The Zonnebloem Foundation is committed to helping people who are at risk of social isolation due to their physical disability. On behalf of De Zonnebloem, thousands of volunteers are active every day to organize and supervise social and recreational activities. Such as Abeer Yemany who fled Yemen to the Netherlands in 2018.
“When I came to the Netherlands three years ago, I immediately started taking language lessons at the AZC. I have reached level B1+. I quickly learned that studying the language without talking to people is not enough. The language you learn at university is very different from the language “on the street”. I have been living in Wormer for about a year and a half. Corona made it impossible to meet people. I live alone and spoke Arabic online with my family and friends. I was afraid that everything I had learned would soon be forgotten. That’s why I was happy when Gert, my matcher at NewBees, asked if I was interested in volunteering at the Zonnebloem foundation. I immediately said yes.
I feel happy after my day of work
Every two weeks I visit Mrs K. in Wormerveer. She needs company, especially now in this Corona period. I’ll stay for two or three hours and we’ll talk. About everything. Her family, her childhood, her husband who passed away a few years ago. I tell about my country, Yemen, about our traditions, our culture, what I eat. I show her pictures. I talk about my first experiences in the Netherlands, my partner, my family. I tell her everything. I really consider Mrs. K. like family now. She always asks how I’m doing, what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks. Sometimes we play games, scrabble for example. After my working day and my visit to Mrs. K., I feel happy.
When I first visited her, we didn’t understand each other. She spoke very fast and my Dutch was not good yet. I asked if she could speak more slowly. And she did immediately. She is very nice. If I don’t know words, I consult the translation program on my phone. Now our conversations are much better. My supervisor at De Zonnebloem regularly checks whether everything is going well, whether I and Mrs. K. are still satisfied “buddies”.
No experience in healthcare
Before coming to the Netherlands I worked in Yemen for ten years. In sales, in finance, as an administrative assistant. I have absolutely no experience in healthcare. Still, I like this traineeship at De Zonnebloem for several reasons. I’m all alone here. The work gives me the opportunity to meet people, practice the language and get to know the Dutch (work) culture. In addition, I am happy when I can help other people. I’ve been doing this for six months now.
My advice for newcomers: start a language course as soon as possible and do volunteer work. It is the best way to quickly learn the language and to find your way in Dutch society.