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“I thought I’d just do it.

‘Renate’s waiting for heart surgery. There’s no way she’s gonna get infected with corona. She’s not seeing anyone. She’s not getting anywhere. That makes her very lonely. I call her every other day for at least half an hour. Sometimes I call her when I’m on my own. She can look out through my eyes. Hey Renate, I say, I’m at the pee now. It’s beautiful there. I can see the birds flying low over the water. There’s just a thin sun coming through.

I saw a call for bell buddies. I thought: I’ll just do it, I’ll see if it clicks. First the calls were scanning. We were talking about the dress she’s making. And about the broad beans, which are especially tasty with spicy mustard. But gradually the conversations became more confidential. We often talk about the exciting time that is going to come for her because of the operation. We talk about her fears and uncertainties. And that she has hardly any contact with her daughter. That’s the worst thing about everything she’s going through. The other day it was Renate’s birthday. That’s when I called her.

As a child I had to take care of myself and my little brother. My childhood is a gripping story that doesn’t have to be told anymore. Maybe it grew in me then to be there for others, in whatever way. At that time I had to carry a lot myself and I know how important it is that someone looks after you. My life took a turn after that: I’m doing well, with many dear people around me. But somewhere I remember what it’s like not to have anyone. That’s very lonely.

Manon Albers (56)
Bell buddy at De Regenboog Group

by Manon Albers


Het huis van Amsterdam met dank aan: Gemeente Amsterdam West Soundtrackcity