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“I am awesome”

Text: David Nys

Naomi and Erik were certain: they wanted to host a couple or a family at their home. Their guesthouse above the garage offers a lot of privacy, but there was also a risk of loneliness if someone were to stay there alone. Thankfully matchmaker Wendy found the perfect match in a cheery couple.  In this article, communications officer David talks about how the four became friends for life.

Musa (48) and Sukran (47) are both teachers and originally from Turkey. They worked abroad for a while but after their passports weren’t renewed, they didn’t want to return because of the political climate in the country. At the end of 2021, they came to the Netherlands hoping to make a fresh start here. Their daughter still lives abroad.

This year, Takecarebnb matched them with Naomi and Erik from Rottevalle. “Guests are often afraid of dogs,” says Wendy. “Most dogs in their home country are street or guard dogs.” Musa and Sukran were a little nervous at first to live with guest dog Buddy, but soon they loved him. They even took him for walks by themselves regularly.

Concerts and bike rides

Being able to give each other freedom and independence were aspects that both couples could appreciate in each other. From day 1, Musa and Sukran already cycled to Drachten on their own, 7 kilometres away. The couple could also really appreciate the privacy of their separate space, because before their stay they had to share their living space with multiple families. Both the guests also did many things together with Naomi and Erik. Going to concerts, bicycle tours (first on the back of Naomi’s bike, then independently), a visit to the church with coffee after... And when their hosts had family for a visit, the guests stopped by for a friendly chat.

Donald Duck without a dictionary

I noticed that Musa and Sukran speak Dutch very well, especially since they haven’t lived in the Netherlands for long. Some typically Dutch expressions pass by. Komkommertijd (period with little news), appeltje-eitje (easy-peasy), helaas pindakaas (too bad), they know them all. Sukran tells about the first Dutch sentence she learned from an employee at the reception centre. “Ik ben een topper (I am awesome)”. It is touching to hear these words spoken by her with so much pride.

Still, it wasn’t easy to learn Dutch. The municipality they are matched to only lets status holders start the official language course once they have their own residence. “It’s a pity that our civic integration ‘stood still’ while we didn’t have our own house. Our age also made it a little difficult to learn a new language”, says Musa. He has a clear goal in mind: “I want to be able to read Donald Duck books without a dictionary next to me.” Luckily, Naomi was prepared to find them help. “I organise many language initiatives myself, so I quickly found people who could help my guests learn Dutch.” Through Rika, one of those people, Musa and Sukran started volunteer work at the Dorcas shop in Drachten, where they cycled to every Saturday come rain or shine. They wanted to dedicated themselves to helping others.

Building a life

Recently Musa and Sukran have gotten their own place. Naomi jokes that it looks a little bare. They still have a lot to decorate. But it seems like the two guests have all the tools at hand to be able to build a pleasant life in the Netherlands. Staying with Naomi and Erik has certainly helped and the two couples contact each other regularly. And the stack of Donald Duck books? Naomi will bring them along soon!