The Netherlands | 2023 - now

Adam Dawuod

"Growing up in Palestine as a child, I remember looking out of my window and seeing the buildings of Gaza and the sea. I wondered what lay beyond the horizon. What was behind the water? What colors, cultures, and languages could there be? What existed beyond Gaza's borders? As a child, I could only imagine.

Being the largest prison in the world, it was not possible for anyone to enter or leave Gaza. My life experiences were colored by facing injustice, repression, violence, and wars. That was my environment.

To cope with these hardships, I started dancing. I practiced every day alone in my small room, without a teacher or a dance school. From early in the morning before going to school until the darkness of the night. Without electricity, dancing became my source of light.

I gradually learned to use my situation as fuel to dance and become the best version of myself, instead of being beaten down by it. After eight years of self-training and performing in the streets, schools, theaters, and on most stages in Gaza, my dream led me to dance beyond its borders.

In 2017, the Gaza border opened every three months for a period of three days. I seized the opportunity to participate in a competition called "Arab's Got Talent" in Beirut, Lebanon. I made it to the semifinals. This opportunity ignited a fire in me on a new level.

Upon returning home from Lebanon, the borders to Gaza were closed. An attempt to enter Gaza from Egypt also failed. After traveling back to Lebanon, my one-time visa did not allow me back in, so I slept at the airport for three nights, wondering what to do and where to go. I eventually found my way to Jordan, where I earned money by dancing for eight months, but I had no legal papers to stay. In 2018, I was selected for the "Summer Dance Forever" event in Amsterdam, and to me, this was a point of no return.

Through dance, I escaped reality. It took me across countries and freed me. Dancing healed me. It is my oxygen, my teacher, my compass, my guidance. Dancing is my everything. Dancing is my life. I cannot stop dancing".

"My life experiences were colored by facing injustice, repression, violence, and wars. That was my environment"

Ahmad Almouhmad

"I was born in Kuwait in 1989. After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, my family was forced to flee to Syria. We lived there for five years before we returned to Kuwait. Due to financial reasons, we moved back to Syria after some years, but my father continued working in Kuwait to financially support us. Between 2005 and 2008, I moved between Syria, to live and work with my father, and Kuwait, to study. Little did I know that I would leave Syria for good in 2008.

Due to the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011, staying in Kuwait became impossible because I carried Syrian papers and the Syrian embassy in Kuwait refused to renew my passport in 2015. I had to leave both countries to avoid being deported to Syria in order to serve the Syrian military.

At first, my plan was to leave Kuwait legally. I applied for a Schengen Visa at the Spanish embassy, which got rejected due to again, my Syrian papers. The alternative was to leave by using a tourist visa, which allowed me to take an airplane to Istanbul. Initially, I planned to stay there but life was not easy with my background. I faced the reality that the Turkish authorities could force me to go back to Syria so I knew I had to move as far away from the region as possible.

With a rubber boat, I reached the Greek island of Chios. For two years I lived in a camp before I found a chance to make it here, The Netherlands. This is where my healing process started. I met Kelly, a Dutch girl. We became parents of a beautiful boy. Next year I will most likely receive my Dutch passport which will allow me to visit my family, I have not seen my mother for over 15 years.

Along the way, I have learned a priceless lesson: You always have a choice. I choose not to live a harmful life to myself or others, I choose to live in peace. I refused to be the restless victim and a worrier but to be a patient fighter and a warrior. I am grateful for my process, and after everything I have been through: I would do it all again. I am up for any challenge in life.

I think I have become a soldier after all".

"I am grateful for my process, and after everything I have been through: I would do it all again. I am up for any challenge in life."

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