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Janine and Alaa can talk about anything

Janine and Alaa can talk about anything

“Our contact is very special. We can laugh. We talk about everything. We feel at home with Janine’s family.”

On a cold afternoon in December over two years ago, I rang the doorbell of Alaa, a Palestinian-Syrian young woman who lives in Zeist with her husband and three children. I came with Janine and her children. Janine had approached us and indicated that she very much wanted to do something for refugees with her family. And so they became the buddy family of Alaa and Khaled and their three children. Janine and Martijn also have three children about the same age. And what fun they have together!

Now, two years later, they have really become friends and do all sorts of things together, going to the woods, to the playground, eating pancakes together, and going to the museum. They even went to the dolphinarium with the whole group once! It actually all goes by itself.

Alaa’s youngest brother, seventeen-year-old Omran, who has been living with Alaa’s family for a year, also regularly joins their activities.

“I have a lot of contact with Janine but also the contact with Martin is very special,” says Alaa. “He is like my brother. We can laugh. We talk about everything. That’s a big difference from Syria. There, men are more separated from women in contact.”

Khaled, Alaa’s husband is also very happy. “They are very nice people and very sweet people. It is the only Dutch family we have contact with! Other than that, we only have contact with our 83-three-year-old language coach!”

“We feel at home with Janine’s family. We talk about parenting, about music, about everything. About the relationship between men and women, how to deal with each other. In the beginning with Google translate, but now we don’t have to.”

The Arabic language is very rich and Janine enjoys it immensely. She sits completely relaxed on the couch while her children are playing nicely and the oldest two are just going over the topography they both need to learn. For Janine, it enriches her world and her life. “I enjoy the contact, the hospitality, the delicious food. It’s a feast to meet each other!”

We eat together and the jokes go back and forth. Laughter echoes across the table. Humour is very important. And then the bell rings again and also Ehab another brother of Alaa who also lives in Zeist joins us for dinner. He has also become friends with them. He listens to a lot of Dutch music and loves Frank Boeijen. And so Janine and Ehab went to a concert of him together!

And what is even more special: since March 1, 2023, Alaa works at Welkom in Utrecht as a contact person in the new AZC in Overvecht. Janine encouraged her to apply for a job and helped with the CV.