“I fell immediately in love with this city. Before I’d lived for a year in Lisbon, which is also a scenic place. But Amsterdam really grabbed my heart. I’ve now lived here longer than I ever lived in Cape Verde. I arrived here, and I was home. I immediately started to learn the language and because of this, integration was never a problem. The most important standards and values remain the same. Rules such as, ‘don’t touch what isn’t yours’.
Sadly, someone burgled my home last year. But I still feel safe here. I’m not going to run away; it could have happened anywhere. So I get on with life and don’t sit there feeling sorry for myself. And I don’t do anything stupid, either. If I travel on public transport into town and have a late night out, I’ll take a taxi home and not the night bus.
I’ve never felt discriminated against here. Colleagues sometimes say to me, “You never mention discrimination”. And I reply, ‘I’m Maria, you’re Jan, we talk to each other by name and not by colour”. I defend myself not with my colour, but with my character, with my strength and my wisdom. I always give someone the benefit of the doubt. We shouldn’t be negative about each other; everything will turn out alright in the end.
There’s never been a day that I haven’t worked. I’ve never received unemployment benefits. I’ve been working for twenty eight years for the same boss. I help in the community. I accept that I have to pay taxes. I’ve given a percentage of my end of year bonus and holiday money to good causes. I am an Amsterdammer and the Netherlands is my country. I love her!”
103 people in Amsterdam have the Cape Verdean nationality