Mary remains grateful no matter what

Mary - Don't let others decide - aeuoeu

Name:  Mary 
Age: 33
Country of origin: Afghanistan

When being asked how the Dutch could help her feel more comfortable, Mary responds by telling how she would like to thank everyone for being helped this much already. Being thankful, and humbly counting her blessings in doing so, is exactly what makes Mary’s story so powerful.

What is your opinion about the Netherlands, Mary?
First and foremost, it’s a safe country, which was the main reason for coming here. Women have the same rights as men. Back where I come from, women are not allowed to work or study. Marriages are arranged without a woman’s consent. Additionally, ‘boyfriends’ were a no-fly zone. I used to have a Nigerian boyfriend - I could have been killed if they would have known this. Here, I can love whoever I want to love.

Plus, the Dutch are very helpful. A family from here has helped me during my first steps in the Netherlands, for which I remain grateful for the rest of my life. I even call them my Dutch mom and dad. They are God’s gift, without a doubt.  

Who else helped you a lot in becoming the woman you are today?
This may sound a bit strange, but Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez have definitely inspired me. I’ve read both their bios. They’re both strong and independent women, who have been through a lot and now rule the world. I have also been through a lot myself, and although not ruling the world, I kept continuing without giving up.  

Mary - Don't let others decide - aeuoeu

Would that also be the advice you would give to others?
Yes, definitely. Keep doing what you’re doing and never give up. Eventually you’ll reach your goals. And to the Dutch I would like to ask to please be grateful for living in such a safe and beautiful country. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Speaking of goals, what are yours?
Getting a degree in social care, about which I am very passionate. Staying true to myself, without letting any culture or supposed norms intervene.

Mary - Don't let others decide - aeuoeu

Photography: Chavez van den Born
Supported by: Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland

Disclaimer: this interview was conducted in Dutch and has been translated and rewritten to English.