"Bashar is now just part of the BIND team. He’s not a refugee, he’s not a ‘newbie,’ he’s just Bashar."
When Bas and Judith decided to start their own foundation in Zaandam, they had one goal: to create a social and cultural meeting place in which people of all backgrounds can come and learn from each other.
With a mission of “binding” people together through creativity and common interests, they decided to transform an old, abandoned building into a renovated meeting place for entrepreneurs and creatives to work, collaborate, or just have a cup of coffee. Thus, Stichting BIND was born.
At the same time, Bashar, a Syrian native with a background in carpentry, water piping, heating and building, was looking for a way to get involved in his new home of Zaandam.
Bas and Judith wanted the organization to be inclusive to all people living in Zaandam, including the growing refugee population. So when it became legal for newcomers to volunteer, BIND initiated a partnership with NewBees.
“Here, there was nothing,” said Bas about the now partially renovated space. “It was all just concrete and dust, and Bashar is part of really building this place. Bashar came through NewBees, but it didn’t take long for him to just be ‘Bashar, a part of the team.’”
“When you work closely with those who’ve experienced the situation in Syria firsthand, it becomes clear that the way we as Dutch people are informed about the situation is completely different from the way they have experienced it,” he said.
"Take Bashar as an example. He’s going to lessons, he’s practicing Dutch, he’s volunteering, he’s active. The reason why he’s here is not a pretty reason; it’s not a holiday. So there’s a lot of weight on his shoulders because of where he is. The only way to fight that is to be active, be positive, try things, and be open, because we have to be open to the stories and the presence of people who come here. But the people who come here must also be open to understand us, to participate in how we function and how we think — not agree, you don’t have to agree. That’s not an issue. To disagree is perfectly fine, but be open. Be active. Like Bashar.”
“NewBees is really the connection between two worlds. As soon as the connection is there, it can be like this. Bashar is now just part of the BIND team. He’s not a refugee, he’s not a ‘newbie,’ he’s just Bashar. It should be like that. The fact that the connection was made through NewBees is very valuable.”
Read Bashar's story and experience working with Stichting BIND here.