I stepped in the train at Amsterdam Centraal today to go to a rehearsal in Lelystad, and was sitting by the entrance so as to keep eye on my folding bike, when a relatively young (25-30?) man with a friendly appearance stepped in and caught my eye. We shared a smile, and a few minutes later I noticed a keffiyeh almost hidden underneath his jacket collar. As I had a stack of flyers for the benefit concert for the children of Gaza with me, and wanted to offer him one, I asked if I could give it to him because I noticed his shawl. He immediately replied, "I'm from Gaza," upon ensued a very pleasant and open conversation with him and with two other people, that just as I were full of curiosity and questions and were standing in the same carriage. A story came out which can only be described as incredulous. He moved here three years ago, and has a legal status to work in the Netherlands. This is one of those immigrants that does the jobs that we would rather not do, for wages that are probably suboptimal. In any case, he is very glad to be away from Gaza, because "it is just terrible there." We didn't go into the specifics. But, three years ago, it was already terrible there. He had to bribe an Egyptian border guard to be able to get out and to travel to Cairo, upon which his journey begin to Turkey, Greece, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, and through to the Netherlands. He walked most of the way from Turkey until Hungary, swimming a river and climbing high mountains for three days. He said that many who couldn't swim simply died in the river, and those who couldn't climb didn't make it either. At one point the police found them and brought them back to the border, but they just went back again and this time, were not caught.
He spoke to his father four days ago during the temporary cease-fire. He has not heard from them since. The strange thing about this man is that he remained cheerful pleasant, even when describing hardships and difficulties. I told him he is my guest at the benefit concert on the 15th of December.
The beautiful conversation that the four of us had, strange for a train ride in which normally nobody every speaks to anybody, is exactly what the benefit concert TROOST wants to elicit. It's a place for contact, for real interaction, music, consolation, listening to one another. Please come. Please feel welcome. Please help us to give a little light, comfort, and help to the children that so desperately need it now in Gaza. Let's raise 10,000 euros for those 1 million children!
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