“I was at my aunt’s house when we received a phone call that my dad had passed away. I was living in Suriname with my mother at the time. My dad lived here. Despite the distance, he tried to visit me as much as possible. He would always bring expensive clothing from The Netherlands, which made me the coolest kid in my street. The last time I saw my father, I was nine years old. During his last visit, he took me to all these different places and told me a lot about his life. It was as if he knew that it would be the last time we would see each other. My father got buried in The Netherlands. I was supposed to stay only a few months until after the funeral, but my mother thought I would have a better future here in The Netherlands. My mother went back to Suriname, and I stayed with some relatives. Growing up without your parents is difficult. As a kid, I didn’t know how to express my emotions. Anger became a way of expressing my pain. My outlook on life changed when I turned eighteen. I would hang out a lot with my friends on the street. One day, a man from my neighborhood came up to me and said: If we are lucky, we have a few people who take care of us in this life. I have been watching you. You are not taking good care of yourself. After he said that, I realized that I needed to take better care of myself and deal with my emotions. His words hit home because he actually noticed me.”

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