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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]
Earlier I reviewed the first part of this series in which we hear about Faraj Al Baadani's family in Yemen. This second part is about his migration to California, forty years after his mother migrated from Vietnam to Yemen.
In 2014, his mother asked her sister, who had married an American man, if her son could live with them for a while. He can, on a student visa.
We end up in a little tiny town called Dixon. It's a very conservative city. I mean, I'm probably like the third Middle Easterner there. You get some looks walking out the street, you definitely feel that they're not very – comfortable, I'd say, or just familiar with having someone of my skin tone walking around. The cops are not the biggest fans of me.
Meanwhile, the war had broken out in Yemen and most of his family members lose their jobs and can no longer sustain him. After a while, he receives temporary protected status (TPS), designated for Yemenis living in the US, so he can work. However, working 60, 70 hours a week for $1,500 a month is barely enough to pay for the classes.
Although in 2018 TPS designation for Yemen is extended, Faraj’s status does not get renewed. Now, he can't work legally and his debt rises to $15,000.
Faraj is 23 years old and he’s not sure what to do next. He’s losing his legal status in America, but can’t go back to Yemen.I mean, I don't even talk to my family about my hardships and difficulties here. At the end of the day I will be complaining about material things, while they're complaining about well, there's an air strike next to the house, the house just shook, windows just blew. We have no food, people are just getting sick, people are dying.
Next, we hear about Faraj donating stem cells – for free – to save someone’s life and getting extremely sick from this.
While Faraj has vague plans to go to Canada, mutual friends of this podcast's producer and his family then manage to pay off his debts. His student visa gets renewed and he hopes to start studying engineering.