Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's a strange world

Ideas travels, as a normal person with a passport again, in Europe, to a friend he met this summer, when he travelled Europe without any rights, chased by the authorities. It's a strange world.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Ideas moved to Rotterdam last weekend and lives in the attic of a house he shares with other people. He's saving up for a computer. In the mean time it would be great if somebody can lend him a computer -desktop, laptop.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Ideas will leave the camp soon: he found a room in a house with other students. He's saying goodbye with a typical Syrian dish, cooked together with his roommates. In december we start with the account of the first steps of Ideas in Dutch society.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

new neighbours

Ideas participates in the New Neighbours project of Willem de Kooning student Nienke Galjaard. 

Nienke built a pop-up coffeebar where refugees serve free coffee and conversations. Ideas spent an afternoon with Nienke and his New Neighbours in front of the Markthallen in Rotterdam and had a great time.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


In the camp there's a man from Edlib, in the north of Syria, who is a good player of the oud, the traditional lute of the Arab world. People gather around and dream away on the sound of the Oud. Ideas recorded it while his roommate is listening, very concentrated.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Ideas' cousin is also fleeing now. They WhatsApp regularly. The journey is now different from earlier this year. There are -still- more people. And it's colder.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

letter to the editor

Ideas wrote a letter through WhatsApp

about the debate on refugees in Eurpean society and the impact it has on refugees that I (Sam) translated and sent to the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, who printed it yesterday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


This week, Halbe Zijlstra, the chairman of the Dutch liberal -ruling- party, did his best to depict refugees in the media as non-entities, that can be put in 'container housing with minimum living conditiions and 20 euro's a week'. 

The NRC Handelsblad editors contribution demands that politicians stop framing refugees as welfare-tourists. Hurah for the NRC, this is a very important message.
Refugees themselves though are invisible in these discussions. But they read newspapers and are very aware of what's going on. And yes, they do not feel welcome and yes, that depresses them. I urge media and politicians to include refugees in their dabate.

Monday, October 12, 2015


Ideas gets this video via WhatsApp: there are still large groups in inflatable rafts coming to the Greek islands near the Turkish coast. Here they are lining up for food on Chios.

Friday, October 9, 2015

public transport

Like many ex pats in the Netherlands, Ideas has trouble to get to know the ins and outs of the OV chipcard, the public transport paying card . Since a week, Ideas has a personal chipcard, that provides him with 40 % discount in the weekends and out of  rush hours. The system of the card: checking in, checking out, seems simple enough. But the devil is in the details: how to check in for the fast train to Rotterdam? Do you have to check in separately for the tram? Don't forget to check out. etc. etc.
This week Ideas paid at least 10 euro's too much. And he does not feel good about this.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ideas is learning how to blog

How does it work? Whats the difference between a blog, Facebook and a website? Ideas asks.
And we both look at the screen. Actually, it is a difficult question. But I do my best to explain. From now on, Ideas will also contribute to the blog. Inshallah, of course.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Ideas is touring the Netherlands: here he's at the Willem de Kooning academy in Rotterdam where he told his story to students of the advertising department. On the 6th of October he will present in De Zwijger in Amsterdam. 
(picture Nikki Vieler) 

Monday, September 21, 2015


Ideas appears to be a trendsetter again. From Germany there are accounts of numerous Syrian refugees eating wrong mushrooms and getting in trouble. 

Here's a pic of Ideas in the hospital, 2 weeks ago, where he had to stay for 2 days after a delicious meal of mushrooms he had gathered himself in the Netherlands. He recovered quickly, by the way.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


In the lunch break of writing sessions for the Ideas book, Ideas is starting to learn Dutch, instructed by yours truly

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Ideas makes a trip with shipping company Lampedusa, a project by Teun Castelein. The Prince Omar was abandoned at Lampedusa after it took more than 100 refugees from Libya and donated to Teun by the Italian government. 

Now it is run by a crew of refugees -and skipper Bob-, making trips on the Amsterdam canals. Ideas likes shipping company Lampedusa!

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Ideas phones his mother and father in Syria. The situation is getting worse. The government is increasing the pressure on villages to surrender their young men to join the army. To avoid fighting for the regime, many young men are leaving. They will have to be fast, there's not much time left before winter starts, the bouttrip to Greece will get more dangerous and countries like Hungary and Macedonia close their borders. This means there will be even more refugees from Syria coming over the Balkans in the coming weeks.

Monday, August 31, 2015

next camp

Ideas is transferred to another refugee camp, for the fourth time since he is in the Netherlands. In this camp people stay for a longer period of time. The scent of transpiration, exotic food and lysol (archaic cleaning product) is everywhere. In this room, about 25 square meters, Ideas stays with 3 others. For how long? There are people who live here for more than 2 years, waiting foor appropriate housing.


The day the Austrian authorities announced 71 people -probably all Syrian- died in the abandoned truck on the highway between the Hungarian border and Vienna, Ideas -for the first time in his life- gets money from an ATM. From his own bank account.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Yesterday Ideas got his status. The Ideas team congratulates Ideas and hopes he gets the opportunity to work on his dreams. We will keep you posted on what happens next.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Today, Ideas starts his procedure for real. He has his first meeting with his lawyer. Good luck Ideas!

Friday, July 31, 2015

food in refugee camp Gilze Rijen

Ideas gets a message from the AZC in Gilze Rijen. 

The people there get ready made food that's hardly edible instead of a budget to make their own food. Like in a lot of places elsewhere. They asked the mayor to help them. He threathened to withdraw their applications for a refugee status. Meanwhile the food ends up in containers. 

There has to be a simple solution.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ideas says thanks


This shocking picture is on the Syrian WhatsApp group: a refugee hung himself in Berlin after his application for his refugee status failed because his fingerprints had been taken along the road to Germany. According to the 2nd treaty of Dublin a refugee has to apply for 

asylum in the first country of entry in the EU (where fingerprints have been taken for the Eurodac database).

Monday, July 13, 2015

royal palace

In this little column in an Amsterdam local newspaper someone wonders whether or not the former Dutch royal palace in the village of Soestdijk can be used as a refugee camp. It's been empty for a while now. 

Coincidentally Ideas already checked it out.

He's not impressed by the architecture but the rooms are spacious and the current state of maintainance of the palace is about the same as the other refugee camps. It will do. It's time for a royal gesture of a royal family that's for 90% built from foreign -blue- blood.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

trains from the south

Message from one of our readers from Munchen: trains from the south crammed with refugees. The police waits for them.

retour afzender

For once a Dutch post: the graduation work of Lou Muuse, about the procedure Ideas is about to start in a couple of weeks. look at the photo's of refugee camps in the Netherlands.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


We visit Ideas in the refugee camp.

He shares his building with a diverse group of people. With very different stories. Common denominator: horror. Like M. from Iraque, fluent in Russian, who during his adventurous life traveled until the Ukraine, lived there for a while, fled from the war to eventually flee from Libia. In the same boat from Libia was D. from Africa. Came in a van through the sahara. When his fellow travelers died of heat and thirst, the armed smugglers dumped the bodies from the driving truck to the side of the road. D. claims the sahara is even more dangerous than the Mediterranean Sea.
Detail of the boatride (confirmed by both): the, also armed, smugglers stash the Africans in the lower deck, where there's more heat (motor) and less air. The whites go on the upper deck with a higher chance of survival. They were all lucky: Frontex was waiting for them outside of the territorial waters of Libia to rescue them. 
On the photo the food ration in the camp: bread, slices of cheese and meat, fruit, drinks and one warm halal meal a day. Everybody offered to share with us.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


This is the camp where ideas is spending his days now. The atmosphere is not bad, the facilities are old but there's enough space. 

There's one or actually two minor details: there are fighterplanes that fly over he camp very very low. 
The direct function of that eludes me. But it upsets many of the over a 1000 people in the camp. 

On top of that, as we posted before, there's a shooting range of the Dutch army very near. Every now and then they ratatata and scare the hell out of the already traumatized refugees.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

camp in the woods

The spokesperson of refugees in Germany contacts Ideas: they're in a camp in the woods near Roth

and the conditions are bad. 

He calls it worse than a prison with walls constructed of fences with plastic foil stuck to it.

 Ideas is depressed and gets philosophical. We all do sometimes.

Monday, July 6, 2015


Ideas goes to sleep late in the refugee centre. It's hot and it's quiet in the hallway. 

In a nightly chat session he tells me the story of his roommate who paid lots of money to be brought from Greece to the UK. 
After a long ride he was dropped in front of the refugee centre of Ter Apel in the Netherlands. He kept asking people: where he was.

We fly for next to nothing to every destination in Europe. Some people pay thousands to get somewhere the don't want to be.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

refugee camp from hell

A link from Jo van der Spek about the camp where Ideas has been detained in Greece. As we posted yesterday: the situation on the Greek islands is spinning out of control. A sustainable solution has to be found real soon.for the refugee crisis.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

thousands are sailing

While Ideas is struggling for wifi we get a comment on the column I wrote for the Dutch Amnesty magazine about the island where I met Ideas for the first time: Lesbos.
 The situation has worsened since we were there in the beginning of May. Literally thousands are arriving now every day on the beaches of Lesbos. The call for a solution gets louder.