Central Africa Republic

This is
Amelia Fernhout (1990)

Country of origin
Central Africa Republic

In the Netherlands since

Lives in

Fashion designer

Would like to 
Present her collection in the Amsterdam Fashionweek

First impression of Amsterdam

The crowd in Schiphol Airport

'The warmth, love, family, red sand, dusty and even the smell I'll never.'

Can't get used to

'The cold climate: I'm always chilly.'

“I didn’t know anything about the Netherlands except that it was cold and snowed. When I was six my mother told me we were moving to Amsterdam. She had fallen in love with a Dutch man four years earlier. He was making his way across Africa at the time. We left here in 1996 and I didn’t really understand what was going on. I thought we were only going a way for a short time and would come back to the Central African Republic. It was hard to say goodbye to my grandmother; I was very attached to her. I realised I wouldn’t see ‘meme’ for a long time. It only really hit me after a week and I had a tough time dealing with it.

n my thick winter coat we arrived in the Netherlands in 1996. We must have stood out in our winter coats while most people walked about in light clothing and sandals. It took some getting used to, and was immediately apparent that I was somewhere else. I had never seen a flat before. In Bangui where I grew up I hardly ever went outside. I didn’t go to school and would follow my grandmother around all day long. If she went to do the laundry, I went too. If she had to cook, I was right behind her. In Amsterdam I had to start school straight away. I was really scary and not used to having so many children around me. I was very shy and afraid of everything.

After two weeks I was invited to a birthday party. My Dutch father brought me there and I couldn’t understand anyone. Luckily there was someone there who spoke some French and could translate for me. I looked around in silence, smiled occasionally and joined in. I quickly learned musical chairs. I was very sharp, and picked everything up really quickly. Within a month I was speaking Dutch.

I feel completely at home here. I have been allowed to develop my own character. I love the bustling, multicultural city, as well as fashion. The only thing I can’t stand is all the bikes. I can ride one, but I get the feeling that everyone gets a bit crazy when they’re on their bikes and there don’t seem to be any rules. I’ve not returned to the Central African Republic because of the war. I would love to, but it’s not safe there. Luckily, my grandmother now lives in France.”

2 people in Amsterdam have the Central African nationality


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