Ayan, Somalia



“I feel good here, despite everything that has happened.” Her positive attitude is admirable. She speaks thoughtfully and still has some difficulty with her Dutch. “I had no permanent place to sleep and no money, but I kept on telling myself: it will be fine, it is gonna be OK. And now it's all good!"


“First my mother came to the Netherlands. A year later, me and my sister were allowed to come as well. In Somalia there is war and a lot of poverty, so luckily, we got the chance to leave. I was 17 by the time I arrived at my mother's house in Alphen. Two years later I left again, because I had met a man and we wanted to get married. My mother didn't think that was a good idea, but we did it anyway."


“She was right. It's always like that with mothers," she laughs. “He was not a good man to me. One day he kicked me out of the house after we had an argument, despite the fact that I was pregnant. I knocked on my mother's door again, but she had no room. I was able to live with my sister and a friend for a while, but not for too long. And so, I ended up in a homeless shelter.”


“Abdul was born there. I lived there for a year. It's not a nice place, but it was a solution at the time. After that I was able to get a house here in Leiden with the help of a social worker. From that moment on, I slowly started to rebuild our lives. Now, five years later, I am about to graduate as a level two nurse. When my Dutch is better, I will start working in domestic care. I like working with older people. That also fits with my religion. Islam tells us that we should take care of our fellow human beings and that we should have respect for our elders.”


“Last summer I went back to my native country for the first time. That was a shock. I knew then for sure, I don't want to leave the Netherlands anymore. All right, there are more rules, but I feel safe here. And Abdul was born here. He likes snow and is more Dutch than Somali.”


“A lot has happened in the past five years. But everything is good now. Abdul and I have a good time together, I will start working soon and Abdul likes to play and pretend to be a doctor. So, who knows, we may both end up working in healthcare in the future!”