(post by Marieke Helmus; photo: Ibtehal and her son)

Marieke is impressed
Iftar, 29 March, annex of the St. Anthony of Padua Church, City Centre, Nijmegen

This atmospheric evening remains engraved in my memory by the enormous turnout of newcomers and the very enthusiastic efforts of everyone who contributed to this evening.

What a whoppers these are:
Chef Amr al Bokaie and his team, who cook a delicious meal for a hundred people.

Ibtehal Al-dholay, who previously worked as a TV presenter in Yemen, talks about the goal of the evening: ‘Connecting and strengthening each other’s well-being and health together.’ Her daughter, Tamar, takes her role as a nanny very seriously.

Feras Faysal, an international health specialist and pharmacist, is the coordinator of the evening. He works with my colleague Katrien Pouls.

Artist Mohamed Yousry and colleague Abdelrahman get the whole room in cheerful interaction with their quick passing on drawing assignment.

Mohammed and Raslan enrapture the audience with Islamic Nasheed and traditional Arabic songs.

Ronald, a social worker and living in the asylum seekers’ centre, helped to realise this large turnout through app groups and personal invitations.

The Iftar is organized by the Dar al Yasmin Huis van Jasmijn, #groengezondeninbewegingnijmegen and Pharos foundation. Corné van Iersel, who founded the foundation together with Basima, tells the audience that it is an organization of and for newcomers who want to find their way in Nijmegen. Many newcomers give workshops and lessons to each other from this foundation. I have been working with Dar al Yasmin for four months to see if we can intertwine their offer on well-being and our offer on quitting smoking.

When the fast is broken, attendees give their opinions in different languages on what they need to reduce stress and improve their well-being. I tell the audience that I like to talk about smoking and stress. When I say that by smoking I also mean Shisha, Snuss and Vape, a laugh rolls through the room. Quite a few people come by for a good conversation.

My message: there is an enormous talent among refugees and status holders, who if they are given the space and resources can very well contribute to well-being and healthy living themselves.

Thanks for the beautiful photos, Luc Satter.

Marieke Helmus is the creator of the #Rookvrije Neighbourhood Approach by #Pharos and #GGDGHORNederland. She reports on an irregular basis about her encounters with #rookvrijewijkaanpakkers throughout the Netherlands. She is actively involved in the approach in various asylum seekers’ centres in Nijmegen.