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I am a Dutch journalist, writer and photographer and cover topics such as human rights, poverty, migration, environmental issues, culture and business. I’m currently based in The Hague, The Netherlands, and frequently travel to other parts of the world. I have also lived in Tunisia, Egypt, Kuwait and Dubai.
My work has been published by Al Jazeera English, BBC, The Atlantic's CityLab, Vice, Deutsche Welle, Middle East Eye, The Sydney Morning Herald, and many Dutch and Belgian publications.
I hold an MA in Arabic Languages and Cultures from Radboud University Nijmegen and a post-Master degree in Journalism from Erasmus University Rotterdam. What I love most about my work is the opportunities I get to ask loads of questions. Email: [email protected]
At the Kerning Cultures podcast, you can listen to stories the makers – "children of the Middle East" – want to discuss "with our friends over warm cups of coffee on cozy sofas."
This fascinating episode is about the little-known intertwining of history between Yemen and Vietnam, told by one family to producer Dana Ballout.
24-year-old Faraj Al Baadani is a Yemeni Vietnamese living in California. He was born and raised in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. However, his mother is from Vietnam.
She was part of a community in South Vietnam with Yemeni descendants or connections to Yemen. When the communists from the north took over, they feared for their lives, because of their ties to allies of the US.
In 1976, the then Yemeni president secretly brought a group of 500 families of Yemeni Vietnamese, including Faraj’s mother, to camps in northern Yemen.
They looked different than other women in the country and they were used to working. Of course this wasn’t normal for women in Yemen at the time, so they were cat-called, they were – people called them names, verbally, sexually harassed.
Faraj's mother married a Yemeni man.
My mom didn't wear the hijab and she dropped me off at school which caused a lot of controversies. I told them she's not from here which kind of gave out that I'm not full-bred Yemeni, that something... they would call it wrong. I just say different.
It became clear that there weren’t too many promising careers for people like Faraj: smart, trilingual, hardworking, but also not fully Yemeni. Besides, in the meantime, the war had broken out, so in 2015, Faraj’s family decided to send him to the US.
I'm looking forward to listening to the second part of this story about Faraj’s new life in America. It will be published in two weeks.