This is Mahdet. In the summer of 2015 he fled from Syria, via Turkey and then by boat to Greece. Like so many did. The hand that gripped him after he stepped out of the boat was from a Dutch girl. "You have to go to the Netherlands, she said. We are going to help you". He went to Austria by foot and took the train from there to Amsterdam. In September 2015 he arrived in the Netherlands with the hope of rebuilding his life.

First he ended up in a refugee center in the Bijlmer, then the Marnixstraat. Madhet is someone who wants to do something, feels responsible and speaks English perfectly. That meant that he helped in the AZCs in resolving disputes, but also got a representative role in talks between the AZC, refugees and the government. After 15 months he gets the results of his asylum: rejected. The government mistakenly thinks he is entitled to asylum in the region through his (Palestinian) wife. A lawyer tried to help him, but without any results. In the meantime he had to leave the refugee center.


Mahdet is now living on the streets and sleeps in a homeless shelter in Almere. He has nowhere to go. It is unbelievable in what kind of a nightmare he ended up. And while a few years ago he had a good job as an assistant manager in the Emirates. I see the helplessness and frustration in his face. He wants to do something, to work, even if he earns almost nothing. Now he feels totally useless. He looks at me questioningly, but I don’t know the answers as well.