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Gideon, Eritrea

At age 25, I am by far the oldest in my class. I am doing the MBO education to become a Building Maintenance Employee. Most of my classmates are not even 20 yet, but I had to learn Dutch before I could start my education. It is a beautiful and varied profession, so I look forward to starting to work in this field.

I was 18 years old when I arrived in the Netherlands. With my mother and some of my sisters and a brother, we followed my father to Leiderdorp. For us the trip was fairly easy, but for my father – who went before us – it was a long journey with many obstacles.

In Eritrea I wanted to become an accountant. My father had a construction company and I was going to work for him. Everything I learned there was different in the Netherlands, so I had to start all over. A friend advised me to do the study that I am doing now, because you can do this work in many places. And it will help you throughout your life to be handy with tools and maintenance, even in your own home.

My great passion is the church. I am a Deacon of the Orthodox Christian Tewhado Church in our region. I am also secretary of the board. Our services take place in a rented church building in Oegstgeest. Anyone who lives behind Leiden station is familiar with the image of the many Eritreans, dressed in white, who walk towards our church on Saturdays.

Our celebrations last four to five hours. This weekend it's Easter for us. This means we will be celebrating all night. Men stand on one side of the church and women on the other, so they can't distract each other. My role is to be the assistant of the priests. I also want to become a priest. That's my biggest dream. In Eritrea that would be a full-time job, but here that's not possible. Look at my father. As a priest he shouldn't be working on the side but our church is not yet financially stable, so he has a job in a sushi factory.

Besides doing the MBO education, I am also studying hard to become a priest. God is most important to me. That's why I don't want a relationship now. I'd rather focus on something else. But in our church, we are allowed to marry as priests. This is how I see my future: to become a good all-rounder in construction, become a priest, get married and then start a family.


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