“I was fourteen when I fled Moldavia for the Netherlands. I was with my mother, and we hadn’t really planned on coming here. We just wanted to get out of Moldavia. Unemployment was rife, and it’s an extremely corrupt country. If I wanted to continue studying my mother would have not only had to pay college fees, but also bribe the teachers so that I had at least a chance of getting good grades. What is an education worth, in these circumstances? We wanted to go to a place where our opinions counted, where you had the opportunity to make something of your life, and where you were better taken care of.
Making the risky journey to the West was worth it. We finally came to live in Amsterdam in 2005. I fell in love with this city straight away. I saw that people were well off here, and always busy doing something. Since our arrival I have travelled all over the Netherlands and don’t think much of it. Quiet places and closed communities. But here there’s always a smile on my face. It’s always buzzing, there’s amazing architecture, magical canals and lots of museums.
I’m most interested in the historic buildings. I often visit the Apollolaan and look at the architecture. I hardly recognise Zuid anymore, it has changed so much over the past eleven years, but I still think its development has made it a beautiful place. I’ve lived in Noord for the past six years and have watched the Centraal Station become totally transformed. I work in the building sector. I have my own building company and love to renovate monumental buildings. A building’s history is extremely important in these renovations; which mortar did they use, how hard is the stone, and what were the original methods of construction? I’m always learning something new. Everything in Moldavia was destroyed during the Second World War; it was bombed flat. It’s amazing that so much here has been left intact, and these survivors must be preserved.
I want to leave a legacy here for my children and grandchildren, but would want to be buried in Moldavia. Nothing depressing, just because the population here is already fit to bursting, flat, and 70% of it lies under sea-level. Moldavia has plenty of land, beautiful nature and mountains where shepherds wander with their sheep. I want to be buried under the wide, blue skies. Cremation is the norm in Holland, in Moldavia it’s just not done.
Well, at least that’s what I think now. You’re not the same person after thirty years. I also once said I’d never get a tattoo, or start smoking. I now sport two tattoos and I’m what’s considered a ‘social’ smoker.”
60 people in Amsterdam have the Moldovan nationality