That is just my idea. I can’t do anything there myself, but I hope that someday I can go there some kind of thing…
[i] That’s your biggest dream?
Of course it is. Yeah, everyone has a dream that has to do for their own countries. That’s my own dream too. Then I can do a little bit for goods for my own countrymen and countrywomen.
[i] From our project we are looking for people who… contribute to the city where they live. I have heard a lot of things that can of course be seen as a contribution. For example … that you do your job as a trainer, youth trainer, boxing youth trainer, as a taxi driver and used to be a stonemason …
Stonemasonry… Yes, you also raised four wonderful children. You’ve done a lot of things. Is there… Can I take that as a contribution to the city you’ve told me? Is there? Do you see that as a contribution, too?
[r] What do you mean?
[i] You’ve told me about different activities: work, hobby, the sport, the youth coach that you are. Do you see that as a contribution to the city?
[r] Yes, of course. I think contribution is for me if I can relate to the project that brings children from the street to the gym. Yeah, kids from my neighborhood on Zoetermeer Street are walking. Why go to the street? Come in to the gym. If I can get this project ready or join this project. I’ll be very happy. This is a big contribution in my area and also in my municipality, municipality Zoetermeer, that is my … I’ve met a few times at the sports permission of the holder… alderman, I just…
Alderman of?
Van Zoetermeer. For a short time, I was at the sports permission office then, too. He also came to watch. But just I told him I have so many plans, I want to do this and he said: okay if you want you can make me an appointment. But so far I haven’t been able to make the appointment with him, to sit down, yeah. It’s hard here. First you have to bring your own project and paper everything ready and then bring it to alderman or mayor. Then say I’ve got plans. But I can explain everything verbally. For me it’s always oral. I speak up to make it clear, I want to. If you’re going to help me, but so far I haven’t been able to. It hasn’t worked. Yeah, I’m definitely gonna continue this project. And certainly municipality Zoetermeer is also going to help me with this project To bring street children to the gym. I think this is a good program if it works out in Zoetermeer. That’s a contribution. If you ask this is my contribution. If I can bring for my own municipality, and also for the children, the street children. This is contribution.
[i] You said, alderman of the municipality of Zoetermeer. Alderman of sports is that?
[r] No. Every municipality has mayor and also alderman. And alderman also goes like special days. At special then mayor can not, but he can go there see some special program. For example, here is Zoetermeer Days. In this program the people come from the municipality.
Do you know the name, do you remember the name of that alderman?
Sorry, sorry no.
[i] That’s the alderman who’s in charge of sports?
No, Alderman, I say this is about everything. Not just for sports.
[i] So he has a portfolio, too, sports?
[r] No. This goes for the some program in Zoetermeer. It’s aldermen, after the mayor, you know? It doesn’t matter, sports or activities or anything. Yeah, what belongs to Zoetermeer can a person come from the municipality. Like get invitations from these kinds of projects and then come and see them.
[i] So you intend to continue that project… and then when do you expect an appointment to come?
Yes, I don’t know, but first I have to… Yeah, I do have plans with that… person [name]. I’ve explained this to him as well. We’ll go, first I’ll go with him and he also works in town at the sports department, then he’ll make everything ready for me too. And we’ll make an appointment. We’re going to sit down together and we’re also going to talk about this project with alderman or mayor. First I have to make everything ready and with paper. He can’t go there alone without plans and without paper to make an appointment. First say: I have to give everything to them. That is my project, I want to go on like this. They are going to read and then I get advice whether it is allowed or not. They give it to me. But I’m still working on this.
[i] I understand that municipality is very interested in that project. There’s just enthusiasm for it…
I haven’t officially spoken to them about this, yes… But I do have plans to go with the mayor or pass it on to the alderman. Sit down together and with this projects. First I have to get everything ready and bring paper. Write and then they’re gonna read what I have for plans. And then you’ll get advice for them, from their…
[i] And for this you need a boxing coach diploma or other things?
[r] No, actually, boxing coach. You know, officially everything. I have a boxing coach diploma, a Dutch one. I say I’ve seen it with my pictures, all kinds of pictures. I have, I say from youth team to national team also as a boxing trainer I did everything in Afghanistan. But this is where the Dutch has to participate.
[i] And you have that diploma for that job, for that project you’re going to do, you need that diploma too?
[r] I don’t know. I don’t know, actually.
[i] Okay.
[r] I don’t know. Maybe you have ways out, but that’s… I’m a boxing coach myself, you know. I can do anything. For my own experience, 34 years I’ve been boxing and I still am. But the projects continue. I’m gonna explain a little bit and maybe… [Name] He’s with me, too. Might as well go on together. So, I don’t think this is necessary for this project, but if I want to start my own boxing school, own boxing school, then this is necessary. Dutch boxing… from Dutch Boxing Federation, you should have, you know, this diploma. Cause that’s about our own boxing school. But this is… I want to take this project with the municipality, together… That’s asked for municipality.
That’s your plan, too, to set up your own school, boxing school?
Yes, of course. I’ve done a lot for my own boxing school. I did, but together with the other trainer. That didn’t work out. I started here in Zoetermeer at the Kai Sei. I see… He’s… That school is karate. Of karate trains, so Kai Sei, but I talked to him. I’m gonna teach boxing here. Say, yes come and I have a year and a half, or yes … about a year and a half I taught here: boxing class. You’ve seen that picture. This was all those young people here. I was busy with that boy, but in the end, I can’t change my direction with him at all. Because he was all about his own things, not me. Used me as a self-weapon, for himself. I taught boxing, but he writes karate people, you know? And he doesn’t… I’ve been lately, I’m getting angry. I quit with him, because I’ve seen all kinds of sports in Zoetermeer: Karate at Kai Sei, boxing. But who hasn’t changed who’s going to give boxing lessons. He makes everything for himself. I say how is that possible? Yes, you can say that. I didn’t give him any money back then.
[i] You didn’t get a salary?
No, no money for this training. I did a year and a half. I mean, if I could get that boxing diploma through this school, you know? To get for those courses, but I can’t. That’s why I stopped training altogether. That was a problem. Cause I know here in Zoetermeer you can go with a lot of young people going to sports. But I stopped myself, in order not to be able to continue with these rights. I have seen for Zoetermeer’s annual newspaper, every year start the schedule of Zoetermeer’s sports activities. State at Kai Sei, state karate, judo, boxing. Who gives the judo lessons, who gives the karate lessons? But, the boxing stands the times, but not by whom. I also wanted to say please give me name. Who gives the boxing lesson? [name] I think that was kind of… What do you call that? That extra money comes from the boxing that goes with their business. And having that, not being with me. Yeah, I think that’s, uh… all for nothing. Then why do I have to keep going? I quit after a year and a half. A lot of these young people… I gave the lessons for them. They were totally sad. [Name] why, but and say, “Yeah, he’s right, too. Until when?” Yeah, that’s just it. That’s why I’d like to have a Dutch boxing diploma if I can and start my own boxing school. Then what I want, because I’m a Russian boxer myself. All my technique is Russian. In Afghanistan, we were in Afghanistan…
[i] Yeah, tell you something about that?
[r] Head coach, national trainer is Russian. And Afghanistan’s technique and tactics of boxing are all Russian. That’s the best technique and tactics of Russia, the boxing. I was raised in Russian training myself. I can go ahead with my own schedule, my own plans. But here’s different. And then if I have my own boxing school, I can start for myself. And what I want to teach. How I’m going to teach. Then I’ll go on. Here sometimes like you’re gonna teach somewhere that looks at you. And who’s gonna pick up, the rest is gonna say, “I’m doing this. For me, it makes me so sad. Always saying, “Yeah, why are you doing this? And don’t say this is from [name]’. Starting to use them for their own purposes. The same, that’s for me. Taking it like making Photoshop and using it for yourself. Therefore, I hope one day I can build my own boxing school here in Holland.
[i] [Name], we’ll be right at the end of the interview. You have of course told some very interesting stories. Do you have anything to add or do you think you’ve told it all?
[r] No. Actually, I told you everything. Yes, you did. If you sit with me, it doesn’t matter an hour or a day, I can tell you everything about my daily life. My daily life majority is about sports, you know? Because I’ve been through sports all my life. I say, when I was very young, ten years. So far, you know, my eldest son is 22 and I’m still working on this. That, this kind of, like, fixed hobbies for me. This is in my blood. I can’t take this away. How long are you gonna talk about sports, us here. It doesn’t matter to me. I know a lot about all kinds of sports… I’ve also… My specialty is boxing, but besides boxing I’ve done kung fu, played soccer, volleyball, table tennis, er… Yeah, fitness’s less, but besides you I’ve been through everything. For fitness, for everything. I’ve worked a little bit for all the sports, but here’s some person… I feel myself. I know a lot of stars, from Dutch stars of all kinds of sports: football, hockey, boxing, freefighting, kickboxing, hockey… Yes, because if you ask me what do you watch TV? I sometimes say a little bit of news and then… I don’t like movies, I like watching all the sports programs. Everything, so… I see which channel is sports program. Then I’m gonna watch it. But in the old days… I know a lot of people from boxing, kickboxing, soccer… Yeah, what’s it called? Because I see every day in this program of sports. Yeah, ’cause I say if you talk to the sports that long, I can keep going. What questions do you have, if I can, I can answer you. You can. It’s in my blood, sport. How are you gonna ask, I’m gonna answer with this sport. Because, I think all sport is sport. Doesn’t matter. Table tennis players, like freefighters, like boxing, like soccer, like sport. That sport gives you a whole different life. A lot of people think negative, but come to sports always think positive. I say, if you have positive and negative, that’s part of you. What are you going to think? Are you going to think negative or positive? If you come for example, I have this funny somewhere in Afghanistan, I was teaching a boy came to me. Who… like register, say, yes, I want to box. I say, okay boxing. Yeah, boxing’s okay. I say I’m a trainer of boxing, I’m gonna teach you. What I’m saying is, you have to do it like this and then you can learn well. And then right away he asks me, “Master, master?”, I say, “Yes?”. “I’ve learned boxing, can fight how many people?”. I say to him, “Boy, get your stuff and get out of here. So, I’m not teaching you as a street fighter. Boxing is hobbies, it’s sports. So come on in here and don’t think negatively. He was always thinking for the negative. If I learn boxing, I can fight with how many people, street fighting. I say, “No. I don’t learn for street fighters. For the people who want to learn boxing before the matches. I’ll never forget it. I say if you come here to learn boxing, you have to respect each other. And learn how to respect other people. You’re not gonna be a street fighter. Just people like think negatively, they fight their way out on the streets and they fight and fight with people. Can’t make you equal with the sports. With sports you can go very high. You have to respect yourself. If you have respect for others, you also get respect. That’s just my idea and my goal. I teach people boxing, as if they’re going to learn boxing. Don’t become a street fighter. That’s why I say those people bring in the gymnasium. That’s just gotta do it. That was… Is my story. If… That was your intent to hear from me. That’s just my story.
[i] No. That’s a great story. Gripping story. With a lot of passion. Your life is actually boxing, sport. In special boxing. I enjoyed your story. Thank you very much.
[r] Thank you from you.
[i] The interview is closed.
[r] I think that’s my contribution, too.
[i] Yes, it is. Thank you very much.