This is an article in collaboration with the Journalism class of 2022/23, who have sent in their submissions for an assignment inspired by Humans of New York.
Chiranjeev (44) – “I’m a workaholic; I like working here. You will find me almost seven days here. This always keeps me on my toes, and, of course, there are always new challenges. The best thing is when you get very positive feedback from your client. It motivates you to work more and grow more. From the day we started off, I’ve been really focused on this business from day one. I’ve gone into every detail of the shop, every nook and corner of the store, every inquiry done by the clients. What’s good for the store? What’s not? It all has been a learning process. That also comes with sacrifices. Honestly, I’ve not been to India for the past ten years; I’ve not gone home. I just take three or four days off for holidays a year. Nothing more. Nothing less. I’ve seen my parents growing up like that. Most of all, the people in Asia, India… you see them doing the hard labour. The pain they go through working for their kids. For the family. That comes into your blood.”
Recorded by Lisa Jesudas
Jos (55) – “Yesterday I had to put my cat down. That really hurts a lot. She had a cat disease called Feline Leukaemia Virus, which is a contagious virus. Apparently she had that in her blood from the moment she was born, but it has only recently been discovered. It is a disease that for a long time goes unnoticed and then strikes very suddenly. She was still very young. On the first of October she would have turned two and a half.
“I was going to go on vacation, but I had to cancel that. It is a really difficult time for me. The worst thing is when you wake up in the morning. The first thing you see is your cat, but now she is gone. It is constantly on my mind. I write for MUG Magazine. So I am trying to keep busy by picking that up again and trying to find stories. I read a lot and go on long walks. That is what keeps me distracted.
I love animals, but now that is at a dead point: my passion is gone. Maybe I will get another cat, but I do need to wait a few months with that. This is really affecting me, emotionally, a lot. First I thought about the vacation that was cancelled, but now that does not matter to me at all. The worst thing is that my neighbours’ cat also stayed with me for a while, but now there is a chance that my cat has infected their cat. That would be awful. Weirdly enough, during covid times I was never affected by the virus and now after covid times, I realise how horrible viruses are.”
Recorded by Chynna Bong A Jan
Jenneke (51) – “Very recently, I decided to quit my job and to work for myself in my own practice with children with disabilities to rewire the brain with exercises. I started as a nurse and after being a nurse, I started to study pedagogy. I worked for 18 years in a rehabilitation centre for children who are officially handicapped and blind, but who also have challenges with movement. The things I did were more like symptoms, like medicine, you give something to fight the symptoms, but I would prefer to work in the base. I was a single mom and I had to move very often. I had not much money to feed my two children, so I could never make this step. And now they are living on their own in Leiden and studying in uni in Amsterdam. My son asked me ‘What do you prefer? Safety or freedom? Would you like to spend the next 20 years doing the same thing over and over again and not feeling happy? Or are you taking the risk?’ And I did. I started last summer with a boy of 12 years with autistic form and he could not stand on one leg. I had to set him in front of the door so you can lean back. And this summer his mother sent me a video that he is on a longboard skating. This is the kind of stuff I want to create for children. I would like to tell to parents: start as soon as possible and see what your child is like. And everything is okay; but if you deny it by covering it up – ‘there’s nothing wrong with my child’ – then maybe crucial months, weeks are lost.”
Recorded by Jola Gockel
Robert (54) – “I’m Robert Velds, fifty four, and I am a seafarer. Seafarers, in general, we are hardworking, honest, good people. The other professions I had in mind as a child were something to do with sports but definitely at sea was the most adventurous. My uncle had a sailing boat, but that is different. I spent 34 years at sea and we had some big accidents. Also, my first year as captain I had one suicide on board, it gets a bit sad. However, I am content and proud of my work. Also, my doggy! His name is Banjer and he has a bit of a sad history. He’s from Romania and spent years there in terrible shelters. He was first adopted here but his people died and he’s a bit stressed, so he attacks cats and other dogs. Other people always brought him back to the shelter but he’s adopted and with me now! People keep on telling you this but life goes super super quick and I’m warning you that it goes much faster than you will understand. I used to joke that five weeks ago, I was also 18. Enjoy life!”
Recorded by Tisha Banerjee
Find here previous Humans of Amsterdam Oost series: