[i] You chose an object? And would you like to tell me why you chose this object?

[r] I chose it when I look back, what have I done in my life. It gives me an answer.

[i] An answer?

[r] In Holland, yes.

[i] An answer to what?

[r] Answer what, what have I accomplished in my life, especially in the Netherlands. From career, or family, or so to speak, work, then I really have very little, to get the answer, but this is a recognition. What don’t I know or don’t expect, things that I just, because it has to be done. But, but, but there is someone who sees that work is important was. And has contribution to society. Then I think to myself, okay, I have achieved.

[i] Because, you know, it’s a prize? And what’s the price for and what’s it called?

[r] The prize is called Kartini Prize, it’s someone’s annual emancipation prize from The Hague. It is awarded on International Women’s Day. But it is not just an award, the jury selects 3 for it. for the layer people, it can also be a product, it can also be a person, it can also be a company, it can also be a foundation. In my case I was nominated. as a person [name], what has to do with emancipation of women and men in The Hague has a contribution, so emancipation prize from the city of The Hague is contribution of. equal, equality of women and men. In my time 32 were nominated. There, then 3. chosen. There was also a public prize via internet as well, people have to vote, but the jury is also paid that prize, so coincidence I won both. The public prize too, the Kartini Prize. Among other things, why did I get that, it says in the jury report that I have made taboo subject discussable, within African Ethiopian community, such as fgm, domestic violence. To be a role model as well, to simply participate in Dutch society. I organise intercultural activities from Ethiopian culture to the Netherlands, among other things, I show to the Dutch and vice versa. from Ethiopian or African to Dutch culture, so it is intercultural activity among other things. But is also a role model of Dutch refugee women in The Hague.

[i] Can you introduce yourself?

[r] My name is [name]. I am 46 years old. Yes, I live in Leidschendam. I am 20 years in the Netherlands. 1994 I came from Ethiopia to the Netherlands as a refugee. Now I live in Leidschendam, before that it was in The Hague, and at the moment I work in Utrecht, that is.

[i] Hey and in Ethiopia, can you, can you tell something about Ethiopia, where you lived and also about your family?

[r] Yes, I was born in northwest Ethiopia. With a family of five. Two girls and three brothers and I had a normal childhood. I had high school, elementary school, then high school in the city. And then in the capital I studied university, librarian, then in my time was actually a 2 year, then degree and then I worked.

[i] Did you work in the library in Ethiopia?

[r] Right. I worked in the library and the librarian profession is so different from the library. Public Library or Ministry or University, I worked in special library, special library is certain subject for engineers, more technical books, yes, then I was a librarian. Then yes I don’t want to go further in field of librarian, because I would like to work more people. Then at that time start also librarian is more. yes computer, computerized and therefore, training in yes librarian was just another, different steps to go, information service, but I did not choose that. I was studying sociology that time. Because I like people, culture and that’s why I think I work more with people. In between I came to the Netherlands, I didn’t graduate from sociology. And yes, turns out now that I’ve ended up with a very different career, that’s a pity actually, I didn’t do much with my sociology studies. Yes, that wasn’t the time, I mean I was in the asylum seekers’ centre. I had to wait 6 years and I turned 32 and so I couldn’t ask for study funding, I couldn’t go on studying. And at that moment I don’t know, I didn’t know UAF what. I was in Zeeland, really in the village.

[i] Because you’re from Addis Ababa?

[r] Yes, originally me, my parents, I was born in Northwest, but I also lived, worked, yes, in Addis Ababa.

[i] And before you come to Holland, do you live in Addis Ababa?

[r] Yes.

[i] And then you come to Holland?

[r] Yes, then I come to Holland, yes.

[i] And around what year is that?

[r] That was 1994. That’s December. It was 24, I’ll never forget it was Christmas actually in Holland, so I have to wait three days in the application center to get in, because there were yes Christmas.

[i] Hey, and you arrive in Holland and where in Holland?

r] First I was in shelter OC hot, shelter temporarily in Gilze and Rijen. That is in Brabant and I stayed there for three months, yes after three months as everyone had to go to asylum, called AZC, that is longer, longer stay waiting. bleaching, I had moved to Goes, Zeeland and then also, yes Goes was closed and I am still in Burgh-Haamstede, that is also in Zeeland, is a small village. There I waited for the last term asylum seekers procedure.

[i] And how were you, how were the first impressions in the Netherlands for you, do you remember what happened, what did you experience then?

Right. One or the things, is that was for me was that a shock, yes, I, it was in December, I do not have the right clothes anyway, but still if I have seen trees outside without leaves, while is wet and freezing. In Ethiopia, it is, you can only trees without leaves when dry, that was that, a controversial [controversial] for me, still day and night is also, it goes dark early. It doesn’t get sunny in the morning, that’s a big confusion for me, shock. Really the cold. But also the positive impression how the streets were so neat and so many cars, but you see as if, you know, just walking like that, like that, like that, that was my first impression, was in the Netherlands.

[i] And how did you feel then?

[r] When I came? When I came, yeah, sure, very confused. It, it’s just very different and it was kind of a military camp. Where was I in the asylum seekers’ centre, you had to get your stamp once a day, sign it, then you had to walk 10 minutes, it is also outside the city, if you go to the city you have to. yes half an hour walk or very public transport or taxi, only a taxi. And also, the one thing, I want to work, that’s the one thing, I have a room. Every time I remember, some sort of basement, it was in the van at night, only near the end on board. And yes, a given. I didn’t know, you know, and when I came at night, there’s nobody there. I just had to sleep in a room, just sleep. In the morning, I don’t know, what time is it? It’s all confused, then I go outside, look outside, it’s dark, so I don’t know what time it is. After that, I’ve seen people on the street. So and a French speaker woman says, “Manger, Manger [food, food]” that’s the one thing I understand about her. When I’ve been with her. We had to queue up to get breakfast. Is almost a thousand people in that asylum seekers’ center. At that time very much was [unclear], Somalia from the war, which is the big one, that I had to sit in queues. That or bread to fetch, I hate that, I’ve never experienced that. And after that also I have to start somewhere, so someone has to accompany me, but there was no one, coincidentally people. a man from Sudan gave me tour, where to, where can I, you know, wash clothes or something, that was nice actually. And then I just start living there and right away I asked if I can work somewhere. That was my first question. I’d rather be in the library. I miss working so much. But there happened to be a big warehouse, all the books, Amnesty International has given, but it was just without, without anything on the ground. Then I have a little, at least, German or Dutch, just, I put it in a row. So that was nice for me day care.

[i] How long have you been sitting there?

[r] I did 3 months. After 3 months I went to an asylum seekers center, there I have, there I have one, one year, one year,

Then I went back to the Burgh-Haamstede asylum seekers’ centre. Then I looked for a house, then I ended up in The Hague. Actually, that’s it.

[i] That’s a long story, huh?

[r] A long story is also very painful, but I can’t now, is the story.

[i] It happened.

[r] Yes.

[i] And then you came in and how do you start learning Dutch?

r] Learning Dutch, when I was in the asylum seekers’ centre, I told them. English spoken. I never used a translator, fortunately, I speak English with doctors or something like that, that’s nice too, but yes, you start in, in the house, then you really have to speak Dutch. I know a few words in the asylum seekers’ centre, already, when I came to The Hague, I had to integrate. Yes, then I took a test at school called Mondriaan, but I took a test there. Not for Dutch language, she had done test for intelligence or so, IQ, then they told me now level 2, people who already a year earlier in the Netherlands, but that was real. really, yes when I look back, that one or my problem always has to do with my language arrears. Because, I don’t know the basics. A, B, C, D in the Netherlands, how sentence construction is. I didn’t start that in the right way. By then, level 2 people had already seen it. I, I, I don’t know how to do that, I have to speak or write Dutch somewhere. Always has influence, to unlearn is so difficult, because at that moment I lost it. It was not my level. That was the big mass always influence in my language.

And how is that for you now?

[r] Now always, now always for my feeling, I can’t speak Dutch very well, the grammar. The construction, I am used to speaking in English and then sometimes I use the grammar like in English. But fortunately piece by piece I am doing better, but it’s not like I want to describe myself or describe things. But still, I would, I’m never, I dare to do something with it or something. I don’t see it as a big hindrance or handicap. Because I have a different quality, I dare and I will participate. So people sometimes said, yes she really is, it’s not noticeable, yes.

[i] And you’ve come to The Hague and you also have a residence permit?

[r] Yes.

[i] Got

[r] Right. Then, when I was in The Hague I already had residence permits in the asylum seekers’ centre. I have to start. Then I learned that civic integration, 600 hours of Dutch. And after that my plan, my dreams too, was just, just go to school, finish my sociology bachelor. But when I heard, no on benefits, you can’t go on to college. It was a big disappointment for me and also find work in, somewhere in librarian. is also, I have no experience in the Netherlands, then I just start from the lower level, just volunteering in the library. I went to the Volunteer Centre in The Hague for the first time. I saw a vacancy: documentalist. Then I went there. I don’t know where, no no no no madam, you don’t speak Dutch, so you can’t do this. But it’s me. It was Prince Claus Fund. I went there myself, I say I speak English, I want to do something this work. That’s a coincidence, it was an English department of documentation. So I did documentation there for 3 months and then I ran out and then you had to write, then you had to do like this. Then I started volunteering. Then I was in Gouda, once a week, that’s also English speaking business. Once a week in the library just do documentation work as well. As pure, so real, yes, more English material. Then it turns out, the one, the one who works with me, who says, why don’t you go. She says okay, it’s a shame, you speak very good Dutch now and then, it’s all computer lessons now, it would be nice if you do training. In this direction. When I say yes, I don’t have a chance. I’m not allowed for social services, not even volunteering, I just do it secretly. I have to get a job, just a paid job, but once a week I go there. In between I just applied hard to find all the work. She says, before me, look, he’s looking for a school where I can get an education. And you can work with us for at least 3 days, if you want some kind of internship, we don’t pay you. But you can work with us. Then I had to be very lucky, I’m not like that, okay, when I have to ask permission from the social services, that’s allowed to study outside benefit, then I went back to The Hague, yes I still had a place there. Volunteering once a week, but now she wants to do more 3 days a week and pay training costs. I have looked everywhere, I have in The Hague, called Go, a year and a half a training for librarian information service provider. that costs 3500,-. Those people Gouda, they want to pay that too and they also want to give an internship. Then I came back to social service, I told this news, no madam that’s not allowed. Yes, first of all you work in Gouda, Gouda is not municipality of The Hague. That’s not possible.

[i] How do you deal with disappointment? [name]

[r] Yes, at that moment, you, I’m disappointed, but I’m somebody there, there won’t stay. So I’m gonna find another option, I, I don’t know, than when, I say, what? She says, yeah, suppose if you work in The Hague maybe, go and see. Then I looked for 100 libraries, everywhere, small, big, I applied for an internship. And then I got it at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague, they want me, because I speak English and I have librarian experience. Fine, I’m back to social services, well, I’m in The Hague now, so they can’t say anything and they don’t pay anything for the training either. And in the future I’ll have a job, I mean after a year and a half. Yeah, that’s lucky after a lot, it’s not that easy, but it did work out. Then I got it. The training form fills in everything. I always have at home, that was me, in September I could not, because of the procedure, in February I could, I can sit at school. But, my eyes bother me. My eyes get tired, especially when they are behind the computer, I had to learn computer really quickly at that time, because the training is in computer. in Ethiopia I do not have computer background. Librarian was at that time, in my time was just manual, by hand. When I have to do this. But I do look something a little weird in the computer. That’s my eyes getting tired a little fast. Then I went to the doctor, quick to look if I help those glasses. Yes doctor sends me to my hospital and I’m examined. You get surgery, I say, but in, how is that, because in February I’m going to start school, I want fast. But then I asked how’s the surgery? The operation isn’t on your eyes, it’s on your eye muscles. Because your eyes are getting tired, because your muscles are a little lazy. So if you were a child maybe you would with practice, but you’re not a child now, maybe with surgery we can correct. And she told me so simply, in December, December 17, 2002 I went to hospital. Even I heard right after the surgery I would go back home. Sure I have no one in family, I also went alone. Because they have your eyes that are closed, I thought being here somewhere or something. Yeah I did the surgery, then I got out of the hospital, I couldn’t see, I thought, I thought maybe because of the blood or something. No, and then I took a cab, my house was really 5 minutes, 10 minutes walk. I went home, day after day, day after day, I can’t see. So I went home, I can’t see my stuff either. I can’t go outside anymore, I see everything like this. All, I can’t, only I can sit like this, that’s the one thing I can see, but I can’t… So, I, I had to come for a check-up after a month, I have to wait, in between I’ve been to my doctor actually, because I can’t see. Then after a month,I was told,yes,the surgery,um,what word he said,the surgery was good. It didn’t go wrong,it didn’t go wrong,it went wrong. So,yeah,then I had to get on the waiting list for recovery surgery. I just don’t feel like,or trust,operating on the same doctor. I’ve asked for second opinion, I’ve been to Rotterdam, Erasmus. I operated in 2003, 4 [2004] to fix that mistake. Twice, so hard time, at that moment I don’t speak the language well either, I don’t know so many organizations. After the operation I just had to pay my taxi, I stay, I order food from outside, I can’t cook, I can’t go shopping. I can’t do my education anymore, so sad, so disappointed. Yeah, finally 200…, until 2014 is also, it’s not real, this is not good. Then I had to get a third opinion. I heard in Leiden is good doctor. When the last surgery I had done in 2007. I, I remain with disability, but has improved. All those double vision and blurred. But my eyes really get very sensitive from all that surgery, but also the coordination in my eyes is always very difficult, because I am stuck. My eyes don’t move that much, I have to move with my body. That causes so much pain, physical pain. And for the rest yes, after that I may have to do other training with social services, that was not allowed. I was very stubborn at the time, I trained for social services myself, I worked at Holland, InHolland, that’s where I am, then I was there for 3 months. I’m not allowed for social services, so I have to leave, go out, leave school. Yes unfortunately, after that I look for all kinds of possibilities. to develop myself, then I have so much, yes from 2007 after the last operation, 2008 actually. I have my first paid job at GGD The Hague.

How was that?

[r] That’s the one happiest moment in the Netherlands, because my eyes are always sensitive, I’m moved at the thrift store and in the, how is that? In lead. industrial area, I remember getting up 5 hours, I have to be there 7 hours. My eyes can’t see well now in the clothing warehouse, that’s the work they found me.

[i] What kind of work?

In H&M clothing warehouse, sorting clothes. Alphabet’s in the right place. But when my eyes were inflamed, I can’t see through the fabric now. When Social Services said, it’s your last chance, you can, you don’t get any more benefits, so I was out of benefits. Seated for couple, couple of times. And but if eventually I have to find a paid job somewhere in that situation and all. My eyes were still not good. But I got the first job, paid job at GGD The Hague. The reason was also, I volunteered for GGD The Hague and I have information about female circumcision education, so I do have a contract. But I was hired for a temporary project intercultural project employee, for Afrikaans, I give advice for the employees, how they can reach Afrikaans, also how they deal with Africa. So that was 1 year project.

[i] Did you like doing that work?

[r] Yes, first of all that’s real paid job, the freedom, I don’t have to force, the work I don’t want to do. That makes my health. Yeah that’s good and secondly also the first time contact with the Dutch, you know, colleagues, just the culture of the Netherlands working together, that’s also been a good experience. And the third is also, of course, it’s [unintelligible] again, paid job. I built that up. As for money, is not so much difference, is three euros more than benefits, but the freedom and the profession and the contact with my colleagues. Yeah, fine.

[i] What do you think is most important? Right now, or at that moment.

[r] Anyway, I think the most important thing is to be independent. That’s the most important thing in my life.

[i] What does that mean to you?

[r] Look, I, I’ve never been dependent, so you, you end up in your life being dependent. That’s just really hard. It doesn’t matter, accept too, but you also have a duty, you have to do what you don’t want or you can’t do. Because you get benefits. You feel powerless, your self-esteem is difficult, you feel guilty that you can’t yourself. Yes not, you have done training, you leave everything behind and you find yourself in another situation, another country, especially is also a complication with my eyes, she has enormous influence with my life. Yeah, and so do I. That trauma thing. I’ve stepped into everything, but sometimes you can’t go any further. You’re limited, that’s powerless, the moment when you work, when you get a paid job, first of all the independence and the space and the freedom, yes, that’s very nice.

[i] Is freedom important?

[r] Yes, for me that’s the most important, that’s why I’m here. In which we have something of disagreement, or what, what is it, that freedom is the most important thing and independent.

[i] How would you define freedom for yourself?

[r] Define. Define freedom for myself that eh, in, in the small, in the small, not as police or anything like that, but just, just as you’re asking me right now, that I don’t depend on anyone. Someone doesn’t define my life, everyday life, what am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do, that, remember, you know, that beginning of me even closer, sure. There’s a lot when we talk freedom, but for me freedom gets the space to do what I want to do. The space gets that I don’t, not everything, but at least that doesn’t affect anyone else. That, that’s the most important thing.

I had a question, that, when I went to read your data and I thought, what does power mean to you? Inner strength

[r] Innerness. For me, yeah, my life has so many setbacks. I have one, I don’t have a real easy life. So, always falling out. So I know, I need strength to get up even, even more. Then that’s the power I think I have. Sometimes I also see it from other people as inspiration.

Like who, who’s your greatest inspiration?

Um. You know when I see in my country, example my aunt was my inspiration, she’s my father’s sister. She’s a real woman, in hindsight I know, when I’m in Holland, I took a leadership course in Amsterdam. When she asked me, who do you think, who in your family circle do you think you are? Then you know I have to find someone who, who, who is in my so inspiration. Then I interviewed her before she died happy, what her life was like. She was forcibly married, without what she wanted. The man who wants to get married was in Ethiopia at the time, right at that moment. And when she got divorced, when she fled to another city. She married a man who is really rich and just administrator, just known in the, in the area, but because she is so ambitious. she doesn’t want that kind of life, she wants to do something, earn it herself. When she got divorced, she opened another bar/restaurant. In that time huh, I mean, well, she’s not sad anymore, that’s maybe 16 years ago. 15 years ago, and all that, you know, all her, that moment, I mean, at that time and the neighborhood, where did it come from. Just really, no, she’d never. also been to college or school or something. But she said oh as long as I’ve been to school she said once. So many things are in my head but unfortunately. You know, I haven’t been to school, so, that kind of things she says for me, that someone has to develop, you have to persevere and she doesn’t want to depend on someone, she doesn’t want to just be a housewife, she just wants to do things herself there. So that’s what I think. In the Netherlands, older people especially, they are for me inspiration and how they already feel about their countries, you know on the street when I walk, she goes, everything just you know in the hair in control. I yeah, you know that give you, yeah me too, anyway, I belong here and this people too, when I see these people too, I also get inspiration. The other one, those foreigners mostly, just like me, just fled here. How difficult life is just becoming another country, but still a force, you know, raising his children, learning another language. What that’s like. So I’m actually getting inspiration there, too, from all sorts of sources.

[i] You do a lot in the neighbourhood and also with the Ethiopian community or the African community?

[r] We have a foundation, I am chairman and also founder. When I had seen there, I do a lot of myself, volunteering, later I had decided maybe if I set up a foundation, maybe it will be able to achieve even more. Then, certain goals we founded the foundation 2008, called foundation Gobez. Has the objective of organizing intercultural activity. Also health education, especially taboo topics to discuss.

i] What are taboo topics then?

r] Such as female circumcision, domestic violence. These are more…

[i] For the Ethiopian community, you mean?

[r] Not only for the Ethiopian actually, it is for, for the Netherlands often. Anyway, I give this information not only for the Ethiopian, but also for other migrants, domestic violence for example, fgm is specifically African. Not all Africans, only 20, 29 countries that prevents fgm. Because Ethiopia is, among other things, a country that also prevents fgm. It is, it is, it is so funny how am I also involved in this fgm education? I was in a conference in 2007, I was invited through refugee work. I have no idea. I was in Rotterdam. And then there was zero tolerance, it is February 6, it is celebrated annually in the Netherlands against fgm. And there, I see a woman sitting among the Dutch and there is going to be a presentation on fgm, a film. And when I saw that, it was Ethiopian gentleman who is invited from Ethiopia to give a presentation. When I was in Ethiopia, when I know that girl, girls had been circumcised, but it was not and issue that you hear and see something, it just happened as normal thing. But I’ve never seen this event in my eyes either. So when I saw a movie, I feel so awful. Later, no then to that moment as Sudanese, Somali woman almost to tears, so traumatized. Me, me too, so, so, I was watching, next to me Dutch especially, said, where are you from? From Ethiopia I had said, oh, you are the hardest people to find. So, why? Yes association in The Hague is looking for Ethiopian people to give training and information because your country also has female circumcision and still countries at risk. We have a pilot project. I want to do it! Then we are in the break to him colleague, introduce, and so I knew Friday, Monday I went to GGD The Hague, when I heard that I get training as [unintelligible] person, fgm, yes provide information for the Ethiopian community. Then I looked for another colleague. And we were in a corner a training and education for fgm for the Ethiopian group to give. Yes, until today I do volunteer work as well. Sometimes I sit together with GGD The Hague, among other things

[i] And what other kind of volunteer work are you doing right now?

[r] I’ve done so much volunteering. Especially every project is started in The Hague, for example, I am asked. Especially when it is participation. Well, I don’t know, it’s because it’s so much, I’d better say now what I’m doing. Through the foundation it is volunteering, where can it be information meeting, we also go to visit people’s homes, guide newcomers. Often you are also invited to attend a meeting, that is purely for the foundation. But most of it is in The Hague. I have been living in Leidschendam since 2008. Sure I do, I live here then I got a feeling. I have to contribute something to that as well. Then I start, Leidschendam is a very small village, Dutch village. Is very different The Hague, it’s not multicentre. I have to get used to it, to find my way. Then I went to the library, I want to do Ethiopian coffee ceremony, that’s what I did in The Hague. From coffee time to meeting. When I don’t work in the librarian, I often miss the library. Then I often go to the library. But I want to do something in the library, so that’s my real, my first, my first duty there wants to do something. Then I did in The Hague in the neighbourhood library, now I come to Leidschendam to ask. Coincidence, coincidentally after 1 year they invited me, it was month of history and theme, there is presented about Dutch history. I am allowed to give a presentation about Ethiopian history. So I did a small exposition and coffee ceremony there. Then I started to participate a bit in the neighborhood, that was not enough, later I also met in the foundation I organized a meeting, food, coffee ceremony among other things. But that too, I have a feeling that is, that is, yes that is always. i also want to concentrate here, where i’m going to live, often i’m in The Hague. and last year, a women’s day, a girl came to my house, not girl, construction worker. She’s looking for women about a dream, a dream. She collects dreams of women. So that, that girl who works in Leidschendam, who collects dreams that can inspire other women for Women’s Day. Okay, and I don’t know her, she’s coming to interview me just like you. And she asked me about my dreams. Dreams that come true, dreams that don’t. And maybe those dreams came true or not. When I told you all the big dreams, I’d like to be a social worker, have a steady paid job, among other things. But later I told her if I have money, if I speak the language well. if I have space, I’d like to play theatre. And then asked me what kind of theatre? Well, theatre, just human life, even including my own, is different. I see in this neighborhood, [unintelligible], maybe something to connect people. Then, yes when she was a little quiet and the later after two months, she had invited me for conversation. Why wouldn’t you do the theater play now? I said right now my priority was to find work and learn the language too and that, that’s too and I don’t have money to learn the theater, you know. Okay, what if I give you a chance now? You know, you’re gonna make theater, then you can see in this neighborhood, something we can do. Yeah when I said, I issued certain idea, certain theme. Actually, like a way people’s lives just play their story. It’s painful sometimes, people even they don’t see it if I tell my story now, it can also be 24 hours, but it’s still difficult for people maybe theater. Then I asked the municipality, the project, they made a project. And yes, now it’s going to be theatre. Every time I play the theatre.

[i] You play in a theater?

[r] Yes, I am.

[i] And what’s the name of the theater

Unheard of. Yes, unheard of. Unheard yeah existed as the 9 players. I’m one of the players, actually initiator. It was seen 4 times last June in Leidschendam, but it was sold out. They go again 25, 26, today is also played. So later, I also play in the. in theater.

[i] Do you like playing in front of an audience?

[r] Yeah, it’s fun because the process was tough because it’s personal story. That’s all the memory, all the pain, it’s just real story, real life story. it was really hard process, but now I’m starting to enjoy it. So real fun and getting compliments from other people and also brought movement. Example for disability was not sweet. right library, by the theater is now elevator is also made and the municipality has sponsored this, subside it, one more time for civil servants to see. So that does have effect, not only enjoy, but has movement. So I’m one of the Leidschendammers, so.

[i] Are you familiar around here? Do people recognize you from the stage?

[r] For the stage. No, some people know me, but I’ve worked with books before. at Prinsenhof. There’s also a magazine this month. I’m going to be interviewed. I think slowly people can get to know me.

[i] Nice.

[r] Yeah.

[i] And what kind of audience do you like to play for? Just people from the neighborhood, or, yeah, what kind of people do you play for?

[r] Right. Yeah, actually, the audience is diverse. I also like to go for really diverse audiences, I’ve invited a lot of people myself. Would like newcomers, refugees, but also ordinary white Dutch people, how they think about refugees or migrants, about disabled people, just have someone’s assessment. Or leave people in a corner. But which, which situation of the people they don’t understand, why, why am I so supportive. Or no matter what is [unintelligible], so in Leidschendam is a bit, this Prinshof is called the district, most foreigners live. So not so much interaction with the Dutch. Precisely the theatre was nice because many Dutch people were there in the show. So they had a bit of understanding for people’s lives how it is. But it’s also fun for everyone, showing that theatre and everyone likes it, just know, just real, some are crying, some are crying, it’s very emotional. With a lot of people being emotional through the theater, but is also later she said [?]

[i] How do you deal with that when you see, you’re playing and you see people getting emotional, crying, laughing, what does that do to you while you’re playing?

[r] Right. Yeah, now I’m over, over, what’s the name? I was in the emotional, too, a lot. So I’m working on my own, I’m also in my, my emotion, but luckily now I’m less. I, I’m just playing.

[i] You’re playing yourself?

Yeah, I play myself and my story. A piece of what I’ve told you here, comes back to the theater too. I’m playing my own story. Everybody plays, too, plays their own story, real story. Cause that’s how bodies, you know, that collaborate sometimes, yeah, it’s different. Me, me, my path is more over, about me. om, about me, that’s either that or my dreams. That theater performance. Well, that, that, that’s been done now, that’s really great. Somebody hearing you, all that maybe your dream, that’s one or my success. One or, one or my contributions to Leidschendam, actually.

[i] Hey, and you’re coming, you work in Utrecht too?

[r] Right now.

[i] What was, when was the first time you came to Utrecht?

[r] I really happened to be in Utrecht. Utrecht. Since 2007 I’ve been in Utrecht a lot, that fgm education, it was in Utrecht. And then I have information training for domestic violence, it was also in Utrecht. It’s called Pharos, an organisation for migrants and refugees, refugees. About health, knowledge and expertise centre. There she often has a course and she has training for a counsellor. From 2007. I am very evening, but 2011 I also have a job there, my second paid job was in Utrecht, at GGD Utrecht. So, I really have a special bond with Utrecht now.

[i] What do you think, what’s your first impression when you’re in Utrecht? What do you notice?

[r] Of course, often I was just going for a while, just back, but after that I’m more. You know, more in the city. Yeah I just like this, the shop, the mall after Central Station, Hoog Catharijne, that’s what I think.

[i] Why?

[r] That’s what you run without. Yeah, you walk in there without rain or not, just inside, it’s nice to walk in there. If you walk out of there, the Oude Gracht, I don’t know, I like it so much. I just get a different feeling there.

[i] Can you describe that feeling?

You know, from the crowds, you’re downstairs. I don’t know, one, sort of. bonding, you know, just sitting there, just.

[i] a bond with.

[r] A bond just for me or certain between a water and certain two walls, that you want, you know, just some kind of boundary. Then I can be more with myself and also enjoy what, what here. I love water, I am, I come, I grew up next to water, Nile and that big lake. Water like that gives me more peace. But is it also, is different, Holland is very custard, flat. you know then you get the feeling of somewhere a border. In Africa there are more mountains and more different landscapes. But in that little bit down there you can look high, you know, maybe that! I don’t know, it has a nice feeling. Calm and is different, that’s what I think, yeah, that’s where I’d like to go. And also Ethiopian restaurant, haha, sure. And I go to Ethiopian food every once in a while when I feel the need. It’s just a 2 minute walk to the Oude Gracht.

[i] Do you know a lot of Ethiopians in Utrecht?

[r] Now because of my work earlier. I have it, I have worked at GGD The Hague for certain topic of female circumcision, that is not for specifically for the Ethiopian, of the whole African. So at that moment I got to know the people. At the moment through. Now I’m getting to know more Ethiopian people there for my work.

[i] Is that nice for you to get to know more Ethiopians, get to know them? in Utrecht?

[r] Yeah. Yeah, sure. It is, it is fun and among other things, I have seen it in between time, example in The Hague are Ethiopians. they are easy to find, because we have a foundation, we have the network and you know when I get to know them in Utrecht, it is really hard to find people quickly. I’ve learned how important that self-organization is. say, people participate here. Roads, somewhere to find a way.

[i] Is that different in Utrecht than in The Hague?

[r] Yes, yes.

[i] What’s different then?

[r] In The Hague if I want to find Ethiopian people. Now you can ask me at the same time I can give 10 people your phone number.


[r] Just where I am from my activity, they come often, we had the contact. But in Utrecht, the, you ask 1 person. You can’t just get that phone number like that. And these people too, they’re not used to meeting, I think they just live meeting, so.

[i] And do you think that has to do with the city itself, with Utrecht itself?

[r] No. Just because there are a lot of central points there for the Ethiopians themselves. Ethiopians get together, do something activity, also and organization that people gather together. You can’t go anywhere here. to find those people. Where can you find people, on the street? That’s difficult. Yeah.

[i] And how did you do that, because you come to Utrecht for the courses and the education, huh? that’s the professional side now.

[r] Yeah, yeah.

[i] And from that professional point of view, how do you qualify with those people, with the Ethiopians living in Utrecht?


How do you do that?

[r] I mean from previous work or what…

Yeah, past and present?

[r] Then, yes. Then then then, then was 2011. I had to work for African from other African countries as well. It’s funny the other African countries has a foundation, or a church, where can I really go. But for the Ethiopian were nothing.

And what other African countries?

Somalia, Togo. Ghana, Burkina Faso and Guinea, yes, there are, and Eritrees and Ethiopian were the only ones who didn’t have a foundation so, actually, I’ve been looking for people on the streets. At the restaurant, or Burger King, at the station to meet people too. Just like that, but later, I went to church and.

[i] There’s an Ethiopian church in Utrecht?

[r] No, there was some kind of festival, church service just, I heard, there was some fundraising for the church, it happened to be in Utrecht. Then I’m there, I have contact with people for that, when the GGD sponsored, the hall rent and among other things to eat from the people. That has, the project again has space, money, that to do, because so difficult, difficult subject. Then you have to adapt, with the people, with the culture.

[i] And what was the subject then?

[r] Female circumcision. It was a painful project for GGD Utrecht. Not only Utrecht, six cities, but Utrecht is having a hard time doing this painful project, they haven’t done much, they’ve had money for three years, but she’s looking for someone to do it, that’s when I was hired, and Utrecht was actually new to me. With the Ethio…, the Ethiopian was the hardest group to reach at that time for me. Because er, it was going somewhere, no central point there people can ask for. But in the end it worked out. By sponsoring a meeting, just from their own people, during that meeting, it was rural people’s day, of course there will be 100 people, when we’ve given information there.

Hey, that’s very specific, huh.

Female circumcision, yes.

Specific theme, profession.

[r] That’s right.

How, can you tell me something about it, for example, I’ve never given information about anything, how do you give that information?

There are different ways to give information, depending on the theme. You have to know a certain, certain standards. The group, how the group dynamics are. What culture fits the group, for example, if I go to Ethiopian church, I really have to dress like people. Or if I go to mosque, I have to have some kind of headscarf, you have to adapt. Language is also important, you, I have a mostly own language education for the Ethiopians. As for other Afrikaans or I have to adapt when people speak English in the Netherlands. But most important also knowledge about the subject.

[i] But how are you going to bring such a difficult, painful theme into the community, how do you do that?

[r] Yes, you use all kinds of ways, models, example. If I say people like music example, you can use music that day during the education. When I tell people, do fun, example living room meeting, we use Ethiopian coffee ceremony. I, I often use that people to be a little looser and own themselves. So you fit the group, sometimes of the culture or what makes it, a little more confident, you have to choose it too. When do people just find themselves free. For example, I give information sometimes only for women, sometimes for the young people separately. Young people who were born or grew up are very different than, say, us who came to the Netherlands later. With men, sometimes when you get the feeling, now it’s negotiable, then you go mixed, mixed, I mean together, give information together. So, it’s not just knowledge, but you have to really learn about the group. And also, you have to be so flexible.

[i] Can you give an example of being flexible?

[r] Example, professionals, they only want to work from 8 to 6, for example, a working day. I’m flexible on Sundays or Saturdays when I’m in the group, then I’m going to adjust the information to them which times suit them. That is also a flexibility and the second is, I also see what else they need. Sometimes it’s not my job, but sometimes they come up with other problems. Then you have to help the people in case the information goes, with sometimes babysitter, you have to arrange, from them also, sometimes yes certain event example we can use, example Mother’s Day. But no small gift for Mother’s Day, then we talk about motherhood. You know, you have to be creative and every moment yes, to get those people their way to get that information or to make that negotiable. That’s the flexibility, it’s not really standard, standard, the yes like professionals. It’s not because of them, it has to come like that, that doesn’t work, those people are not yet, those are the process, so you’re busy too, a miss the process, sometimes you have to adapt, often. in the group example, a few people who can handle powerpoint presentation, sometimes those have to have sheets in their own language, yes that’s what I mean.

[i] What do you like most about this work?

[r] I I I what I like most is that, I like to learn, I like to learn new things, but I like to hear things. To become conscious, to transfer that to the others. Transferring knowledge, that’s what I like best.

[i] Yes?

[r] Yes. I don’t know maybe about my old profession too, is librarian, you just give information to people or something. All the time I find this or fascinating, transferring knowledge.

You like to do that? With bee, with the Ethiopian community, but also with the African community.

[r] With everyone!

With everyone.

[r] With everyone, for example with the Dutch about Ethiopians, they have very little information about Ethiopians, they only talk about war. hunger, but outside that is really fascinating country, lots of history, culture and that also gives workshops, lectures, sometimes coffee ceremonies. But is also information about, just facts, you know, travel information.

You also have your own business, don’t you?

[r] At the moment I’m setting up my own company, I’m practicing. I’d like to do the information anyway. I would also like to give information about Ethiopia, or workshop, or lecture. In addition, from time to time, certain projects, just like now BMP has a lot of work, because Ethiopia is Ethiopian, Ethiopian background. There I am now working on this and that may come who knows other research, so I, I look, but so many people also and nowadays, she goes to Ethiopia to work, to live there. But they are also very adoptive parents, if they need it then I will, yes, give information. Me, I use it, culture is a tool. Instrument of integration, the engine of integration, for me, I am in the Netherlands. A lot of use, Ethiopian culture, first of all a means of bringing me in contact with the people.

[i] The Ethiopian culture?

[r] Yes.

[i] Can you, I don’t know anything about Ethiopian culture, what do you use Ethiopian culture to bring about that integration? Could you give me an example.

[r] In my way, with me, what did I do when I came here, just people, just contact me. You’re new. And it’s not custom that I go to someone’s house, hello and come have coffee, that doesn’t work. Something of mine has to come to people’s contact. And then I start asking my neighbors to have coffee with me. So in Ethiopia it is normal to have coffee with your neighbors on a daily basis, but in the Netherlands it is just not the appointment. Or even, yes, it isn’t. So then I start with neighbors, sometimes I don’t succeed, it might take years, months, drinking coffee with the neighbors. But out there, I also want to get in touch with Dutch people in the community centre. And one way or another, I have to use what I have, people of feeling, if you have, you’re welcome, if I want, much less welcome. That’s just international standard. So, when I tell them to show what people like about the Netherlands, it is very open to know or ask new things, they are curious. Then start making friends. That’s when I got in touch with people and that’s where I learn from, huh, this is also about integration, you don’t have to come from one side of my feelings, precisely because that culture is the hospitality of that Ethiopian culture that makes people eat, drink coffee, you know, it’s just so simple things. Or clothes, now also, what I have is Ethiopian clothes actually, if I go somewhere, festival, I get Ethiopian. And people are gonna talk to me soon, where are you from, what’s, what’s this? Then you interact with people. Something like that. And soon, Ethiopian people too, of course, everyone’s proud. What, what’s got something positive, I can bring it to the other, so that use, it’s, it’s, it’s a, yeah, kind of a tool actually. Those, those things that, what have I brought with me from my country, the good culture that I keep it, the bad traditional like female circumcision, that’s what I want to discuss. Yeah, that’s it.

[i] Contact with people is important, isn’t it, for you?

[r] Yes I love people, love people, love or make contact, make contact, not only for myself, but for other people as well. You know, people’s first need is actually contact with people and with yourself. In the Netherlands that is very much less say, compare with Ethiopia, here is individual people, of course in Ethiopia was perhaps something else. Time, it’s different, modernist or globalisation or [unintelligible], but you know, you learn from people and you belong with people. And you need other people, they need you, no matter who you are and where, what level you are.

[i] You use your identity if I understand it correctly you use your identity as a woman from Ethiopia to make contact with others here?

[r] Then start, yeah sure, my, me, I use purely for my identity, but when I see back now, I don’t know as identity, something it’s different, you know, from the others, so show it. It’s not that that’s the strong identity from Ethiopia, it’s getting less and less, it’s more you, you’re here, you feel at home here, you, you’re here every day. But you can’t let go of what you had, because that half, I came when I was 26 so, half my life, I didn’t, I, I was born, I grew up there. I can’t let go of that. But I, I adjust to myself here too, often.

[i] That’s very nice what you say, on what basis do you make choices here in the Netherlands? For example, the choices of volunteering and working for the theatre and for… working in The Hague, Utrecht, in Leidschendam, in Rotterdam. You are so active. What, yes how do those choices come about?

[r] Sometimes I choose consciously, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes I have to choose, because I have no other options. That, that’s the painful one.

[i] Yes?

[r] All volunteering then done in the beginning. When beginning was important to me was to bring contact, to do experience. Later for other people, actually, I don’t want time to become so, so hard for others like me, I’ve seen this road now. Why shouldn’t I show other people that way, why he has to walk so long to find that way? that’s my motto, I know how hard it is, so I want to make the way easier for others, that’s 1. And second is that volunteering. for me is either a way to do experience later also because I haven’t made a right profession, this is my profession, that I’ve done the training. So I can’t just make a certain career in 1 direction. like what you’ve seen, my life was just yeah, very different from what I want, how do I want. So I have to find a way that becomes something for me. So. Hope each and every opportunity, I just grab. Every opportunity, small, difficult or easy. For me it’s better than nothing, so that’s why I’m more involved everywhere, actually, I don’t want a social worker, I can’t work as a professional. But by volunteering I have that, that’s what I need.

[i] Yeah.

[r] That what’s hot in the Netherlands, I get from, what’s hot, merit, what’s your name in the Netherlands, do I get satisfaction, what’s hot?


[r] So that’s 1. Satisfaction?

[i] Yes, satisfaction.

[r] Satisfaction that I can’t achieve as a professional with career I can’t, but by volunteering you can, I more, do that. And the second is, as I want to be independent, I have to try everything. I I I have to, it’s so exhausting that every time with the choose. Every time, I do not choose the easiest way. because the easy way does not exist for me, or I am so ambitious, then does not suit me to be passive. But is also, I have to, I have to work, but get that work. that is my level, it is a higher mentality, but in my social level there are layers, that collide.

[i] Yeah.

[r] So is so awful.

[i] So contradictory.

[r] Yes contradictory. That my ambition, my dream, my desire, my wish, so higher. And the reality, I’m just in layers, in lower levels for my life. That is very, very painful to accept. I wouldn’t just stay that way, I want to process if possible and also find a moment when I finally feel that, here just something, just something, just feel at home.

[i] But, don’t you feel at home here? I mean, I do feel at home, but are the things I’m wrong.You’re wrong. You know,you have security,you have independence,you have freedom. That’s the most important thing in me, but sometimes I have moments that I didn’t have, then I don’t feel at home, that I’m forced, for example, because I get benefits, things that don’t want to work. Or, I’m moved somewhere, between people, I have all the respect of every person, but those people have never worked, not heard about CV never heard, then I get information, yes you had to do your job proposal, every morning. Yes that’s the case with that particular trajectory you are in trajectory people who no longer worked, but you have to be among those people, because you get benefits. At that moment you know, I want to leave, because I I. I didn’t belong there, me, with all due respect. I deserve a different position, challenge. In that moment, you know, I feel, yeah, so much pain. And so much insecurity, so much powerlessness. I don’t know where I want to go, but I want to get away from that kind of escape, you don’t feel at home. That’s what it is.

[i] And then how do you pick yourself up and say okay? New day.

New beginning.

New beginning, new challenges, how, how do you do that?

[r] Yeah, I’ve been on benefits 3 times, my benefits stopped, because, yeah. But fortunately, I take myself back, because I, I look completely different, myself, because I want this now, that if the other wants. they don’t want for me, that’s not rule this, for this I can tell you example. When I work at GGD Utrecht, yes it’s temporary project information, beautiful you work with civil servants. And stop, after 3 months I have to go back on benefit. Sure that’s me, I have a letter, integration, yes then I’m used, I went to that appointment. I thought you know I get intake interview, what have you done, what would you like to do or so, but I’m right away from place, yes you have to take your shoes off, those new shoes. Then you have to get in that production work. 100 people in another room, just have to explain first, you have to say hello then people, you have to brush your teeth every morning, you have to be clean. And also the worst was, the space in front of my eyes is not very suitable, chemical things together, it was sensitive. Then, yeah, I worked there for 3 months, but I’m almost burned out. Of all the dust, all the things. Then I was moved to also green, green work hot. That was also chemical inside, the closet was no good. I’m almost stuffy, my eyes can’t sleep. Okay, in that process I was made for a year, again I got the job and then I got unemployed. Am I also forced [forced] to go to a thrift store. I have every respect, but the problem, my eyes are very sensitive to dust. I have to be in a clean environment. Okay, at that point, what do you feel? If I say no, I don’t have a home, I become homeless, my benefits stop. What are you gonna say? I actually have the medical reasons. Finally taking so long, but in the meantime I was applying for a job, for example. Just somewhere. Then I get a job or I have another volunteer. in a neighborhood example, at the community center. And she also asked me because I get benefits, people have a feeling that you’re not motivated or you’re not, what are you going to do for us? I say what do you have for me here, I can do anything. No tell me what you want with us, with us. I say give me a chance, I’ll see what’s going on here. Between that time they let me, 200 plates washed with my hand, and also, I have to spend 1000 flyers in the neighborhood, because a benefit agency has a negative report. Ma’am, she doesn’t want to work in the thrift store. So you just, you’re in the blacklist, while it’s not seen like you. After a week, I plan on writing what I want to do at the community center. When I’ve seen very few foreigners mainly come there. I, I don’t know the area, but foreigners do come here, I ask. Yes, but they don’t come to our community center. Okay I want to try and get those people here. Well, go ahead. When I organized a meeting every week. Started women, I, I go to school, on the street, at the supermarket, that woman talking. Then once a week, I organized an information meeting. Then she believes, but she doesn’t get that opportunity. Then my contact came after a week, she was on holiday, she has to give a vote for that I am allowed to work there, because I have in the thrift store… During a conversation at the table. I don’t know, with that lady who works, she’s very real, yeah, I don’t know which employer works for you. During the interview. Later on, that, that lady who’s bossing me, you know, they have impression, negative impression of me. That’s why she had that plate washed, delivered. That means, you can’t be yourself, you know, that kind of frustration. You don’t get mad as a human being, you’re like that. So, finally, six months in that community center, I got a nice letter of recommendation. They even say 200 percent she’s worked. And then later she went to,uh,to,uh,the contact who sent me that letter about my negative,yes,ma’am,so,so,so… You know, you have to prove it, prove it’s so hard. You have to prove yourself ten times to really be you as a good person. Proving that is exhausting, sometimes you can’t prove because you don’t get a chance to get anywhere to prove yourself.

[i] That, I imagine it’s unfair.

Yeah, gives that, gives uncertainty gives frustration. That also shows you as refugees, you can say, oh if it was my country. It’s not true, but it still gives you a lot of feelings, to get over it, you’re still on the run. You always want to leave, but you don’t know where to go. So that’s what this kind of thing actually makes you very restless. And then, that, that not you, yeah.

[i] And yet now I think about what you said about Utrecht, that you’re there and you’re experiencing a certain kind of restlessness.

[r] Yes, starting over again for me is, of course it’s exciting, challenging, but at least I get the space to do how things I want to do. Or that I can use and use my talent. I can also develop when I’m in between. with you, with my colleague who, you know, I can learn. Maybe she too can learn from me, maybe I can contribute, that talent that I have and maybe different. My employer, the former employer in Utrecht, during the farewell, farewell to me, I mean the project is finished, he says, they were three people selected for that profession, applied. The two people are really fine, speaking good Dutch, writing. But I did choose the other one, that was [name] he says, she was ambitious. I’m sure she’ll keep it, she wants to do that work. I said never mind about the Netherlands, I’m going to write it, I can compensate for that with her… Now, I’ve never regretted choosing her at all, she says. So some people do look at you as a person. Some people through the language, you know they have different judgment. At least as a person you think you have, who accepts you, or tries to use your, well, your qualities, not just see the negative or the inferior sides. Everyone has weaknesses, for me the language is weaknesses. Maybe in other things, too.

[i] But well you, you are aware of that and I I, you deal with that in a conscious way and that is also a very great talent of yours, I think. yes I, I would be nice if I speak Dutch even better. Now also, I’m working on Dutch. But, I don’t think that’s really that would be a real obstacle handicap to doing nothing. Because if that work is what I’ve done. Anyway, I’ve done it. Maybe be difficult for my colleague, but with other things you’re going to compensate. I also advise everyone, do something with you, don’t think only I can’t speak Dutch very well.

[i] Do you think that, yes, how, your experiences in the Netherlands, do you think refugees get equal opportunities as others? I don’t think, not only the chance, but also refugees is very different kind, different kind of person. If you ask migrants, here for example, Surinamese, Moroccan guest workers have come. I can not experience the first generation, but after that. They have family here, so the environment helps you, to get that chance. You have grandmother, you have an aunt, maybe they also know companies, that network helps you. But refugees don’t have that. Often they’ve either fled on their own, or they’ve had another trauma experience that takes time to deal with. The asylum procedure isn’t that easy either, it’s not, it’s just finished, you have to continue with those procedures. You want something, you want to do something? You want to work something, you want to learn something, but you can’t! That means because you’re a fugitive. NHB determines, yes determines obstacles, that makes it, she gets less chance, but the situation is. yes that’s a shame, so many potential people. Because of all those procedures, also in my job, I’ve worked with people who get papers sooner, who get the chance, do training. More, more they are lucky in their lives and also easy in Dutch society. Feeling at home here too. People who don’t get a chance on time, who are isolated, in terms of language as well. In terms of all experience. So I think it’s with refugees, it’s not equal opportunity.

[i] And you have Dutch nationality?


[i] And why did you choose that? In the end? And when, when did you get the Dutch nationality?

[r] I applied for Dutch nationality in 2001, since that is what I did. I would not go to Ethiopia, I would not, at that time for me is not, is not safe. Anyway I am not also allowed to keep two nationalities, so I have chosen Dutch nationality. It is really just double feeling, that you, now now it is much less, but then was, yes it is a double feeling. You know as if you, you. You had nothing, you know, you didn’t have the countries, you didn’t have your parents, that nationality feeling is also there, you know, yes, pass on, let go. Then you feel grateful, you know, but it’s always more like you’re here more, now I wouldn’t have it any other way, so to speak. But my parents find it difficult, my father especially. I didn’t ask for a vote, but I did pass. He finds it so bad, that I, that I have other nationality. I took that with me. I’m not Ethiopian anymore. But also in terms of other things, yes, I mean. I don’t know. It’s confusing. Sometimes you know, oh I’m not Dutch or I’m not Ethiopian, certain moment you don’t feel somewhere. You’re in Holland with nationality, but like last time I told you, you know, you’re more in trouble. And you don’t know where, you don’t feel me somewhere where you belong.

[i] Do you feel displaced? Do you feel displaced?

What’s displaced?

[i] Uprooted is that you don’t really have a country. Nowhere.


[i] Doesn’t belong to any country.

[r] As I told you, yes certain moment example, I have a problem with a job application, if not, with my benefit. that or becomes compelling, at that moment yes often comes back this. I thought yeah I’m leaving, but also in Ethiopia, I don’t belong there either. And here too! So… Because it of refugee feeling maybe the other people also Dutch, she would never feel that way, but I, I belong nowhere. There is, comes back often, especially. if I do not get a chance, or if I, I am unemployed, you know the biggest problem for me that, I just like to do something. Now say, the moment there, you’re not holding onto anything. For that independence, I’ve sacrified everything, everything. I don’t have family here, I don’t have a career, you know I have, at least the one thing I want is to be independent.

[i] That’s right, you do, and if you turn the question around now, what have you got here?

[r] What do I have here? Maybe if you’re not with the Netherlands, maybe I wouldn’t be so maybe wise, things, because so much, so many experiences, the up and the down. but not only up and the downs, but I also have good moments, example that Kartini Prize. So, and get a feeling, okay, then I’m somebody else’s. I get looked at by someone other than me looking in my mirror. You know, strong woman, how do they do that, how do you actually do that, where do you get the energy, then stand still a bit, yes then, then I come back, okay, I know I’m getting [or work] hard. I work hard, but in terms of you know, concretely something, then the moment then I have a lot to do, but so little achieved, I mean personal success. If I describe myself then it’s with work, a step because to troy…, setbacks sometimes makes, that’s unclear. But I think now, I’m on the right track. Right now, yeah, at least I’m working. And I’m doing all those talents so far what I’ve done, or volunteering, or courses, or workshops, whatever it is. I’d like to do that in if I’m not career, career, but at least I’m going freelance, this is what I want to do.

[i] Because you actually do a lot of nice things, you do a lot of useful things too, for, for, giving information. so you’re playing in the Neighbourhood Theatre now, you actually work, I understand that you would like an authority to acknowledge that? But is that really…

[r] Being independent, not just acknowledging that, but that comes with my bread. In the end I am independent, that, that independence, that economy I am independent.

i] Being economically independent, that would be you, in the future is that a dream for you?

Yeah, yeah, that gives you freedom.

[i] Yes.

[r] As you say, if you have freedom you are healthy, happy. You are your own, your own, your own self, you’re not somebody’s, you know, you’re with yourself.

[i] [Name] I had also read that you love Delft Blue?

[r] Yes, it’s true. Yeah, I ask the one thing that, of course, in Holland, when I, when I look, Holland has become my country too. I love Ethiopian things too, but Holland, Delftware, not only Delftware, but also royal family, I don’t know that that gives me, you know, there I am. subconsciously, subconsciously maybe busy, that makes me feel good. That like, you know, just hold something.

[i] Did you also meet Queen Maxima once?

[r] Right.

How was that?

[r] For me? Yeah, it’s, it was so after course for enterprise of women, and I there I was a lot of women who had done that course and at the certificate ceremony, there’s somebody, there’s a book presentation book, how’s. become, have to pass for Maxima. When the organization [name] you had to give for Maxima. You know, the other my course all, often they are Dutch, they have their own company or she is just. I am the one refugee who is in that course, I am the one who speaks Dutch well, does not speak Dutch well, and is so, yes, when they say it, but afterwards, I have heard. because you are so persistent, that course you have paid contribution. There is no one from a refugee or African background or a newcomer, not even daring to come and get an education, that’s for us. for you there is extra promotion, she cancels later. Then I passed on that book to the Princess Maxima. She’s nice, actually speaking yes with her, but it’s a short one. But now really use as a promotional material sometimes, it gives something.

[i] Do you have anything else you would like to tell me about your contribution to, for example, Utrecht? As a city, as a place where you come and work?

[r] Right. In, look, in The Hague I have the Kartini Prize, but I also have municipal award. municipality of The Hague, 10 years of relevant work, 2012 the moment, from the moment I am 1 day in The Hague, I was always busy. Okay, Leidschendam also a theater project. Now the next step is I think most of the contacts now I have in Utrecht. Coincidentally my old job, I often did training there. Now also, for BMP, Unprecedented Special. I am 1 or the 4 workers of the Ethiopian community in Utrecht. Actually I chose this job, right, it is about refugees and contribution in the Netherlands. When refugees first contribute themselves and secondly that Ethiopian people in Utrecht make visible. I have seen from last week how difficult that is to achieve. But also making it visible, but also in the group trajectory. also helping them in their process, also a way, at least to participate, in a personal life story. Sure. It’s mainly the contact to what I’m looking for during recruitment. Sometimes, it’s really hard work, but sometimes as in 1 time than people found, interview. I’m also inspired by people’s stories. I learn from this, from them there. I, I also appreciate which way is, you know, life builds up here, or to see it. And later that work too, when I see it in a museum, in archives, in the library. This is my old job, old trade. You know, in a different way, well, I’m putting something, yeah, something in the library or the archives, museum something. That just gives me satisfaction. So, I’m happy to do that. Well, I’ve, I think I’ve, I’ve told you a lot of things. The one thing I want to say is, fugitive, they deserve a chance. Whatever the reason is, leaving your own country, that’s the hardest decision to make alive, or living in another country. Same as I’d like to tomorrow for you, go to America. Just without anything, they’ll all be taken care of. Would be difficult, yes leave your acquaintances, your colleagues, the culture, the environment, still that itself and difficult. So, and refugee has that. Often disappearances are [forced], without will that has to leave them from that country. But if she comes into new country, also, yes, get opportunities, just. And also show them talents too, or use talents… Especially it is sin that educate people higher up, just it is, would be potential [possibility] for the Netherlands. Or to bring another people from another country to work here and give training. Dear Holland is one or the countries that gives scholarships for other countries, for the same [unintelligible]. While we are refugees, we would like to learn, but very few possibilities. That is, I find that very unfortunate and it would be better to have the opportunity. And thank you.