‘At the end of 2015 I fled from Syria to the Netherlands with my parents and my brother. When I arrived I was almost 18, but I couldn’t get into a school. That is why I took courses in English, mathematics and physics, so that I could follow a higher vocational education in architecture. Unfortunately, due to circumstances I had to stop. Then I decided to focus on sports and to make a career in it.
“Now I work as a cleaner. I mainly work for a care group, in the care center, in the office or in people’s homes. I do that seven days a week, about four to six hours a day.
“Working every day is no problem for me, I have a lot of stamina. It’s fine work, almost therapeutic, that I can do at my leisure. I enjoy working with my handy, and it is easy to combine with training. Before, for example, I worked in a thrift shop and as a bicycle delivery person, which was much more stressful.
“My big dream is to become a professional boxer or trainer, I have noticed that I have a talent for it. I work for it every day: I run a lot, train several times a day in short sessions and watch my diet. If all goes well I will start amateur competitions soon.
“In addition, I also have hobbies related to sports that I can turn into my job. I am creative and make boxing gloves myself, for example. I want to start a company for that.”
‘I am not stingy, but I am frugal. For example, once a week I go to a large supermarket where I buy everything. I do this because I want to save money for my parents, who gave up everything to come here. My two brothers and I want them to really enjoy life, not work and worry. And they succeed, they enjoy our allotment garden and occasionally go on holiday.
“I earn good money from cleaning, but it is not enough to be able to do more for my family, for example find a bigger house. That is why it is also a goal for me to become financially independent, for example by setting up my own company.
“I am also saving for a bigger plan. My father used to have his own restaurant in Syria. He gave that up to run. He would never say it because he doesn’t want to put any pressure on us, but I’m sure his own business is still his dream. I want to work so that he can start a restaurant again, that motivates me.
“I myself do fun things now and then, then I go to a friend in Germany or a day with the family to the beach, but I’m more working and boxing than having fun. Achieving my goals leads to a much greater pleasure.”
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper on June 5, 2023.