1

1

“Right before departure, I was separated from my family and taken off the train at Amsterdam Central Station. They took me to a children’s home. I was only two years old, so I don’t have a lot of memories. I do remember that every time someone rang the door, I had to hide in the basement. When the war ended, I went from one foster family to another. I have lived in over 27 different foster homes. It was not a secure upbringing. When I nine, I discovered ballet. A few years later, I got accepted into a dance company. I’ve been told that dancing is for prostitutes, but I never cared. I always said, ‘if dancing is for prostitutes, then I’m a prostitute.’ Dancing became a way for me to express my emotions. I met my ex-husband when I was eighteen, and we had two children. I became a dance teacher. Even though life continued, I never stopped having questions about my past, what exactly happened to my parents, and what my life was like in the children’s home. Since my family was Jewish, I have always assumed they got deported to the death camps, but it was never confirmed. When there is nobody to verify your story, you sometimes doubt if it really happened. I have never been able to find anything about my past until twelve years ago. I was at my foster mother’s house when my then-boyfriend called and said there’s an article in the paper about the children’s home. I picked up the paper and saw multiple photos of emaciated children. Amongst those children, I saw a little girl. It was me. Someone had found a box of files and pictures at the garbage and brought it to a journalist. Amongst those files, statements were detailing the abuse, neglect, and mistreatment that took place in the children’s home. I remember I was shaking reading the article. It was painful and confronting, but at the same time, it felt like recognition. For the first time, I could say this is not a story that I made up. This really happened.”
2

2

“I never had a strong desire to become a parent. Neither did my wife. We took over my parents cafe instead. We worked for more than 40 years to keep the business going. You could say that the cafe was our child. When we retired we had to sell the cafe. It was hard giving up our business. However, we still live above the cafe and the new owners are doing a great job. Now that I am retired, I spend most of my days reading the paper and taking walks around Amsterdam. When I am tired I stay nearby. When I feel adventurous, I explore different parts of town. My wife and I, we do our own thing. We have no rules. Well except for one: Every day at 5PM we meet at the house and we drink a glass of dry white wine in the living room. No matter how far I walk, she knows I’ll be home 5PM sharp.”
3

3

“I always say that I have two full-time jobs. One is running my own law-firm and the other is being a mother of five children. My three youngest children are triplets so that makes it extra hard. I love being a mother and I love my job but my biggest challenge is to combine the two. When I come home after a long day at the office I try to help them by tutoring them with their homework. As a working mum I try to be an example for them but at the same time I try not to pressure them. I always tell my kids; ’‘Grades do not define who you are.” I care for my kids to be happy.“
(Doha, Qatar)

4

4

“I used to be a bodybuilder. Not just any bodybuilder but a really good one. I won many awards in Saudi Arabia. I am 78 but don’t let my age fool you because I am still a very strong man. I am one of the last pearl divers that is still a live. With diving I am not talking about the modern way of diving. In my days we were diving without a oxygen mask. We had a big heavy weight attached to our feet. Sometimes I would dive 12 meters deep. The person on the ship was holding the rope and I was fully depending on that person to get me back up on the boat. In those days pearls were more expensive than diamonds. Nowadays they have lost their value but they are still beautiful. I still sell them here in my shop. So many people have visited my shop. Even your highness Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands came to visit me one day. Of course I could not let her go without giving her a beautiful set of pearls. She still wears them. I know so because she send me a photo!”
(Doha, Qatar)

5

5

“Every Sunday we go to the same church. One day, after the service he came up to me and asked me out. I agreed and we fell in love. During the week we work so we only see each other on Sundays. First we go to church together and after that we go on a date.
A few months ago he proposed and we got engaged. It is still really new but we are happy to have found each other. We decided to stay in Qatar a little longer so we can save up enough money to pay for our wedding. Than we will go back to Ghana so we can get married and start our lives together.”
(Doha, Qatar)