'I can't go back to Almelo because of what happened'

‘I can’t go back to Almelo because of what happened’

Immigrate to America. That sounds great, but would you do it? Feyk van Dijk (41) at 25 didn’t hesitate for a moment. He already met the love of his life, what could go wrong?

“Good morning,” Feek picks up the phone when we call him. He is in his garden in the middle, with a cup of coffee on his lap. It is half past seven in the morning for him, and half past two in Almelo. “I enjoy the sunrise.” Feig lives with his family in Lander, Wyoming.

American friends

His house is in the middle of a valley surrounded by mountains. A big contrast with the past, when he lived with his parents in Almelo. “I was a happy young man. I had friends and a good relationship with my family. But things didn’t go well at school. I felt stuck there. I loved playing music.

He decided to focus on his performances at cafes, weddings and parties. “I hoped that one day I would grow up to be an artist and travel the world making music.” This dream quietly came true one evening when he ran into a couple of Americans in the center of Almelo. “I befriended them. Within two weeks I was invited to see them.

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Feek and his family’s new home. Photo: Feike van Dijk

Leave for America

A nervous Feek asked his mother if he could go to America for a month. If you call her everyday she will be happy. “I wasn’t sure how quickly I had to pack my stuff, I was looking forward to it!” It was nothing, because he met dozens of good people there. “I absolutely loved the culture. I clicked with many musicians and they invited me to perform. But yes, after a month I had to go back.

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Feek booked another flight shortly after returning to the Netherlands. “You can’t stay long without a residence permit, so I flew to the other side of the world every three months. America felt like my second home. When Feig met his wife there, and he had two years of ups and downs, something happened. “I applied for a residence permit and moved. I wanted to share my life with her.

Never returned to Almelo

Does Feek ever want to return to Almelo now that he’s doing so well there? He wants to, but he can’t. “Something has happened here that my wife, kids and I can’t deal with mentally moving on.”

Two of their five children died in a fire eight years ago. All five were less than six years old at the time. “One of them saw the fire coming out of the window and came to me to ask where it was coming from. It was really too late by then.”

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The burnt house of Feig and his family. Photo: Feike van Dijk

Everything was on fire

Fike immediately opened a door. “I shouted for us to leave as the house was fully engulfed in flames. Thinking everyone was running out with me, I grabbed three of the five kids. When I looked back, everything was on fire. There was no way to save the other two.

After the fire

The event changed the lives of Feig, his wife and his children. “Our son Remmy, who was nine months old at the time, spent another six months in a burn center in a coma. It was a very difficult time, and it still is.

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For example, after the fire, Feige Almelo had a need to escape, as he calls it himself. “Still, we cannot handle the thought that we are so far away from our dead children. Also, I haven’t covered everything here yet.

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Feig and his wife with their five children. Photo: Feike van Dijk

Charm and dinner

So Feig doesn’t miss his hometown. In fact, he misses a few things every day. “Especially my friends and family. I went to bars and Hercules tournaments with my best mates and then we turned things upside down. Then he went to get chips for a late night snack. “We don’t know that here. Getting food everywhere at night is high on my to-do list! But I really miss the beauty of the city and its inhabitants.

Almelo has a heart

“I often realize that I have real Almelos habits. For example, every evening we eat dinner with the family. We talk about our day and talk for a while. A lot of people here think it’s crazy.” The well-known Almelo accent is not far behind.

If he calls mother, many people come coolWords have run out. “When I see Grolch beer in America, I’m the one who takes it off the shelves like liquor. Recently I discovered a liquor store not far from here. I bought five kilos and it was gone in two days, oops.

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Feige with son Able and sister Renee in Heracles. Photo: Feike van Dijk

By bus to Hercules

Fike has already taken one of his children to Almelo. They used public transport, which was a maddening experience for the young van Dijk. “He couldn’t believe his eyes. It’s all flat here. He didn’t know that. “All the houses are close, you can’t live like that,” he asked his father. The trip ended at the stadium of Heracles Almelo, which is still in Fike’s heart.

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