Surinam is the smallest sovereign state in South America, just north from Brazil. It has a population of approximately 560.000, most of whom live on the country’s north coast, where the capital Paramaribo is located. The country of Suriname achieved independence from the Netherlands in 1975.

In Surinam we’ve invited 20 elderly to tell us their live stories. They came from elderly homes or were still living independently. We interviewd people from different ethnicities. This gave us a wonderful image, not only of how Surinam was in past times and the relations with the Netherlands, but also how they experience getting older. They shared their knowledge and wisdom regarding traditions and culture.

The participants were extremely positive on the project:

  • I never thought of what makes me proud. But now we’re talking about it, I am proud of the fact that I started a new study at the age of 36 and become what I am now, coming from the getto.
  • I am very satisfied that that there now is someone who knows my life from my childhood on.
  • This is something I have never experienced!
  • In all those 70 years no one has ever asked me these questions. I find it exciting to look at my life like this.
  • I’ve had a difficult life and didn’t see any bright spots. But this conversation made me aware that I did have a couple of happy moments in life. The time that I worked with my sewing machine, for instance. That really was something of my own.
  • It did good to me to be allowed to tell what I am proud of.
  • I wish everyone would have the opportunity to talk about their life.

The end result is the book Fosten Tori filled with life stories of elderly in Surinam.