After a war full of misery, Gormah also had to fight in the Netherlands: ‘Everyone laughed on my behalf’
On December 24, 1994, they landed together at Schiphol, hastily agreed. “I was wearing a skirt, with bare legs. There was snow halfway up the tires of the car. Cold! With hat, gloves and a thick sweater I crawled into bed that night.”
Gormah did not know that Ben was already in debt then. He bought a large house in Winschoten and had his own computer company. “You can’t borrow money in Liberia, I didn’t know that. White people are so rich that they can pay for everything, I thought too.”
Not on Dutch class
Before the war, Gormah had learned to read and write some English at primary school in Liberia. Ben wanted her to take Dutch lessons as well. She signed up for a course, but changed her mind at the last minute. “I didn’t think it was necessary.” It was a decision she would later regret.
A baby came, Jeffrey, with whom she filled her days: “I had no girlfriends. Ben and Jeffrey were my whole world.”
Ben’s company went bankrupt after a year, which was totally unexpected for Gormah. The beautiful house in Winschoten was exchanged for a small sketch house in Almere. “A block of concrete,” says Gormah.
Yet she was not unhappy, quite the contrary. “It was fun. Ben found a job and Jeffrey made friends in the neighbourhood. I talked hands-on with their mothers. We went to playgrounds together. I also help at school. I taught horses to speak Dutch better.
Two brain haemorrhages
A second son was born, Bertus. The war in Liberia is far away. That there were still money problems, not really until Gormah.
Until Ben got very sick. “He had diabetes, had to inject insulin. But he wasn’t taking care of himself. He ate badly, smoked only cigarettes and drank a lot of coffee. And he was stressed.”
Again tears in her eyes, as she says: “I do not remember at all in his illness. I did not know at all what exactly diabetes was, how important it was for him to be on time for example.”
Ben multiple tias and two brain hemorrhages. He was only in his early forties, but no longer a shadow of the latter that Gorm found years earlier in Liberia. “He was paralyzed on one side, walking very difficult. I showered, brought him his food and his medicines, kept the children quiet. He couldn’t stand the noise anymore.”