“I came to Amsterdam in 1980. My daughter lived here and was getting married She asked me to come to the wedding, and then asked me if I would like to stay. I said, “We can try it”. I didn’t have much in Suriname, except for my two children. I had divorced my husband and my eldest son died when he was only 10 years old. Other members of my family, including my sister, already lived in the Netherlands. I met my second husband in Amsterdam, when I was shopping in one of the supermarkets. We started chatting, and gradually got to know each other.
My husband has since died of a heart attack. One morning he went to work as usual but wasn’t feeling so good so his boss sent him home. Halfway home, he got off the bus and sat on a bench. A passer by saw him there and took him to the hospital. At 5pm I was expecting him to be home. He was never late. Then the hospital called, and asked me if I could come right away. They didn’t say why. I called a friend and she took me there in her car. When I arrived at the hospital he had already died. Since then, I have remained single.
I love Amsterdam and would never want to live anywhere else. Honestly! I am a little afraid of the rise in crime. It scares me. I don’t watch the Most Wanted messages anymore on the TV. I’ve lived in the same apartment complex for thirty years now, and love it, although the neighbours aren’t as friendly as they used to be. They might have a quick chat when they see you, but no-one looks out for each other anymore. If someone’s not been seen for a few days, nobody notices.
The Netherlands does not care for the elderly very well. Many of the older generation here, who went through the world war, are shut up in care homes. They should be able to stay in their own homes, but who would look after them? I live alone. Once a week someone comes to help with the cleaning; but I do my own shopping, washing and ironing. As long as I can live on my own, I will. Once I can’t, I’ll move to a retirement home. I don’t want my children to take on the responsibility of taking care of their elderly mother.”
5236 people in Amsterdam have the Surinamese nationality