Salifu’s radiant smile makes you happy. He is sitting on the couch at Villa Vrede, leafing through the magazines we’ve been given by a hairdresser. He still hardly speaks Dutch, because he’s from Guinea, a small country in West-Africa. In this case it’s lovely to just leaf through a Cosmopolitan or a Story.
Salifu arrived here 13 months ago on an oil tanker. For three weeks he was hidden on the boat with a lot of fellow countrymen before he arrived in the Netherlands. He doesn’t tell much about the journey, but he is glad to be here now.
This young man, 24 years old, has a surprisingly good mood when you consider the way he lives here. He doesn’t have a residence and regularly sleeps in Toevlucht, but he can only stay there a maximum of 21 days. In the daytime he seeks out warm spots and scrapes his meals together. Sometimes he goes to Catherijnehuis, but he doesn’t always feel safe there. He knows the police watch around there.
Villa Vrede is a place where he clearly feels at home. When we opened the doors in February, he was here right away – a game of table football, a bit of dinner and a game. But he prefers to be active; Salifu wants to play sports, learn Dutch and learn new skills. Things we are trying to organise in time to come. He helps out a lot and is always the first person to lend a hand with doing the dishes, cleaning the toilet etc.
What does he think about the Netherlands? ‘It’s so nice here!’, says Salifu. So much better than in Guinea, where there are no jobs, hardly any education and often it’s not safe to be out on the streets.His situation here is difficult too, but people are friendly and most of the time he succeeds in finding something to eat and a place to sleep.
Salifu lives day by day and doesn’t look too far ahead of him. As an optimist he knows for sure that he’ll have an income and living space together with a wife and children around the time he’ll be 26. We hope and pray with him.