Helping Hands – Part 1

Author Ali Raja

A few years ago, my mother asked me to help a woman she knew from the mosque.

I was 28 years old and the woman, Miryam, was 34. She was an immigrant and her husband had divorced her because she could not have children. For years, she lived alone in a small social housing unit. She struggled with bills, language, maintenance, and so on because her Dutch was not very good and of course she did not understand the system.

In the Netherlands, you can get a lot of grants and social assistance. I finally managed to get many grants for her. By writing many letters and spending a lot of time making various phone calls, I managed to have her rent lowered and arrange for her apartment to be renovated and better insulated.

She was really grateful and asked me if I could help her friend, Sarah. Sarah was 26, divorced and struggling with the very same problems. I helped her too as I was able to find solutions to her problems.

The two women were and are always will be beautiful and I loved them both.

On my advice, they started taking free evening classes to learn the Dutch language, and I helped them with their homework. After that, they became more independent and needed less help.

Despite my help, they still struggled to save money because their incomes were low and rent was a high percentage of their expenses.

Miryam had the idea to move with Sarah and share the expenses. But their two apartments were single-room only and crappy. After a few months, I found a house with 4 bedrooms, a small garden in the front, a large garden in the back. A bathroom with toilet on the 2nd floor and a toilet on the ground floor. The rent was not very high, because the house was built in 1920, in a rotten neighborhood, and at that time there was no good public transportation in this area.

Me, my family and my friends helped them move. We painted the house, put up wallpapers, etc. A friend has found a job for everyone in his company. The work was hard but it brought in a lot more money. Since they worked not too far from home they saved money travelling by bike rather than paying for public transportation.

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