I often think about how the state of mind of those people must be. The period before they flee, the journey, their worries, but above all their hopes. Hope for a place to process, forget and be happy again.
They endured so much to get here and I would like to offer them a welcome with open arms here.
I was six when my parents invited a young Hungarian refugee to stay with us one summer. It was exciting to meet this boy who spoke a foreign language and silently watched everything that was going on around him. But he was a quick learner, and soon we could laugh and joke together. He spent many summers with us. I am now sixty years old and we are still in contact. Later, my parents also took an adult man into their home. They put him through medical school. But after he graduated, he just left and we never saw him again. So that can also happen.
Oh, Syrian food is delicious! It is so enriching to have a guest like Sara in our home. We knew very little about Syria, but now we know and understand so much more. We listen to her, we philosophise, discuss things, laugh and cry together. Our seven year old daughter has started giving Sara Dutch lessons: she makes drawings of things and teaches her words. Recently she said ‘When you get your own house, can I still see you?
In the 90's I had two Yugoslav guests. Of course you have to adapt, but it also has many beautiful sides. Also for my children: for example, they saw how the guests were not allowed to go to school and learned to appreciate their education as a result (note: children of residence permit holders are allowed to go to school). I really feel that we and my children have become richer people.