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“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.”

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“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)

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“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)

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“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)

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“My dad is my biggest hero. My family is from Iraq and he was studying engineering in Baghdad when the war broke out. He came to Qatar alone and he finished his studies. When I was 3, our family moved to Virginia so my brother and I could have the best education and learn English. I was 10 when we left the USA and we lived in Oman for a few years. Eventually we came back to Qatar and we settled here. My father worked hard his entire life to provide for our family. Ever since we moved to Qatar my Arabic has really improved since we live here. I also feel a much stronger connection to my religion. I love hearing the call to prayer. Recently I started to wear the Hijab and feels good. Last Ramadan was an amazing experience because many of my family members live here now so I got to spend it with them. I have never been to Iraq but I still have family there. Sometimes I really worry about them because it is not always safe there. We Skype as much as we can. It is my biggest wish for our entire family to reunite.”
(Doha, Qatar)

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“When I was eighteen I left Qatar to study film in Hollywood. I always dreamed about becoming a filmmaker. I was a young boy and all I had ever seen before was the desert. The first three months were the hardest. I was living with an American family and even though they treated me well I was terribly home sick. Back then we didn’t have things such as Skype or Face time. I could call my parents only once a week for just a few minutes. I felt isolated at first but after 3 months I started to feel better. America was a place I only knew from the movies but then I realized not everything you see in the movies is true. In Qatar everything is about family so when you are on your own all of a sudden it is quite a shock. Now I needed to take care of myself. Make my own dinner and do my own laundry. Once I started to get more independent I was able to create a life for myself. It helped me build my personality. I started to grow and I studied and worked and just learned. Once I had all this freedom It’s was a struggle to come back to the old ways. I came back after five years and I realized that I grew and it was hard to fit back in again.”
(Doha, Qatar)

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“My dad has been selling cigarettes all his life. When he passed away I took over his business. I used to work in the market but because the few tourists we have left, the store went out of business. Many of us feel the stress of the failing economy and everyone here is trying to survive. I don’t think we are currently prioritizing our health here in Tunisia. In fact, I think the reason why we smoke so much is because the amount of stress we have. Smoking is a way of coping.”

(Tunis, Tunisia)

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“When I met my ex-boyfriend, I believed that despite of the fact that he was religious and I wasn’t, our love was strong enough to keep the relationship going. I thought that if we make some compromises here and there we would manage. Unfortunately it became too much of a barrier between us and After 1.5 years we ended our relationship. I was heartbroken for a long time.”
“So how did you get over it?”
“I allowed myself to cry and feel the pain. It took a long time but eventually I got over him.”
(Tunis, Tunisia)

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“My mother has diabetes and high blood pressure. Since I can remember I have been responsible for doing the dishes, cooking and cleaning the house. My dad was away a lot for work so I was the one taking care of my mother and brother. I had to grow up really fast. It was hard but I would always hide my tears because I didn’t want my mum to feel guilty.
I am a law student and I hope to become a judge one day. It is strange because on the one hand, I know I had a tough childhood but on the other hand, it is because of my experiences as a child that I have l have this strong determination to become someone.”
(Tunis, Tunisia)

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“I study psychology. During the first days of my studies, they gave us an assignment where all the students had to talk to a complete stranger about their struggles. I remember walking around all day trying to find the courage to do so but I couldn’t. I wasn’t ready. So I looked up to the sky and I talked to god. I shared everything that was weighing on my heart. I was upset with myself that I couldn’t find the courage to talk to a stranger. I always knew that sharing your struggles with other people is hard but that day I actually experienced how difficult it can be..”
(Tunis, Tunisia)

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