“When I told my mom I wanted to quit my studies she wasn’t mad or disappointed. I explained her that I needed more freedom in order to grow and she understood. I created a plan, I wrote everything down and she promised to financially support me for a whole year. I promised her that I would be able to stand on my own feet after that. That year I was able to experiment and try out new things. I started writing, presenting and making short films. Soon I discovered that I love sharing stories and film became my favorite medium to do so. That year led me to become a freelance filmmaker. My office is here right around the corner and I come here to this little spot a few times a day. To me this is the most beautiful place in Amsterdam. Whenever I am editing and I need a little break I sit here to think. I try to remind myself on daily basics what I am thankful for. It is so easy to lose yourself in the every day chaos. I personally am most thankful for the freedom that I have. That I can come and sit here whenever I want to. In a way that freedom is a present given by my mother because she always believed that I was able to make the right decisions for myself.”

‘’I also I managed to make things right with my mother. I’m still grateful that she decided to kick me out of the house when I was 17. If I had stayed in old neighborhood I don’t think I would have changed. Things were going better until I found out she was diagnosed with cancer. She received treatment but the medication caused her to have several psychoses. Even though the cancer got removed the medication damaged her entire mental health. Whenever she would have an mental attack she would threaten family members or buy really expensive things which got her in financial trouble. She was no longer who she used to be. Every time she would mess up I was there to fix it. During that time, I picked up my love for fantasy books but this time I started writing stories myself. Again it became a sort of escape. I created a saga which contains out of seven books and it’s about a post apocalyptic world, where the rich people live with the last remaining wealth, several humans have evolved. This evolution enables them to gain animal abilities, without losing their human shape. These so called humanimals, humans and cybernetic enhanced people will fight for the fate of the world. Whenever I write I feel free. After 6 years my mother’s mental health was getting better until we heard that her tumor wasn’t removed properly. The cancer had spread and there was nothing they could do for her. On the 9th of may 2015 she passed away and I still miss her every day.
Over the years I have learned to accept each emotion that comes along. In our society we are not ashamed to smile but it feels like a taboo to cry. I believe that the feeling of happiness is not superior to the feeling of sadness. All emotions have the right to exist within me and I am at peace with all of them.“

“Abortion was never an option for me so when I found out I was pregnant it was obvious I was going to keep the baby. For a very long time I was afraid to tell my family, especially my grandmother who practically raised me. I’m 23 years old and a lot of people think that when you are my age you should live life and party all the time. The truth is that I am enjoying life, just with her by my side.”

Together with my younger sister and pregnant mother we fled from Iran. I was only eleven years old but I remember everything very well. The first thing I saw when we arrived at the airport was a young couple making out in public. Something I wasn’t used to. We were placed in a refugee center and applied for citizenship. We kept moving from one refugee center to another without any clarity about the future. That changed autumn 2005. It was six a clock in the morning when the police woke us up. They said we had to leave the country and for the meantime we were placed in a detention center which is a fancy word for prison. The days passed by and after seven weeks they decided to review our case. When you go through something like that it’s hard to believe in the future. One year after we got released we received our residence permits. Slowly I started to move forward and make plans. I auditioned for theater school in Maastricht and surprisingly I got accepted. Even though I’m not a refugee anymore it still influences my life and also my work as an actor. For example, I’m now working on a production called ‘Nobody Home’. The title says it all. When you are a refugee you don’t belong anywhere.

“I try to teach my son that life is about give and take.”
“How do you teach him that?”
“Every week we put some items we don’t need any more on the bench. We leave them there for others to take home. In the beginning people only took stuff but after a while they started to bring things like books and toys to the bench for others to take.”