Yusuf - Rederij Lampedusa
Yusuf Adam Suali is a captain at Rederij Lampedusa and part of the migrant collective We Are Here. He lives partly in Bullewijk and partly in West.
Yusuf Adam Suali was born in southern Somalia and fled to the Netherlands in 2009. Whilst he believes that ‘Amsterdam is a great city that accommodates people of all different backgrounds’, he still feels that asylum policies make it difficult for undocumented migrants – ‘ordinary people who deserve a normal life’ – to get the correct documents to live and work here. He joined the migrant collective We Are Here in Amsterdam to fight for refugee rights and contribute to a more progressive culture and quality of life in the city.
After years of living an undocumented life, Yusuf received a residence permit last year. He works at Rederij Lampedusa, where, as a captain, he takes people on a tour of the Amsterdam canals while telling stories about migration in the city. 'We are all immigrants in this city, in this world. If you look at our history, you see that everyone has ancestors from different parts of the world. Yes, the world has different continents, and Amsterdam is home to people with different skin colours - but in the end, we are all one. During the canal tours, I meet people from all kinds of backgrounds and get to know a great diversity of opinions. That's also what makes the work so interesting: you don't always have to agree with each other, but you can hear each other's opinions.'
In Somalia, Yusuf worked as a fisherman. 'I lived on the coast half my life. I won't say that the work here in Amsterdam is similar to what I did in Somalia, but I still enjoy working on the water here as well.' Over the years that Yusuf has built his life in Amsterdam, he has come to appreciate the city more and more. 'It's my hometown, and I feel proud to be able to say that. Amsterdam is a city where everyone lives together in a multicultural society. And I like that everyone speaks English here – it means we can all continue to communicate with each other.'
Yusuf uses his voice to keep people on their toes or, if necessary, wake them up. 'We have a lot of work to do in Amsterdam’, where he believes that political engagement and increased awareness can help deal with racism, discrimination or asylum issues and assist in making voices heard and policies better. Personally, he hopes that ‘we, as citizens together, can make a change. Everyone has the right to call a place his or her home.' Through his boat tours, Yusuf continues to inspire a broader audience and raise awareness about the many stories of migration to and from the city where he now proudly resides.