[i] Good evening sir. [name] Welcome to our Oral inter… history interview. I’d like to ask you to introduce yourself.
[r] Okay. I’m [name]. I’m 53 years old. I’m married, I have two children. A son of 22 and daughter of 19. I’m from Afghanistan. And I’ve lived in Holland for almost 16 years. I’m a doctor. I used to be a surgeon in Afghanistan, where I’m from. But I’ve been a GP in the Netherlands for more than six years. That’s short, what I wanted to say. I come from a large family, with 4 brothers and 3 sisters. From a highly educated family. My father was high director of a large company in Afghanistan. Graduated from America.
[i] Which company sorry?
[r] It’s some kind of American company in Afghanistan. It worked there for a lot of years, so yeah. I was born and raised in the province of Afghanistan, from southern Afghanistan. Lashkar Gah Province, Helmand. Near Kandahar, Kandahar Province. So that’s where I was born and raised and I’m originally from Laghman. It’s also another province of Afghanistan.
[i] Your parents are from Laghman?
[r] Sorry? Yeah. Yeah, my parents are from Laghman. It’s close to Pakistan. So it’s a province close to Pakistan. But I was born and raised in Helmand. That’s another province in Afghanistan. When my dad worked there as a director of a big company. So I was born and raised there, graduated.
[i] Until?
[r] Then I moved to Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, to study medicine. And I studied medicine in Afghanistan, Kabul.
How old were you then?
[r] When I started, with my studies, I was 18 years old. That’s when I started studying medicine. It’s Medicine University of Kabul, Afghanistan, Medicine. Then I finished. I did military service for 1 year. And then I started training to be a general surgeon. And that study lasted about 5 years. Then I became a surgeon in Afghanistan. And I worked as a surgeon in Afghanistan for a few years too. And then because of, yes, circumstances I fled to the Netherlands. And when I came to the Netherlands was very different situation.
I’m sorry, what circumstances do you mean?
[r] Yeah, so, yeah, security situation. Then Afghanistan was not safe for me and for my children. It’s a very big story. If I…
[i] When was that?
[r] That was in 1997 until ’98. That’s when the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan. That’s a very big story, too. Then another government came after the Najibullah. Then came the Mojaheddin, then Mojaheddin. And then there was a kind, a civil war between the groups and it lasted three, four years. Then I was working in very bad conditions in Afghanistan as a surgeon. Is very bad conditions. When I worked as a surgeon in Afghanistan, there were 300 surgeons for almost 20 million people. I worked in very bad security conditions as a surgeon for a few years. A lot of wars, surgeries or wars…
that was in Kabul or?
[r] In Kabul, capital of Afghanistan. That’s where I worked as a surgeon. And that period lasted about a few years.
Which hospital was it in?
[r] That was in the Academic Hospital in Afghanistan, in Kabul. That’s ALIABAD University Hospital, ALIABAD. And then there was civil, a civil war between groups [unclear] a group in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan. And that lasted about a few years. And then Taliban came to power. That’s a different kind, yeah, fundamentalist group. And then I was also working, for a few years, during the Taliban. And then the situation was so bad, I couldn’t live, I couldn’t function. So it wasn’t safe for my children and my wife either. Yeah, my wife was also a dentist in Afghanistan. So she was not allowed to treat male patients. And yes, that was not a problem, there were enough female patients. But yes, that’s a very big story.
[i] Yeah, we’re not gonna talk about that either.
[r] Yeah, but, yeah.
[i] I’d like to go back to your childhood. You said you were born into a big, pretty big family. How was that? Which one? What kind of house did you live in?
[r] I lived in very nice Helmand province. So that was a big business of America back then. United status, states, United States. So was a project of, of United States in Afghanistan. And then my father was working on that project. They built land and they made that, that saline land was some kind of agriculture. Agricultural sector.
Some kind of agricultural project.
[r] Project. And also a lot of those projects of electricity to produce in Afghanistan, in that province of Helmand. Then nearly 2000 Americans were working in Af… in that province. And my father worked at that company, that big company. And, yes, then I was born in that province. And also was, that’s where I studied. Big family so, yes 5 brothers and 3 sisters, yes.
[i] You were the, you’re the oldest?
[r] One after the eldest. My sister is older than me. And I’m the second member of, yeah, second child of the family. And I have 3, 2 sisters and 4 brothers. So 5 brothers and 3 sisters total.
[i] How did it go between you guys?
Yeah, pretty good, yeah. So yeah, that’s kind of tradition in Afgha… just everywhere. That when I was little I had a fight with my oldest sister and my youngest brother. So in a way, yeah. Was kind of love. That was good, yeah. So big, house was big, too. We just had a really big house so. That, my dad’s economic situation was very good, so…
[i] Financial situation?
Financial, financial situation was good. My dad’s entry was good. So, we were pretty, pretty rich family in Afghanistan. The difference between rich and poor was big. But then the security situation was good, yeah. Pretty good. Yeah good, yeah pretty good, not very good. During that King Zahir Shah, and then came Daoed Khan, was president, first president of Afghanistan. We had a kingdom in Afghanistan, and then King Zahir Shah’s nephew came to power with the help of the coup. And he was in power for five years as the first president of Afghanistan. And then security was very good. Economy was pretty good, but situation was good, security in particular. And Afghanistan was a modern country then. Yeah, the difference between rich and poor was, yeah, big. But still, it was safe. And then that communist government came to power. With the help of Russia.
[i] Yeah, yeah.
[r] And those…
[i] May I interrupt you again, please? You said you had a big family. Do you remember when you were a kid? Remember what? A moment when you…
[r] Yes, that was very nice time, very nice time. We had very social contact with the neighbors, for example, with children, other children. All we thought about was, just a good life.
Did you have a place that always stays in your memory? A place, a place?
Yeah, I was a good soccer player back then. Almost everyone knew me in that county. When I was little, I played very well. Yeah, me, I was always a football player. So that was good memories. So everybody knew me. When I went to that town, everybody says to me, “Name’s a good soccer player. Was, people were interested in football in Afghanistan back then. A lot of interest. Yeah, that was always memories of my childhood. I also think that… But we weren’t thinking politics at the time, anything else. But only life, good life. And social life was also very good back then. So a lot of contact with neighbors, with friends. Yeah, that was social life, yeah.
You said you liked playing soccer. Still loves it, I guess. How far were you kicked in, in that…
In football, yeah. I went very far. I was on the county team at the time. Or, or team. And then I was a member of the Afghan Army, that’s national, and then I was a member of the Afghan team for a year or two. Then I also traveled to Russia, especially Tajikistan, Uzbekistan to play soccer. Couple of times I went. A few times to play soccer. The level was not comparable, but still I was a member of the Afghan team. I was a defender, so yes. So I also had a spot in Afghan soccer, yeah. So I was always very active, an active boy during my youth very active soccer. I was also first in my class. So I always got good grades. Top of the class I was. And top of football was me. So that was because I was really active. I was always doing something. And that’s why I can still work as a doctor in the Netherlands. So, I started from scratch a few times in my life, a few times. So when I tell stories, I started from scratch 3 times.
[i] Three times from scratch?
[r] For example, all over and again
Tell me about it.
[r] For example, I got my degree once, and then I specialize in surgery. Then I was a surgeon. When I came to Holland, I was, yes, a third-year student of medicine. Studied again. Basic diploma, then specialization in GP. So that started almost from scratch twice. Also, life, yeah. Everything broke down 2, 3 times. For example, when I… Then, at the time, I had almost everything. House in Kabul for example. And I was already a surgeon. Then war broke everything down, didn’t it? So I had nothing. That’s when I started buying everything from now on. Work hard to earn something to build a house here. So second time. So then I fled to Holland, I was, I had nothing. Not a penny, when I came to Holland I just had 200 dollars.
[i] When was that when you came to Holland?
That’s ’98, 1998.
[i] What month was it about?
[r] Sorry?
[i] When was it, what month was it?
[r] It was September.
[i] September 1998.
[r] I came to Holland. Then I had 200 dollars, nothing. So that’s when everything broke down. The property, everything gone. That’s when I started studying again. When I started I was 37 years old. And I was with students 20 years old, for example.
How was that?
Yeah, that was spicy. Difficult yes, very difficult. Look, then those 20-year-old boys and girls said, “Yeah, that one, that old fellow, old classmate, old gentleman to me. Then they thought I was that professor, yeah. When I came to class, they thought I was that professor. They looked at me and said: no, I’m not a professor, I’m also a student. So that was, my language’s not so good either. I couldn’t communicate that well with the, with students, fellow students, for example. Yeah, that was a difficult time. But, but before, I had the ability. So, I didn’t accept defeat. So I moved on, moved on, yeah. That was a difficult time. Yeah, in terms of language, culture, background, I lost everything. Then I came back into this, second language, I was 37 years old. Yeah look, you can master a language well if you start at 20 or 18. But when you’re 37 years old, yes, that’s very difficult to master language perfectly. That’s, that’s not so easy, yeah. And if you want to work in the Netherlands as a high function, you just have to speak at a high level. And medicine is, was. So I had the problem, and still when I speak with foreign language all day, I’m so tired. So if the interview was in the morning, I’d just speak better now. That, that’s a difference. Feel yeah. Because that language doesn’t come automatically, yeah. We just have to make a sentence and then say. And that takes a lot of energy. And when it’s speaking foreign language all day, second language, then you get really tired. And yeah, that one, that one, our job is family medicine is also communication. So all day long you just have to speak and speak and speak and then in the evening you get so tired that you no longer have energy to speak. So yeah, well, I’m used to that.
[i] You said you had, yes, language problems. But also cultural problems. What, what was that?
[r] Yeah, sure, Holland is very different culture. Different system, different climate, different language. You have to accept that, for example, so culture is very different. You have in the Netherlands, you just live at a high level. So for a high level you just have to work hard. So you have little time for social life for example. But is the other way around in Afghanistan for example. In Afghanistan, for example, you don’t have such a high level in terms of life. Level, how can I, level I can’t say. That facilities in Afghanistan are less than in the Netherlands, yes.
[i] Well-being
[r] Well-being, yes. Prosperity, for example. Prosperity, yes. So prosperity in terms of level of prosperity, very different. So people don’t have to work so hard and some, uh, yeah. So if, if you don’t have to work hard. So you have more time for social life, so that’s 1. So stress, yes, so Dutch in itself, I guess, because you have to work hard that is also a stressful… Yeah, at least for us. I don’t know what the Dutch are like but I feel like I have to work hard here and with stress, tensions. I feel something different here, as a comparison with my own country. This kind of thing, is differences.
[i] But how has it worked so far? Dealing with cultural differences and stress, for example. How do you actually do that?
[r] Yes, look, as a human being, you just have to adapt all the time. Otherwise you can’t go any further, yes. Must adapt. For example, culture is not a big problem. But I said, that’s different culture, you just have a little problem with that. But that can’t function, can’t go on living, that’s, that’s not so. I can just live with, that’s Dutch, multicultural country. So, that sentence doesn’t have that much trouble, not that much of a problem. But still, small problems, yes. For example, culture, climate just has to adapt. That takes a lot of energy and time. When I came I had some more problems. But now a big part is being solved. But that still remains, yes. For some simple things that can’t be accepted, for example, yes. As a senior official, I’m a doctor.
[i] What can’t you accept?
[r] For example, yes. Some simple things. That takes time, so yes. And your background is that children always have to get permission from you to go outside, to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, yes this kind of thing huh. That’s a little hard, trouble, yeah. So, uh…
[i] Raising the kids.
Raising the kids. For example, an 18-year-old child is simple. Yeah, must have a friend. But we’re not ready to accept, for example. So if my daughter of 19 has a boyfriend, yes, I won’t accept that. Saying should just get married first and then, then dealing with a boy. While Dutch is very different, yes. You just have to get to know a boy or a girl first and then get married. These things, simple things. But that’s in our background and our culture, yes. And that can’t change that easily. This sort of thing, for example. Anyway, I work with people, so I always say give advice. But I have a little bit of a problem with that. These things, simple things.
And how do your kids react to that, that you have trouble with that?
Yeah, kids have problems, too. Children are also between two cultures. For example, they also have an Afghan background, for example living with us, with family, for example. They also learn from our culture. And outside is with the Dutch, yes. So they’re a little bit between two cultures, yes. They have a little bit of trouble. That’s not an ordinary, is an obstacle. It’s not. That it’s an obstacle. But still, yeah, trouble. Sometimes, yeah, I get conflicts, a little bit of conflicts, but not always, yeah. But that’s the problem with refugees, yeah. That the first generation in particular always has a little bit of trouble, and the second generation gets a little easier, and third and fourth generation is accepted. or functions as real, real Dutchmen, yes. Well, my children don’t have that much trouble not finding problems in terms of language, communication, for example. When I came, my son was 6 years old and my daughter 3 years old. In that sense they don’t have a problem with language, culture a little bit maybe. Anyway, the problems yes. Not really that obstacle.
[i] You came to Holland in ’98. When did you get your residence permit?
[r] Yeah, my story was clear before, at the time. So I’m, I got a residence permit in 2 years. In 2000, I got a residence permit for an indefinite period. Within 5 years I got Dutch nationality. So I didn’t have that many problems with my residence permit. Luckily. And also study took about 2 years, that Dutch language. And…
[i] And what do you mean by study? What study?
[r] Dutch language 2 years. And the, I supported, financed by UAF the foundation.
[i] What is UAF?
[r] UAF is a foundation that helped, still helps, those foreign students, highly educated people to get the job. To study again, yes. So, so I was supported by UAF and that program actually lasted 2.5 years. Then I finished in time. So, in that sense, that program for basic physician. For foreign doctors took 2.5 years. And then I finished after two and a half years with a degree in basic medicine. And 2005 I started training to become a general practitioner. It took 2, 3 years. And since 2009 I work as a general practitioner.
[i] And general practitioner, you said general practitioner. Is that what you always wanted or did you want to become a surgeon like you were?
[r] Yeah, sure, yeah, sure. As a surgeon, you’re just practical, you’re practically hands-on, you’re also knowledgeable. But that doctor’s very different, yeah. You can’t compare to surgery. As a GP, you’re communicative. A lot of communication, social problems, also medicine. So very different. A little bit of surgery, but not really that you can work as a surgeon. Surgery is very different. I wanted to be a surgeon too, but okay.
[i] You say, you wanted to be a surgeon?
Yeah, I wanted to be a surgeon, little bit difficult. Yeah, I had to… I didn’t get a dispensation to train in surgery. I had to do 5, 6 years of training. And also I had to work very hard as an assistant surgeon. Have to work very hard. So long days. Then I had no interest and no desire to work so hard and study for so long. Because I was already a surgeon, I didn’t have to do the surgery training again, so yes, I didn’t want to. Also in terms of age, yes. So that also played a role. Studying surgery took 5, 6 years in the Netherlands. So then I couldn’t easily find a place because I was too old for a place. They just want to educate the young people. In that sense it was a little bit difficult, so I, I’ve been thinking is good, if I can keep the me white coat it doesn’t matter if doctor or surgeon or… That’s why I didn’t… That,yeah,I’m just a doctor.
[i] Does that bother you a little bit that you didn’t get in?
Look, trouble, yeah. So when I tell stories, little bit I tell my stories. Couple of times, yeah, I quit, I started from scratch, yeah. Couple of times in my life. So yeah, this kind of thing that’s not that much of a problem for me, so yeah. As a surgeon or a doctor, yeah. If you’ve had a problem once in your life, that’s very different. So our stories of refugees are full of events, with problems, with defeat, with a lot of things. So I guess that’s not such a big problem for me. We’ve been through a lot, so that’s a little problem surgeon or doctor, it doesn’t really matter. But I’ve worked hard so. I’ve worked a few years as a surgeon, I’ve had enough. I’ve done almost 2,000 small, big surgeries. And that’s a record for a surgeon who’s worked as a surgeon for five, six years, yeah. So in that sense I don’t bother to be a surgeon again, I’ve done enough.
[i] Yeah. And where do you work now?
[r] I work in two practices. That’s in an underprivileged area. Painter’s district. It’s a kind of neighborhood with 95% or 98% foreigners. Especially Turk, Moroccan, African, Surinamese, yes. So we have almost, almost 99% ethnic minority patients. So that disadvantaged neighborhood. In The Hague, Schilderswijk. I work in health center, is large health center. It has almost, almost ten thousand patients. We work with 5, 6 doctors, yes. I work full time so I work there 5 days a week.
[i] So you have different locations again?
Two locations, yeah, close by. Both painting district, two health centers. So altogether there are ten thousand patients. Only two locations, three locations.
[i] Do you notice any difference if foreign patients come to you or Dutch patients?
Sure, yeah, yeah, that’s very, very… I’ve also worked… natives, yeah practices that had a lot of natives. So, you can tell the difference, yeah. Culturally, for example, yes, you can clearly see that difference here, yes.
[i] What exactly is it in?
[r] Yeah look, a lot of things that differ between immigrant, native population. That population, in that sense, little bit difficult population. They come to the doctor very soon. Very soon, for small things, for example.
I mean… You mean natives?
Yes. Very soon to the doctor, for example. They’re afraid of, like, a fever, yeah. If a child is sick for one day, they just come straight to the doctor. And when the doctor comes, they just want something, yeah. If someone comes to the doctor, it means they have to have something. Not advice, but medicine, for example. They always have a target question. They just have to answer the target question, not help. And yes, they’re afraid of fever, for example. Children with fever is a big tragedy. But that’s not to say that fever is a problem…
What about the Dutch?
Yes, that Dutch… Yes, too. It’s difficult and easy to say, but it’s a different kind of problem. For example, the Dutch just have a lot of demands, a lot of demands. They just want clarity, and rightly so. And they ask a lot, a lot. They also know, some patients know a lot. They read on the internet or in magazines. They read and then they see a doctor. They just want an explanation. This kind of thing, yeah. Clarity. But you just have to, you’re busy with, you know, one question. You just have to answer the help question clearly. But with autoch… foreigners is very different. They just always want a target question. They just want medicine. I’m fever, I want medication. But the natives come to the doctor and say, “I have a fever, what’s causing it? That’s a difference, yeah. They just always want to know what’s causing it. But the alloch… autoch… immigrants just want medicine. For example, I have a fever, I have a sore throat, I want medicine. I have abdominal pain, I want medicine. But it’s not important what causes it, more often, not always, more often, not important where, where the abdominal pain comes from. Alloch… natives just want, I have a stomach ache, what’s the cause? And then there’s the treatment. [indistinct]
[i] I’m also curious about how the Dutch experience you as a family doctor? Do they accept you easily? Are they suspicious or not?
[r] Yes, I honestly don’t have any trouble. They accept when you graduate. Especially in the Netherlands. I have, they don’t have any trouble. Sure yeah, some things are different, yeah. But I studied for this. Yeah, so, I know rules, for example, communication that sort of thing, I studied for it. So in that sense, I don’t have that many problems, so yeah. Only, yeah. They accept, yeah. When you graduate here, they accept, yes. They appreciate it sometimes. If they see, if anyone sees that you’re an immigrant or a background and a refugee and you work as a family doctor or a doctor, they appreciate it sometimes. In some cases, very rarely, I haven’t immediately noticed that someone doesn’t accept that, no. Not yet. Not directly. At least I haven’t noticed right away. Indirectly, I don’t know.
[i] Yeah, yeah.
[r] Yet a lot of Afghans work here, foreigners, a lot of foreigners work as doctors. They just don’t have a problem with that, no.
[i] Yes. Do you also have contacts with other Afghan doctors?
[r] Yes, we have contacts with Afghan doctors. Afghans provide a lot of doctors in the Netherlands, yes. After the Dutch most doctors come from Afghanistan, the Netherlands second…
Do you have figures on hand?
One figure, I have, we have a kind of meeting every year. Those doctors who live in Europe. They have a meeting. And every year in one European country. And I’m in that meeting, with five other doctors. And two years ago, that meeting was here in Holland. And then there were 300 doctors. But in, for example, most of them come from the Netherlands. So yes, in that sense a lot of Afghan doctors live in the Netherlands, also work as doctors in the Netherlands. I think between 800 and 1000 doctors, Afghan doctors. New doctors yes.
[i] Really. That’s quite a lot.
[r] Also, students, yes. The students who are about to finish their studies. Between 800 and 1,000 total.
Do you know why that is…
[r] Yeah look, most of the refugees, Afghan refugees living in the Netherlands, are highly educated, especially doctors. And that’s also a kind of culture. Yeah, they just want kids to be doctors, or engineers, or judges, yeah. Highly educated. Especially doctor and engineer, yes. So yes, I know people who study medicine in Holland. Up to 4, 5 I know yes. From one family, those siblings are studying medicine. So who especially most of the new doctors graduated in, here yes. So that’s an estimate in, between 800 and 1000 yes.
[i] What do you feel when you say that or when you see that there are so many doctors?
[r] Yeah, yeah.
[i] What does that do to you?
[r] Yeah so, proud of Afghan people or people who just want to study on that sentence so, yeah, they have a purpose, yeah. Didn’t come here for nothing, so just want to contribute, to live together. So, I’m proud of that sentence, I’m proud of Afghans. So they just want to study, do something for, for… This is also our second country, so yeah. If you live somewhere, this is your second country. So you just have to do something there. Not that just…
[i] You dropped the word “contribution. Actually, that’s what I’m looking for. For example, what is your personal contribution to the city of The Hague or the Netherlands in general?
[r] Yeah, look. Yeah, when I came here I was 37 years old. So a period of life was over, yeah. I had nothing. Study was over, wasn’t accepted as, as a doctor. Also, as a basic physician. I was a specialist. But that, it wasn’t accepted. I had my diploma valued, wasn’t comparable to my diploma. So comparable with hbo-diploma, that was comparable with third year of study of medicine. So, so… That’s when I studied hard. And so as a doctor now I’m working in Holland so that, and GP so. And that population where I work that is in itself very difficult. I’ve noticed that. That’s for the Dutch, that’s really hard.
[i] For Dutch doctors, you mean?
[r] Yes, yes, general practitioners. They just come to work there for two, three months and they can keep that up. So in that sense, I work there for almost 4 years, so yeah. So that population, very difficult population is for Dutch people. Then I work there. So that’s a contribution I want to make to living together, a very difficult population. And that, you just want to say that here, so yes. There are just 4, 5 immigrants working there, a few years working there. But our colleague, Dutch general practitioners, just came 2, 3 months, couldn’t keep up. Stopped, stopped. Say: Yes, that’s a very difficult population. Can you hold on here. But we also have trouble with that. But that shouldn’t stop work. No, we go on and on.
[i] What makes you think that you can hold on. What’s that anyway?
[r] Look, that’s culturally determined, 1. Second, yeah look, and that meant we can work hard. With difficult population, difficult group of people living in the Netherlands, yes.
[i] Doesn’t your background play an important role in that, that you…
[r] Background, look background, I understand some questions easily yes, I can easily answer and reassure patient. While a Dutch colleague cannot easily reassure a patient, so in that sense yes. I understand in terms of background, culturally certain things. And not just knowledge, eh. It’s not just knowledge that plays a role here. But knowledge plus cultural background, for example, communication, the way you work, communicating with difficult populations, difficult patients. Of course, that’s easier for us. In comparable, comparing with a Dutch colleague. That’s why they can’t persevere so easily. There are Dutch people working there anyway. But they have a little bit of trouble. A little bit not… I work there for 4 years. It’s 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, 7 colleagues quit yes. Some just work 6 months, others 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, so. Say it’s hard. Look, patients come 10 times for the same symptoms. But, yeah, and 10 times I’m gonna, yeah, deal with the patient. But sometimes when a patient comes 10 times,it doesn’t get that easy just being patient,yeah. But we’re used to it. In that sense, yes, that.
[i] So are you patient too, I understand.
Yeah, sure, yeah. I listen carefully to the patients. I, yeah, the atmosphere I create, that’s acceptable to patients, they trust. They say, they want to tell us everything. Also experience, I’ve been working for 4 years. It’s hard for me. Not that it’s only difficult for Dutch immigrants [natives]. That is difficult for me too. We are accustomed to such situations. So we’ve been through a lot. Difficult situation, difficult circumstances, unsafe situation, this kind of thing yes. So, yeah, that’s easier. And I made that contribution, yes, in such a difficult situation in difficult population.
[i] But that’s like making a professional contribution to society. Do you do anything in the social field, for example, in associations? You said you participate in that doctors’ meeting.
[r] Yeah, we’ve been organizing a meeting for the last 10 years. So every year in European country. Gathering Afghan doctors who live in the Netherlands, sorry living in Europe. In different countries, Switzerland, Sweden, Norwegia [Norway], Germany, Belgium, France.
[i] For what purpose sorry?
[r] Yes it is a kind of acquaintance, memories for example, conviviality. For example, visiting each other because everyone is busy here in the Netherlands. So that is once a year. And they just want something, something to contribute to Afghanistan for example. Collecting something or sending something to Afghanistan for example, help. That organization, different organizations just come together. And they talk about this exchange of experiences this kind of thing.
Do you say, do you say something, Doctors Without Borders say something?
[r] No, no. That’s not Médecins Sans Frontières but that’s some kind of meeting. They have 3.4 goals. First of all, just visiting with an old colleague, like, once a year. So that’s fun together just old memories of the past, for example. That’s one. Second is sociability, music, that sort of thing. Third, they’re also going to organize some things for Afghanistan. For example, help in particular. Exchanging experiences for example, how can you just work as a doctor in the Netherlands, what the rule is, what kind of opportunities there are here, yes. And also new doctors just collect. And meeting and also explaining a little bit of culture, this kind of things. But that, that’s last year in Belgium. I’m in the chair and last year it was Belgium and two years ago it was the Netherlands and this year it’s in Germany. Plus minus, two-, three hundred doctors meet. So that’s interesting.
[i] This is a professional activity you do?
[r] Yes not in the professional field, especially exchanging experiences and also learning from each other’s experiences. Getting to know new doctors who are new to, working in the Netherlands or in Europe. Sometimes a new one, sometimes a lecture or this kind of thing yes. Also, yes, the help handed in in Afghanistan by, by the organization. Do we also talk about these kinds of things, yes.
[i] You understand, you have a busy job, of course. Besides, do you have any social life?
[r] Yeah, it’s a good question, yeah. Yes social life, I work 4, 5 days a week. I have weekends off, so I make time for social life, for family. For my parents too. My mother passed away two years ago in the Netherlands. My father is old, so I’m going to help him too. I also stay with him sometimes. So also with family, brothers and sisters. So I have contact with friends. In that sense I also have a social life, so yes. I have visitors every weekend or I go to visit. Our family, a lot of family also live in Germany, England, Canada, America. We also visit sometimes. So I’m also actively involved in social life, so yes. I do sports twice a week.
[i] What do you do?
That, that fitness twice. So twice a week, at least twice a week, I do hard gymnastics, so yeah.
[i] I understand that besides playing soccer, you also like volleyball.
[r] Yeah, yeah volleyball, yeah. I also like volleyball. Occasionally I play soccer too, but not actively yes. So, I’m old for it. Anyway, I’m not in a club or a team. Only yes, sometimes as a hobby I do… But especially active gymnastics I do twice a person, three times a week, yes. I do that, yes.
[i] We’ve talked about you. A little, a little less about your kids, you know, and your wife…
Yeah, my wife was a dentist in Afghanistan. But she also had her degree appreciated in Holland. So she had to start from third, fourth, but then there wasn’t enough room for dentists. One or two places a year. So the chance that they would get a place was small. And then we couldn’t study both at the same time. She had to work and I had to study. So it was impossible for both, for both, so she gave me a chance, so I became a doctor. And she works as a [indistinct] dental assistant. Also at a dentistry practice for 10, 12 years, but not as a dentist no.
[i] How did you get to know each other in Afghanistan?
[r] In Afghanistan, yes, in Afghanistan. That’s what I’m telling you, so yeah. She worked as a dentist in the practice. And then I had a tooth problem, kind of a tooth problem, was a little problem. So then I went to this practice. And they made a big thing out of it. And then I had to go to the dentist 10, 12, 13 times. And then I fell in love.
[i] Lucky accident.
Yeah, sometimes when I fight, I say, if I’d known, you’d just pull my tooth. Didn’t go to the dentist 10 times. Anyway, that was the reason.
[i] So it was love?
[r] Yes, love. Yeah, love. Started from that dentist’s office. Wasn’t it? Big practice. Very big practice. There were 30, 40 dentists working there at the time. Very big practice. So, yeah.
[i] That was in what town?
Kabul it was.
Afghanistan, yes. So, yeah, then I got married and I have two kids, so, yeah. But my wife doesn’t work as a dentist, unfortunately. So she always misses it, yeah. So the dentistry. That’s it, yeah.
[i] But she’s always had that ambition to…
[r] To become a dentist. But not active. Yes she wanted to become a dentist, but yes, the chances were not so great. Yeah, the spots weren’t that many. And she had to wait a long time to get a place. Couple of years of studying, too, so, the chances weren’t good. So yeah, yeah for dentists, Afghan dentists were a little hard yeah. Compared to doctors. Because there weren’t many places. For doctors, there were more spots. For dentists there weren’t that many spots, no. So that’s why, that didn’t work out.
[i] Are your children going to follow father’s path or mother’s?
[r] My daughter does economics, hbo first year hbo. And my son does psychology college, first year. So not really, yeah medicine, but well some kind of care.
Yeah, psychology.
Psychologist. But not really, really medicine. My son wanted to be a dentist, but, yeah. Anyway, yeah.
[i] And is studying well?
[r] Yeah, yeah, he’s good. Yeah, my daughter’s doing very well. My son is a little doubtful. My daughter, my son is smart, very smart boy, but not that much of a student. My daughter opposites, yes. He still hasn’t found a place of his own. Changed studies two, three times.
[i] Your son?
Yeah, yeah. First was optimetry. [optometry] Kind of like going through eyes and then quitting, saying it’s not for me. And then was with social work, hbo, and then was also 2 years done and then started, since this year, with psychology in Leiden, university. Also sometimes has doubts. I don’t know if, want to go further but okay.
[i] Speaking, do you talk to your children about, about leaving everything behind and actually everything…
[r] Discharge
[i] get lost. There they are. How do they react? To your story, to your…
[r] Yeah, so, yeah, look, they haven’t had such a hard time. When I came, my son was 6 years old and my daughter was 3, so. They’re not that interested, they haven’t been back to their own country yet, yeah. So, yeah, they listen very well sometimes, like a story. But they really haven’t been there. My son was 6 years old, 6 years old. He doesn’t remember very well. Been through a war, but not really that he remembers, no. My daughter doesn’t at all, so yeah. Yeah, look, very different here. They live good time, security here, no financial problems. But no hard times either, no war, so yeah. So they’re not that interested, so sometimes they just listen to a story, like a story, yeah. But they don’t have that real interest.
Do you think that interest comes as they get older?
Yeah, can, can. My daughter would rather go to Afghanistan and see what the situation is there. She’s interested, but my son’s not that interested. Yeah boy then is different, yeah. Especially my daughter wants to. I’d also like to go sometime, but yes. If you go to Afghanistan, you just have to stay there for at least a few weeks and that’s hard. Lots of family there, I haven’t been there for years. Acquaintances.
[i] How long haven’t you been there?
[r] When I came I didn’t come back, go no, 16 years.
[i] Will, do you want to go back?
[r] Yes I’d rather go back but not that I want to live there, no that’s hard yes. Look hard on the sentence when I feel that, that safe, yeah. In the future, yes, I’d rather want something for, not that I, that I know boundaries no. As a doctor, I know no boundaries. I’m not a nationalist. Where I live, that’s my country. That, I’m not like that in Afghanistan, for example, or for Holland. Right now Afghans need me more than Dutch people, yes. So in that sense I would rather work on a country that really, really needs a doctor. I would rather work in a country that needs my work. In the Netherlands too, but well as compared to Afghanistan, Afghanistan few doctors. They really need it. But I’d rather work there as a doctor. But whether that’s possible, that’s the question.
[i] Why can’t I?
Look, if I go to Afghanistan for example, I can work there for example. If the security situation is unstable. Of course I can go back to the Netherlands, because I have a Dutch passport. But if I come to the Netherlands, yeah, I don’t have a pension, I don’t have a future, yeah. That in itself is very difficult. I… For a pension, for your future you have to build up something in the Netherlands. So, if you go to Afghanistan a couple of times, I’m going to earn a living. But I can’t build up a pension, I can’t fix a house for those, who pay pharmacy [mortgage] or things like that. And when I come back, I’ll have nothing. And that, that’s a problem. Yeah, it’s hard for kids too, isn’t it? I don’t have a problem, yes, I can work there for now. But for the future that remains difficult. I want to start again, from scratch. I also have no energy left. Enough, I’m also old for old.
[i] Yes, you’re a fighter but you don’t want to fight anymore.
No, no that’s gone, energy’s gone. Yeah, I’m 53 so yeah. For example, if I go to Afghanistan I’ll work for 3, 4 years and when I come back to Holland I’ll be 57 and, yes, so no more time to fight.
[i] Yeah you already said something about that you started studying on 37th. After that with general practitioner training. Were those defining moments in your life or was that something else? An important event that…
[r] Yeah, look at that, that, that important event for example, one step at step, huh. For example, when I started studying to become a general practitioner, it was very stressful moments. Very stressful, so yes. If I look, I was 37 and I was a student of third year, yes. With difficult communication problems, financial problems, two children, working hard all day and studying at home, studying hard. And that wasn’t so hard, easy. That was really hard, yeah. It took a lot of energy. And sometimes you want to do something, but you’re not that energetic. Say force, force, force. It takes extra energy. That was a difficult moment. And that, that time was very difficult. That base, those two, three years of studying medicine. That’s when I finished studying to be a primary physician. That’s when I started general medicine. It was also a relatively difficult time, but I got my diploma, so yes. Basic medical degree, so that was a lot easier. But now I’m comfortable at work. I’m interested, stress is less. Yeah, of course you’re always stressed with work. Everybody has stress. Even our classes, stressful classes. You get 40 patients a day. And 1 or 2 patients you take home with you, with the thought of the patient because doubt situation or difficult situation so in that sense is our profession, GP medicine is somewhat stressful profession. But I’m used to it, so now it’s easier.
[i] And when you came to the Netherlands, you were 37. It is, ben, was not young anymore. But what was that, that you said: I want to move on. Was that a drive [of yours] or is someone else helping you.
[r] Yeah, yeah, always yourself. So, a lot of people Afghan doctors have stopped, because of age, because of no energy.
[i] But why haven’t you stopped?
[r] But I’m so used to it. I was a hard worker so I accepted defeat then and not now. They just want perseverance, I have that perseverance. So I still have, yeah. So now I want to, now as a doctor, you have to study too. In the after-schools, for example, things do yes. So I didn’t want to lose my white coat easily, so yeah. [indistinct] white coat for a while, so yeah. That’s why I wanted to study again, one more time, one more time. I’ve got a lot of degrees here in the Netherlands too. So stack, magazines, that, that, that, small, that, very much, certificates, very much, it is a stack when I count together, that is how many certificates I have in the Netherlands. I’ve always done something, always. So…
[i] You said articles. What articles? Do you also write articles?
[r] No, no, no. Articles don’t. Those magazines, this sort of thing. But articles, not Arti… those certificates, I mean.
[i] Okay, no, I thought you, uh, write scientific articles.
No, I didn’t do that sort of thing, no, no.
[i] Yeah, what are you missing in Holland here? What are you missing? Are you missing anything at all or… How do you actually feel at that moment?
[r] Yeah look, I miss me. My country is country. That’s Holland is my second country so I miss my homeland. So sometimes I think about my childhood. My, yeah, country of birth. Sometimes I miss, yeah, my poor people, my people who really need a doctor so sometimes I miss. I miss patients from Afghanistan sometimes, very often, so. I’d rather not, not that I’m Afghan, not. I’d rather work in country that really need a doctor, really, really. The Netherlands just need, also needs a doctor, but not, not like in Afghanistan. So yeah, I studied hard for it. And I was a surgeon there, and I fled. And I miss that, yes, I miss that, then I had to stay in Afghanistan for those people who really needed a surgeon. So I miss that, yeah.
[i] But are you sorry you left?
[r] Sorry?
[i] Are you sorry?
[r] Sorry. Sorry that’s very different. I’m not sorry, but, uh, I’m thinking yes. Sorry is a big word, so I’m not. I’m happy to be in Holland. I’m happy to be in Holland. So in that sense I have no regrets. But yes, sometimes you think about it or miss it.
[i] Homesickness
[r] Homesickness, you might as well say. It’s just homesickness, but mostly you think you can say yes…, how, what word should I use for this? Sometimes you think that, that it, that was better that you were a country that really needed someone that, that yes. I could work in Afghanistan, for example, better than here. Because those people really, really need a specialist. In that sense, yeah.
[i] You think you’d be better off in Afghanistan than in Holland.
[r] In Holland? Yeah, yeah.
[i] Because there’s more need there.
[r] Yes.
[i] You’ve lived in the Netherlands since ’98. Have you had it too, disappointments? You said you don’t like defeats and you don’t accept them. But are you also disappointed in something?
[r] Yes look during study have just had moments, have I also had moments that I, yes, that, not comparable to country of origin. That’s, here was hard for me. For example, some exams I couldn’t pass easily back then. And yeah, then I was a specialist. But a small exam wasn’t easy to pass. That was disappointment at the time, yeah. But that’s part of yes, if you want to study, if you want to keep going, this sort of thing. But real disappointment, yeah. No, I wasn’t discriminated against. I haven’t had any problems living in Holland. Real problems. No that’s not really disappointment, no that’s really. Small things are, but not that really big things, no.
[i] You came to Holland in ’98. When did you come to The Hague?
[r] When I came, a few months I lived on an island, Vlieland. Asylum seekers center, was there for a few months. Then in 2000, no 1999 I came to Rijswijk, is also nearby. And since 8 years I live here, in The Hague. So nearby, Rijswijk and The Hague is nearby. So I live almost, almost 5 years in the neighborhood. Rijswijk, The Hague so yes.
The Hague, why? Was that a coincidental choice for The Hague or did you make a conscious choice for it?
[r] Yes, I wanted to live in big cities at the time because in terms of that, that, that education, yes. Is also in The Hague, or Amsterdam, Rotterdam. Also, also… That was the reason. But not really The Hague. But just to live in a big city: The Hague, Utrecht too, or Amsterdam, or Rotterdam. That’s when I came here. Because the universities were here, yes. Also Maastricht and Groningen but yes. I wasn’t that interested in those two cities. Coincidentally, Randstad in particular. Then I, yes, a lot of Afghans lived in that suburb. A lot of Afghans. That was another reason I came here.
[i] What speak to you, in The Hague? Is it… What do you think is special about The Hague?
[r] Special The Hague, yes. First of all, multicultural. In some areas, yeah, very different, yeah. So multicultural in particular. Then you just don’t just see, only Ne…, foreigners also natives, mixed population, that’s what I like. You see someone from every culture, and that’s special in The Hague.
[i] And in terms of nature and architecture?
[r] On nature, sea, for example, nearby. I keep sea because there is no sea in Afghanistan. So I would rather live near a sea. I like swimming, but unfortunately I can’t swim often in the Netherlands. Anyway, I just want to, the hobby, my hobby is also swimming in the sea. And I go to the sea more often in The Hague. Yes, that Scheveningen I go when the weather is nice, I go swimming there. My children also love swimming, especially my daughter, yes, she loves swimming. So that’s the second reason is the sea. And the multicultural and big city, yes. I like big city, not countryside.
[i] How come you like the city?
[r] Yeah. In Afghanistan, I used to live in a big city, cities, too, so yeah. That might be background. No special reason. Yeah. I like a lot of people, so yeah, crowds. Not silence, so.
[i] Yeah, you said you were very active, too, when you were young.
Yeah, yeah, I was very, very, very active when I was young, I was a soccer player, professional soccer player. Every time I studied hard. For medicine and professional football In Afghanistan was not really professional football, but yes you were very hard as a member of a strong team just have to train 5 times a week. And also study hard for. In that sense I was very active. Also clubs, with other boys or friendship, or touring for this kind of things. Sa., yes, organizing visits, parties, this kind of stuff…
[i] But isn’t that why you chose town?
[r] Kan, kan. Yeah, I loved, loved partying back then. I also organize a lot of parties together. Every week, two weeks with other friends partying, for example, soccer, touring.
Yeah. Yeah, for example, I’ve been to Russia more than 10 times for soccer. Like, as an Afghan army [army] team I’ve been to Russia a couple of times. That was great fun.
[i] But that’s organizing tours at the time, or that was before?
[r] No, no no. At the organization, yes. The tours came. I organized them myself with the others, other members of the team who, that tour.
[i] But that was a long time ago.
A long time ago, then.
[i] But you only do sports, actually, yeah, running, swimming.
[r] Now?
Yeah, now, now. No now I don’t organize things like that, no. When I was in Afghanistan, I mean. Now, look, look, I do the gym 2, 3 times a week. And swimming for example, sometimes holidays and visits I go more often to Germany for example Germany also live my family. Also Belgium, France, so in that sense yes. I also like to travel a lot.
[i] Do you have something with the city of The Hague? You said it was more or less, yes pragmatic choice. It’s a big city, proximity to university and so on. But do you have something personal with the city of The Hague? With a place or with a, with a, yes something special, a connection with the city of The Hague? Or have you been able to build it up?
Yes, that special connection with the city of The Hague. My family lives in The Hague. That’s 1. Me, 2, my parents. My mother died, but my father and mother also lived in The Hague. My 2 sisters and 1 brother also live in The Hague. I also live, that’s 1, the special bond with family. And also multicultural so I find that at ease. For if, yes, I also like a lot of people, cultures, yes. Those, I find very interesting. A lot of cultures I find interesting. Those Africans or Moroccans or Afghans or Turks I find interesting. Why is that, I don’t know. Instead of one race or one, one, one… How can I put it? A culture, I like living together in a multicultural way.
[i] I see you live in a reasonably prosperous neighborhood. I don’t know what that neighborhood is called.
Yes, this is also a new neighborhood, since 10 years. Also a lot of highly educated people live here and in our street, 1,2, 5, 6 doctors happen to live in my street. 7. Two radiologists, 1 psychiatrist, 1 nurse, 1 general practitioner, 1 physiotherapist, 1 psychologist. Is medicine street.
How’s that for that…
[r] Coincidental.
[i] Coincidental. Do you have any contact with those neighbors?
Not much, yes. Look at the difference, yeah. In some countries you have a lot of contact with the neighbors. But not here, yeah. Not so much. They’re also colleagues. But we don’t have that much contact. Sometimes, sometimes. Not really active contact. That’s a difference. I miss that, yeah. And you see that in some countries, yes. I have a, coincidentally, childhood friend, who was my classmate in primary school, sorry primary school and high school, lyceum, twelve years. We had such contact, family contact, always these neighbors were so open. Like a family. I found him, 20 years he’s been living in the United States, in Washington. Became a great engineer. Coincidentally on Facebook, I found him through the contact. Nearly a couple of hours about childhood, about those neighbors, about… He remembered everything, yeah. So did I. I never forget a situation like this. This social life, here’s something else, yeah. That, that’s very different, different here. So that colleague for example… I, I know those doctors too, in continuing education for example, yes. I also sometimes see that colleague in hospital, who lives here. But we don’t have much contact. Very little contact, very little. Yes, some don’t send those, those Christmas cards or old-new cards. I always send them, but sometimes you get two more from that colleague. They don’t have much time. Busy life that, that’s something else, yes. I can see that here. I’m a social man myself, I’d rather just have a lot of contact with the neighbours. I don’t have that much time, very little time. But I still want to have contact with the neighbours once in a while. But that, that’s difficult, yes.
[i] So you can’t do that?
[r] Not really, no. Look, everyone’s busy. And if it’s free time, you just want to do something special, yeah. Then you don’t have much time for neighbors. That’s because of hustle and bustle. It’s not that. It’s just, they don’t want to. But busy life, very busy life. Prosperity needs a lot of work, yeah. You don’t get it for nothing. Must be hard for work. If you want a nice house, if you want a nice car, if you want a holiday, this and that. Just have to work hard. They don’t have much time for extra things.
[i] Yeah, if you’re gonna go for walks in your neighborhood. For example, where are you going?
Yeah, I’m going. That’s a very nice neighborhood. Canal, I walk along canal. Has a small center. And also whole park here has green area, water, has very nice water. So I’m gonna walk more often. That’s very nice. When the weather is nice, I go for walks more often. In the neighborhood is beautiful green area, yes.
[i] I would like to come back to the story of contribution. Both professionally and socially. I, I’ve heard that you, for example, yes now, work in the Schilderswijk.
[r] Yes.
[i] With a difficult patient population. That, you see as a contribution, special contribution. You also have, participate in the meeting of doctors, Afghan doctors throughout the European Union.
[r] Yes.
[i] And you also help, for example, Afghans by sending relief supplies. I see that as a great contribution. Your personal contribution to the city of The Hague and to society in general. Do you still have something I forgot to mention? In that context as your own contribution, as your own achievement, yes to the, in society?
[r] Don’t you think that’s enough? [both laugh]
[i] I do.
[r] Yeah, I think it’s enough. Yeah. I’m, I’m regularly active so. Yeah, no more time to make other contributions, but, yeah, maybe I forgot something that I…
[i] At clubs? Besides those doctor’s meetings, you do something else in the city of The Hague itself. Something with refugees, something with…
[r] No I just want to help them, for example the UAF, that foundation, I have contact now and then and for example if they have questions, sometimes just with me, not so much. But I just want to do something. If I’m asked by someone to do something, that’s what I do. But active, regularly not no. [indistinct] Look, I’m, I don’t have that much time. Don’t have any energy either, so yeah. I’ve always worked hard. And lately, I’ve noticed that I don’t have much energy. Yeah, I’m starting to notice that. I’d rather work 4 and a half days instead of 5. That there is extra time, extra days to do something for myself, for example other things. Look 5 days of work. I also have administration, refresher courses. That’s way too much, so yes. I also have to do 40 hours of continuing education per year. In addition to those 5 days of work. Also shifts have to work sometimes. That’s also in addition to 5 days of work. So I think 4 or 5 days is far too much for the time being. So I would rather work 4 days instead of 5 days. And that day I’m not going to, not rest, I just want to do something else, yes. Can I make an extra contribution, something else yes. Also maybe I can organize some other things, useful things for example, those, those…
[i] You said that if you UAF, that foundation asks you for help, that you do. What, what, what are those?
r] Yes, for example, that, information, for example, or giving someone information about how to just get to study in the Netherlands, living together, for example, culturally. Information in particular, so yes. To come to study, for example, or information, how did I come to study, for example. What rule the Netherlands. How can you just move on in life. New refugees, for example. This kind of things if they need it, I am willing to help.
You do that, and…
[r] I haven’t done that much. But I intend to, yeah. Because UAF has done something for me, yes, a lot.
[i] So kind of, kind of grateful. And for that, you want to do something in return.
[r] Yeah, yeah, gratitude. Then also, yeah look, that they have a way yeah, to find a place here in living together that I found through UAF. And now if anyone else needs it, I can just explain. On that note, yes.
[i] Yeah, we’ve talked about a lot of things criss-cross. Yeah, I’d like to ask something, something personal. Do you have any fears? I mean, it doesn’t have to be fears, I don’t mean, but fears of what’s coming, I don’t know, yeah. Those fears can be small, they can be big.
[r] Yeah, sure, yeah. As a human being, yes really fear or yes, I can’t say that, but yes. Yeah, always yeah look. Now I’m healthy. I work 5 days for example. I work in Holland for that long now, so yes. Sometimes I’m afraid when I get sick, for example, when I can’t function. Yes, future, this kind of things, also future of children sometimes I am afraid. How will my children be later for example. Can just find a place in society in particular. My son for example. So yeah, but it’s small things you always have as a human being, yeah. Do you sometimes think… I’m also sometimes, yeah, I’m always optimistic but sometimes, yeah, sometimes anyway you think about some things as a father, as a man, as a human being, are you healthy? Sometimes I think when I get sick, yeah what? Gets hard, yeah. So, uh…
[i] It’s more worry than real fear, actually.
Yeah, yeah. So worries, worries. Look, you’ve built everything up. Like, for example, now everything’s okay. I just got a nice house, cars, job, vacation, stuff like that. If you get sick, it’s all over. Ready. I’ve got good insurance, but it’s not enough to pay for everything. Not like a doctor, yeah. This sort of thing, the little things you’re afraid of, yeah. But that’s normal. But really, really worried or scared, yeah, I can’t say, but good.
[i] I understand it’s very hard, when you have such a busy life, to have, yeah, an outlet. You said it, you deal a lot with Afghan people, family especially. But do you have anything really personal that you want to do? I don’t know, a hobby or really a time for yourself? To escape a little bit of the hustle and bustle. How do you do that? It’s just really hard to keep up like this. You’ve been working for 5, 6 years. Continuing education, running shifts, with two kids even though they’re grown up. You have certain responsibilities, paying for the house. Do you? How do you do that? How do you manage?
Yeah, look so far, I’m starting to notice it’s getting difficult. Yeah, you’re right. You’re right. So 5 days of work with refresher courses, busy life, family life, social life that, and age. That’s getting harder and harder. I’m noticing that now. That’s what’s getting harder. Energy I have now is 20 to 30% less than a few years ago. Like, like, yeah, so that can’t last. That’s true. So I just want to work 4 days instead of 5 days, yeah. And I’ll make it 4 days a week [unclear] when I have work, yeah. Luckily family doctors just have enough work now, for now. For the future no one knows, yes. But 4 days, and if I don’t succeed I’m just going to listen to my body and reduce, so yes. So you’re just gonna take care of that. But if three and a half days is going to work, that can’t be, yeah, reasonable living, that. The good life is important. You don’t just have to have a very luxurious, posh life. But if it’s a life in peace, I think it’s enough. But I plan to reduce my work, but social life is impossible yes. I have big family, brothers, sisters, father. And that’s hard. I have fewer contacts. But still I have contacts with family, yes. That, that demand of family is that I have contact with everyone. That’s what I want, yes. Anyway, that’s gonna be harder, yeah.
[i] It’s shooting me in the face right now. And that’s that you, yeah, actually take care of your dad and nurse him and actually stay with him. Whereas in the Netherlands it is more or less common to send your father to a home or to a…
[r] Nursing home.
[i] Old people’s home.
[r] Yes, that’s true. My father is demented. He needs 24-hour care. 24 hours, that’s tough. But we’re happy with his 8 family. But still hard. I stay with him once every 8 weeks for a week. In the day, I just have to sleep all night or a few hours, then have to work. That’s really hard for me. And now it’s even harder. My dad’s place is actually a nursing home, because he’s demented. But that’s also culturally determined. We’d rather make a contribution to my father, help my father. So until he’s alive. And that is also culturally determined. We don’t want to go to a nursing home. So whether that’s good or not, we don’t know, yeah. Anyway, we take good care of him. And he likes home, too. He goes to day care for a few hours. But he likes home even more, so that, in that sense, that’s hard for us. Anyway, anyway.
[i] Don’t you see that as a contribution to society?
[r] That’s possible. That’s a contribution too, yes. They also think, they appreciate that nursing home or the others, they appreciate it. And say, yes, that they, that they, we respect you. That’s kind of, that, that nursing home where my father sometimes goes there, couple of hours, they always talk about us. They say, you’ve made such a good arrangement. Every week a child stays with your father. And dad’s age, and care, yeah. They respect you, so yeah. But most people prefer to stay at home. That’s right, government just wants people to stay home longer. That’s easy for, for, for quality of life. For older people, too. Anyway, sometimes it’s impossible if you’re with 2 children or 1 child. That’s difficult, yes. But we are happy with 8 children.
[i] No, I just wanted to say that. Because older people just have a right to go to that old people’s home. And you’re saying, you’re just not gonna do that. Because that’s not important to you. You’re just gonna do it because it’s your father. And that, that relieves, yeah, the, uh, the [indistinct] actually. That doesn’t have to be a place. There doesn’t have to be other people to take care of dad. That’s actually social…
[r] Yes, yes, informal care is a large part of care in the Netherlands. That, that, that must, yes. If it’s not informal care, we can’t save that. Look, aging, people are getting a lot older. Old, yeah. Ageing, a lot of people are getting old and it’s impossible to care for everyone. The shelter has to do something. Without caring, we can’t save them. And that’s something everyone has to do.
You mean children have to…
children, children have to do something for the elderly. Otherwise we can’t save them. For example, people are getting old, people are getting old and a lot… In a few years, almost 1/4 of Dutch people over 65 will become Dutch, yes. So few people to help, little care, more money needed, more. Who pays for it, yes? So it’s just informal care, children have to help.
[i] And you set a good example, actually. Aren’t you?
[r] Yeah, yeah. That’s impossible without informal care, informal care I mean those kids, family, volunteers, yeah, without that we can’t save them. That, that keeps the premiums high, that’s priceless. So it has to be.
[i] Mr Azizi, we’re coming to the end of our interview. I’m trying to summarize what we discussed. And especially the story of your contribution and experience of the city. Of the neighborhood where you live. You’ve, you’ve come to The Hague about eight years ago. If I understand correctly. And you also have work in The Hague as a general practitioner. You see that as a great contribution to the city of The Hague, but also to society. You also gave examples of those meetings of doctors from European countries. And also the third example that you care for and nurse your father. I see that as a great contribution by yourself. And we’ve already talked about a lot of other topics. Now’s your chance if you’ve forgotten something or if you want to add something to do it now. Because we’re coming to the end of our interview.
[r] Okay, yeah, look. As a surgeon, you’re always practical yeah. So I’m not used to giving interviews or communica… communicate easily, yeah that might take a little effort to explain everything properly. So good. I’m,uh,yeah,me,no,that’s it. Yeah, don’t forget something, so yeah. Maybe I’ll come later and just e-mail.
[i] Yeah then I’ll come back with my camera.
[i] Anyway, thank you so much for your time, for your really nice story. And then on this one, I’m gonna finish our interview.
[r] Okay, thank you.
[i] Thank you again.
[r] No thanks either, okay. Good luck.