Life on hold

Shortly after the war started in Ukraine, I got in contact with a family that fled to the Netherlands and we became friends. One day, they told me about the misperception most people have of refugees: Dutch citizens, but also people who stayed in Ukraine. Many of them think they left everything behind to live a comfortable European life and preferably will stay. I saw something else – a warm-hearted family that is proud of their country, culture, the progress their country is making – and desperately want to return to Ukraine. To their comfortable life there.

Apart from my friends, I had no one to compare my own perception with. I knew that after 6 months of the war, over 70,000 Ukrainians lived in the Netherlands, but I had no idea how in fact they were living here now or whether they were dealing with the same misconception. Besides from the daily photos of the war, I read little about Ukrainian citizens settling their life from scratch in my own country.I saw the importance of this story and the project was born. With the help of my Ukrainian friends – who wrote in groups on Telegram and Facebook to their fellow citizens – we found dozens of families living in the Netherlands who wanted to tell their story.

In August and September 2022, we have visited over 25 families – to document the perspective of a Ukrainian refugee in the Netherlands – and one thing got clear to me: “Most of them just wanted to go home”.

Personal Project

Published in Volkskrant Magazine
12th of November 2022

Selection of 2023 Dutch Photography (SO)
Award Winner of the Public Choice Prize

Zilveren Camera 2023
Category Documentary National Longlist

What is Happening Here Gallery Amsterdam
Solo Exhibition February/March 2024

3 children holding on to each other
Kids Blowing bubbles
Girl solving a puzzle
Boy held by mother
Two middle aged women in back yard
Boy playing in the yard
Picture of elderly man
Mother holding two children
Yard with long haired man standing and child sitting on slide
Man with long hair
Child looking over fence
Child dressed up as a princess
Elderly woman sitting in living room
Middle aged woman in garden
Woman dancing in yard
Children laying on couch
Boy with tiger t-shirt
Girls lying on bench playing with hula hoops
Girl playing with skippy ball
Elderly Woman
Mother and child in garden
Children looking out of front door glass
Elderly man
Children eating candy
Boy seen in glass reflection
Hand holding two dolls