Naleye

Cambodia

This is
Naleye Sultan Buddista (1963)

Country of origin
Cambodia

In the Netherlands since
1974

Lives in 
The Pijp

Profession
Visual Artist

Loves
Happy people

Would like to after his dead
Be embedded in an organic epoxy and put away in space

Cambodia in Amsterdam
 ‘The buddhist temple, nearby the Waag. Overthere I smell my childhood, this smell does a lot with me. The first them I went there I thought 'Ohjee I recognize this', the incense and sphere.'

“I was born in Cambodia. Via a few detours I arrived in the Netherlands when I was eleven. We had left just before Pol Pot’s horrific regime of terror began. My father was originally from Somalia and had been a successful businessman in Cambodia. Under Pol Pot’s regime all foreigners and intellectuals were exiled and so we left for my father’s homeland, Somalia. I lived there from my fifth year to my tenth. From a Buddhist culture I arrived into a Muslim one. That took some getting used to. At one point it became very unsafe to live there and we moved to Milan where one of my sisters had married an Italian. We then moved to Brussels where a brother lived. Finally, when I was eleven, we arrived in the Netherlands where another sister lived with her Dutch husband. She had told my mother, “Come to Holland, mum, with the boys”. And so we arrived in Leiden. Yet another language I had to learn. I now speak a lot of them. From Vietnamese to Italian, English, French and Dutch.


When I was twenty one I moved to Amsterdam and never left. Happily. I met my partner here and we have two sons ages fourteen and sixteen. I also have a son with my ex-partner. He’s twenty seven now and lives in New York, working as a model. So I have three beautiful sons and have built my life around them. I have become an artist, able to arrange my own working hours and be a proper father to my boys. I didn’t have that opportunity with my first son. I am always there for my two youngest, and we’re all very glad of that.

My mother still lives in Leiden. She’s become very old - ninety three. I go to look after here every week from Tuesday to Thursday. In Asia you look after your parents until they die.

I’ve lived in the Pijp for eighteen years and really like it here. My wife often says about me, “He’ll talk to anyone.” I just enjoy knowing how the Chinese neighbour is getting on. As a conceptual artist I prefer working with recycled material. I’ve worked as an advisor for MRP Development, one of the largest development groups in Holland, with central policies such as the ‘triple bottom line’ of Profit, People and Planet. It focuses on ecological urban farming.

But my biggest dream is to buy a castle in the south of France, with a herb garden and art workshop for others to go to on retreat.”

21 people in Amsterdam have the Cambodian nationality

180Nationalities.TextByStorySupply

Discover other stories