“What I dream about? I don’t dream, I’m just going to do it!”

“What I dream about? I don’t dream, I’m just going to do it!”

“In Aleppo I worked as a pharmacist, here in Groningen I am a student again. That took some getting used to, but that’s just the way it is. Here there is freedom and I appreciate that very much. I’m studying hard to get the right qualifications so I can work again. I’m learning Dutch now so that in September I can start with the Master’s in Medical Pharmaceutical Sciences, at the Groningen University and the UMCG hospital. I think it’s the right choice for me.” Mustafa lives in an apartment in Selwerd, on the Eikenlaan. It is a tidy house, with a lot of light and even a study. The wallpaper with flowers would not have been his first choice, but it was already there, and, he says, it actually looks quite nice. He does not have a lot of contact with the fellow residents of his building. “I think there would be more interaction if we were are a bit more similar.”

Mustafa’s parent live close by, in Paddepoel. “I have dinner with them every day. My father got very sick  a few months ago and had to undergo major heart surgery. He’s doing fine again now. Healthcare in the Netherlands is very well organized. People are equal here, everybody is helped well. I’m glad he’s recovered and back home with my mother again. I also have two brothers: Bassel, he lives in Schwerin in Germany and has studied Biotechnology. And my other brother Maged lives in Brest in France. He is a biomedical engineer. He did not come to France as a refugee, but on a scholarship and has stayed there ever since. We are in touch regularly. A while ago my brothers were here because of my father’s operation. Yes, we’re actually quite the ‘medical-family’!”

A number of doctors from the UMCG hospital launched an initiative together with Humanitas to help Syrians in Groningen who have a medical profession. They meet every week to discuss what’s new in the medical field. “They help us by talking about the way things work here. That helped me a lot. Through their network I have been able to take a look around and talk to colleagues. Such a network is incredibly important. But they also help with the diplomas, the regulations and the choices at the university. This way everyone in our group has a future again. A future that appeared to have been destroyed by the war in Syria.”

Mustafa sends a picture of himself posing  with some megaliths. “I was in Noordlaren with a friend. I really liked them, those stones! Groningen is a beautiful city but I think it’s too small for me. For my career I may have to move to a bigger city. What I dream about?” Mustafa laughs modestly. “I don’t dream! I’m just going to do it.”

At home with Mustafa Naasan (28)


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