What is it like to be without a country? To be born a stateless refugee? To have no citizenship, no passport, no place to belong?
Mamoun Abu Naser knows. He was born a Palestinian refugee in Syria, and has lived as a stateless person for his entire life. In fact, he lived in Syria for almost 40 years without even the hope of a chance to become a citizen. Being stateless affected his ability to work and to travel. It made him feel like someone from another planet, belonging nowhere. He worried for his children’s future as stateless persons. It was a tenuous existence.
Then came the war, and things went from bad to worse. In fact, life got so bad that three years ago Mamoun and his wife decided that he should escape and try to find a safe place for the family in Europe. It was a heart-rending decision to leave his family behind, not least because he has three young daughters, and the baby was only two months old when he left.
Nevertheless, mindful of his family’s future, and their very safety, he made the hazardous journey out of Syria and thousands of kilometres across Europe to the Netherlands. Once here in Amsterdam, he applied for–and was granted–asylum. Two years ago we interviewed him on the Hiraeth podcast about his flight from Syria and life here as a refugee. Listen here.
A year and a half ago, Mamoun was joyfully reunited with his wife and daughters. Because his claim for asylum had been recognised, they were able to travel safely by plane to join him in the Netherlands. Since then, the family has built a life here, learning Dutch, making friends, and contributing to their community in positive ways. His daughters are thriving in their Dutch school, and Mamoun and his wife have both done significant volunteer work in the community. Mamoun is now working in a local school.
Mamoun has passed the civic integration exam and mastered the Dutch language, and after three years of legal residence as an asylum speaker, he is allowed to apply for Dutch citizenship, along with his daughters (his wife will be eligible in a year and a half, after she also achieves the three-year residency requirement). This is a momentous opportunity for Mamoun. Not only will Dutch citizenship give him a permanent right to stay, work, and build a life in his adopted country, it is also the cumulation of his lifetime dream to be a citizen, to have a passport, to truly belong in a place he can call home.
The only thing standing between Mamoun and his dream for citizenship is the expense of applying. Paperwork and associated costs for the application total €1200, a daunting sum for a young refugee family with a low income. His appointment is in October, so he has limited time to raise the money.
Moved by the plight of Mamoun and his family and their desire to be citizens of the country they now call home, we have organised a fundraiser to help them. 100% of the proceeds of the fundraiser will go directly to this family to help them achieve their dream of going from stateless to citizens. As I write this, we are nearly halfway to our fundraising goal.
If you would like to join people around the world in helping Mamoun and his famiy, please donate via the secure pledge website. If you aren’t able to donate, please share this post so we can reach more people.
Thank you for being a part of making a difference, one special family at a time.