A resident walks to the center of the city’s marine district, Sana Al-Fazzazi (48). Waving a Rotterdam pass and a phone. “The lane doesn’t work,” says the man. “Credit is not there. I called the board, but it doesn’t work.” Fazazi listens and nods. Then the man begins to cry. “Sit down,” she pointed to a chair. She puts her hands on his shoulders and looks at him. “Now I’m in a conversation, but we’ll call later,” I promised. “Do you want an umbrella?” Al-Fazzazi puts one in his hands.
Al Fazazi is one of the city’s nine Marines in Rotterdam, and in this role she has to improve the safety and sense of security for the residents of Hellslus. The area has the lowest perception of safety in the city, according to figures from the municipality. “It will never happen by itself,” a sign in the neighborhood mail wrote. “That’s right,” says Al-Fazazi, who started two years ago.
She says the shootings and riots because of Corona have had a huge impact on feeling safe. Vision is very important to her. Al-Fazzazi is regularly located in the center of the district where residents and businessmen can walk. The mail made them warm. She painted one of the walls green while serving coffee on a silver tea tray from Morocco. She listens to problems, puts her hand on a shoulder, and walks around the neighborhood. Fazazi is a household name. Many residents know it, and they know where to find it.
She says the willingness to report is poor. “When I get caught on drugs, I often think: ‘The residents must have already seen that something wasn’t right.’ Because they don’t trust the government, they don’t report. By being so accessible, I hope the residents speak up for their concerns. “.
Help in community centers
When 12-year-old Fazzazi immigrated from Morocco to Delfshaven. As the eldest of six children, she helped her father – who had difficulty reading and writing – with the tax return. She turned to community centers for help.
When I turned 16, a contribution of 1,000 guilders had to be paid to the school. “Too expensive, my parents thought. “You will not be the new Lubbers,” my father said. With the help of youth support, I found “reimbursement for studies” and was able to continue learning, as well as her brothers and sisters. “Then I tried that if you do not know the way, you can count on help from the government.”
Al-Fazzazi often hears from residents: “They don’t do anything anyway.” “I then try to better understand what the complaint is so I can also explain why something didn’t happen.” For example, the police cannot be present day and night on a particular street. Resident Ashraf El-Din felt that there were few policemen on his street. “We came under heavy fire and the residents felt unsafe,” he says. “The feeling was that the municipality had done nothing and that the police had other priorities.” The city’s Marines contacted the residents and discussed the insecurity. “Residents wanted to do something about it themselves,” she says. A neighborhood monitoring team has been formed.
Eight residents walk around the neighborhood two to three times a week, and Fazazi walks regularly. They wear yellow jackets. “This way we try to give the residents a sense of safety,” Dean says. They are concerned with wasting, youth loitering, and unsafe situations such as taking drugs on the street. “He told us that,” Dean says. Once a month, Al-Fazazi discusses with the residents what has been done with the reports. Dean: “We feel like we’re being taken very seriously. We put a lot of free time into this, Sana explains what we’re doing for it.”
A sign in front of the district center: one from the municipality, one from the police. “It is put down by some community officials when they are around,” Al-Fazazi says. District Officer Art van der Koij sits at the oval table in the back of the office. He displays on his phone photos he took over the weekend around the Al-Salam Mosque. “The visitors were all parked here on the grass,” he notes.
Read also this interview with Marcel de la Haigythe first marines in the city of Rotterdam to combat racism
Fazazi nodded his head. During Ramadan, the mosque is very crowded, which causes inconvenience to parking in the neighbourhood. She suggests: “Maybe we can more actively refer to parking garages?” “Or refer to the parking lots around De Kuip?” Later, Al-Fazazi contacted the parking expert in the municipality and the mosque administration.
Two new “avenue hosts” enter the neighborhood hub for heating after touring the area. The governors, appointed at Al Fazazi’s request, have been welcoming visitors to Beijerlandselaan since 1 April. They maintain contact with entrepreneurs and watch out for loitering and hassles. “It doesn’t look like that,” said the host Sheila. “But if the businessman addresses us about it…” “…they say the residents did it,” Al Fazazi ends. Sheila nodded, “In the coming weeks, we will visit all entrepreneurs with a form that once again contains all the rules for submitting waste.”
Garbage is one of the three major problems in the area, say the city’s Marines. “If he looks dirty, he also feels insecure.” There is a large plastic sign shaped like a garbage bag in the center of the neighborhood. They are covered with yellow stickers with texts such as: “Bonus if you don’t throw anything on the street”, “Watch the camera”. It’s an idea developed with the residents.
The second challenge is the presence of a large number of young people in the neighborhood: 4,000 out of the total 12,100 residents in Hellslus, says Al-Fazazi. Until recently, there were activities that mainly attract boys. We barely even looked at the girls. Now there is also a young female worker and therefore more contact with girls.” Most of the guys are fine.” But the communication could be better. We have to find the connection more, find out what’s going on.”
The third problem is the confusion of people in the neighborhood. “Sometimes it also leads to insecurity, for example when they are walking down the street screaming.”