"As a new arrival it's important to make contact with people. I liked being able to help other refugees in this way. After seven months this is why I decided to work as a social guidance worker for a VluchtelingenWerk (Dutch Council for Refugees) office in Naaldwijk. I speak fluent Kurdish, Arabic and English and a bit of Dutch. I help strangers who had been homed in the Westland to get to know their neighbourhood. We visited the neighbours to explain who their new neighbour is and where they come from. I did my best to explain to the newcomer how it all works. I did this for a year and a half. Unfortunately, now that I have an internship I no longer have time for this."
Mustafa found his current place at greenhouse producer KUBO through a friend: "I have twelve years of experience as an architect. I'm skilled in engineering and worked in Syria, designing two large crossings, among others. I have had an internship here for three months, in which I work for two and a half days: on the other days I watch the children so my wife can go to school to learn Dutch. The work is different, but I love doing it. At the start I visited all departments of the factory to get to know them. I have been working as a designer in the main office for the last two weeks. My internship will be finished in three months, after which I hope to get a job at KUBO."
"The Dutch language can't just be learnt by following lessons, you also need to talk to people and read a lot," says Mustafa. "I mainly spoke English at the start. But six months ago I decided to only speak Dutch. When someone started speaking in English, I explained that I would rather speak Dutch so that I could improve. It causes some difficult situations, but I always try. When I go to the doctor for my daughter, I research what I want to talk to the doctor about first. I write down what I want to say. This helps the conversation run smoothly."
Mustafa is enthusiastic about the Dutch system: "Take social security for example: if you're out of work, you can claim benefits, but if you're working you have to pay taxes. When I arrived here I had to live off something, so that money is important. But I also believe it's important to be able to give back. As an employee I make my own salary and can pay taxes. This gives other people in the Netherlands the same opportunity as we got."