People from many different countries live, study and work in Eindhoven. Every week, E52 has a talk with an international about what brought them here and what life is like in Eindhoven.

Name: Necla Kocak
Country of origin: Turkey
Work: project leader Kracht on Tour at the municipality of Eindhoven

I cycle to Necla’s house around half past nine in the morning. The reason for this early appointment is Necla treats photographer Diewke and me to a Turkish breakfast. She already warned us by e-mail: we do not have to eat anything at home. With the help of Google Maps I end up at the surprisingly new street near the Trudoplein where Necla lives with her family. I am warmly welcomed by her and see that Diewke is already there. The Turkish tea is simmering and Necla puts the finishing touches to the breakfast. The table is full of all kinds of treats. “At a Turkish breakfast, there are at least olives and simit, bread with sesame seeds.”

“I came to Eindhoven as an eight-year-old in the 1970s. My father was the first of our family to come here, looking for work. He had found a job at DAF. For me, it felt kind of like coming home. We lived in a very nice street, with an older couple next door. They were like a grandfather and grandmother to us. Because I could be myself so well, I never had the feeling that I was not welcome. That safe feeling has laid a good foundation. At my father’s request, when I was thirteen, I left school and worked as a production worker in a laundry. The seven years that I have worked there has shaped me as a person. There I learned to work hard, discipline and to persevere. Without this experience, I would probably have a different perspective on life. I have four daughters. I call them my roses with different colors and scents and together we form a beautiful bouquet. They have always had a part-time job, from when they were allowed to work. Children learn how to deal with money.”

“In Eindhoven is room for everyone and there is room for talent”Necla Kocak, Project leader Kracht on Tour

“Eindhoven feels like a warm nest to me. There is room for everyone here and there is room for talent. Of course things are not going well, and there are challenges for the city. One is the economic self-reliance of women. This needs more attention. I want to do my best to add something positive. I do this with, among other things, Kracht on Tour. This is a national initiative, and I am the project leader in Eindhoven. Through a focused approach with meetings with presentations and workshops by resourceful people, women are encouraged to discover their talents with the aim of increasing their financial independence. I would like to be a role model for these women and give them a helping hand. I myself have a number of ‘angels’ in my life and they have helped me go further. Now I like to do that for someone else.”

Necla can certainly be a role model for many people. Giving up does not appear in her dictionary. At her thirtieth, as a mother and at work as a full-time toddler teacher, she also decided to start with a study. “I wanted to develop myself. I started with a study of five years. Because I had not done any preparatory training, I sometimes had problems with the assignments at school. After a teacher asked me if this was the right choice for me, I was only more eager to get it. In the meantime, I was faced with two reorganisations at work and was declared redundant. I was working on my thesis on education and appropriate school advice and decided to submit a project proposal based on my research to the municipality. I graduated, my proposal was well received and I got the opportunity to set up the Education Support Center. What another sees as a setback, I see as a new opportunity.”

“I have been given every opportunity to realize my dreams and my ambitions. By connecting people’s quality and strengths and using them for social issues. That gives me the energy and strength to volunteer for others, besides my family and work,. Roll up your sleeves and help people who need a helping hand.” After a very pleasant morning with a good conversation and a delicious breakfast we leave again. We have a well-filled belly and a head full of inspiration.

Read all the internationals stories here.
Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel

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About the author

Author profile picture Sabine te Braake is a writer and an entrepreneur. She loves Eindhoven, the city where she once started as a student.