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Innovators, creatives - people and sites of awesome creativity

Humans of Amsterdam

3/3 “I always wanted to learn how to play basketball so I googled: How to play basketball? in Arabic. I only got English search results so that is when I realized I needed to learn English. Since I only had an education until the age of 9, a lot of basic things like reading and writing or knowing how to use a computer is really difficult for me. I found out about free classes at the Migrant CommunityCentre in Beirut. I took English and Computer classes and I met a lot of people from different backgrounds. One day I met a volunteer. She was a therapist and I told her my story. She offered me free therapy sessions. For three months straight I would see her every week and I would talk to her about my past. She helped me a lot. All my life I was raised to believe that I was a ‘’nobody’’. It will take a long time before I can feel that I am ’‘somebody”. I don’t need to be better or smarter than other people, I just want to feel that I am equal to others. Learning English has given me a lot of confidence. I have found a nice place to live and I made a lot of friends her at the Migrant Centre. I know that my life will improve, all I got to do is keep on educating myself’’ (Beirut, Lebanon)

2/3 ”My friend told me that my youngest brother got murdered. He got into trouble with a group of criminals in Aleppo and they killed him. I immediately packed my stuff and I went back to Aleppo for the funeral. The next day, after the funeral my father and grandfather came up to me. They told me that I needed to take revenge on the men who killed my little brother. They had already arranged a gun for me. As much as I was hurt, there was no way I was going to kill anyone. I told them: ‘’If I do it, there is no difference between me and the criminals who killed my brother.’’ That night I left Aleppo and I decided to never come back. I got back to Damascus and someone had broken into my room and stolen all my money and clothes. I have never felt so lonely in my entire life. I couldn’t ask anyone for help. I went back to work and tried to survive and rebuild my financial situation. In 2011 the war started and the situation in Damascus became unstable. A few years later I got drafted in by the Army. Again I didn’t want to fight so I postponed my service and left Syria. I came to Lebanon and the first thing I did was trying to find a job. Once I found work I was tried to find shelter. I went to the UN office because someone told me that Syrians could apply for refugee status which can give you benefits. When I arrived at the UN office there was a huge line and people were treated horribly. I realized that it would take days for me to receive some sort of help. I didn’t want to risk losing my new job as a tailor. So even though I fled my country, officially I am not a refugee.”

(4/4) “Years later, we found out, through a reconstruction based on stories from different people, that Sadif was seen carrying Enesa through the forest while she was already dead. People had told him to leave her body behind. Sadif had told them that he wouldn’t leave Enesa alone. Remains of Sadif’s body were only found in 2015. After finding out about Enesa’s death, my mother still took good care of the set of bedsheets. I could see there was something my mom was still struggling with. It took her years to finally tell me that, just before leaving Srebrenica, Enesa had told her that she was pregnant. My mother passed away in 2016. All those years she kept the set of sheets under her bed. Before finding out about Enesa’s death, the set symbolized hope. After they found her body, the set became a part of my sister that my mother carried with her. The big sheet I kept for my family. I have two daughters. I want them to know who their aunt was. They love seeing the sheet. One day I will pass it on to them and they will share the story of Enesa with their children. I decided to donate the pillowcases to the Srebrenica Memorial Center and the War Childhood Museum. If I kept them to myself, only my family would know about what happened to Enesa. This way, thewholeworldwillknow.”