KLABU Store & Clubhouse Opening

A story of resilience and growth: discover the unbeatable spirit of Amsterdammer Bader (30, originally from Syria) who runs the successful and mouthwatering catering company Hummus & Habibis.

I’m Bader (30)
I was 18-years old, when I had to leave Syria.
I traveled alone through Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and finally, Amsterdam.
When I was in Turkey, I struggled to rebuild my life.
I got below the minimum salary as a Syrian refugee.
People took advantage of me.
One day I called my dad, crying, and I said;
I’ve always had a feeling I’m special.
There must be more to life than pain and trying to reach safety.
This cannot be it.
I told my dad I’m hearing about boats going to Europe.
I asked if he could help me because it costs €10,000.
My father decided to sell his butcher shop.
He wanted me to have a future.
A day later, I heard from news about a boat sinking and 200 people dying.
I started to have panic attacks.
My mind was filled with the last seconds of my life; being under the water, trying to breathe.
I was thinking: what I am throwing myself into.
When the day came, I felt like I was in a Hollywood movie.
Walking through the jungle. Smugglers. 50 people squeezed into a rubber boat.
Once we arrived on an island, I jumped from the boat.
I swam, stood on the beach, and I took a photo.
I was alive. I made it, baby!
I feel privileged I’ve experienced what I had to experience.
I don’t want people to pity me because I am a refugee.
These situations are challenging but they taught me things you can’t learn in school.
Life is not about comfort, having the best car, and being in the best school.
Life will challenge all of us in one way or another.
But not everyone is ready to face huge challenges and overcome them.
Through working on myself; crying, breathing, therapist.
It’s been healing to accept and be grateful for the hard parts of life.
It’s difficult to say if other refugees see their experience as valuable.
I know if I would go now to Ter Apel and say to people they are privileged
They would laugh at me - and I get it.
I only started to feel this way after my company “Hummus & Habibis”.
Hummus & Habibis changed my life.
It gave me a mission and made me stand on my feet.
I felt seen for the first time in my life.
Now people stop me on the street; they thank me for what I do.
I can give back to my family and other refugees.
All these years, all these struggles made me stand here.
Would have you guessed I feel privileged to be a refugee?
No, me neither.
Not long ago, I felt seen just as a refugee number 2C6.
But the labels are only the surface.
What’s below the surface,
That is what truly matters.
-- Story by KLABU community members Elsa Havas (copy) and Amanda van Hesteren (video)
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