A migration from West to East.

2018, Sofia, Bulgaria

Photographing my colleagues from the call center job in our fifteen minute break.

Why did they decided to leave the Netherlands behind to work in a callcenter in Bulgaria?


It was his Bulgarian wife who first came to the Netherlands. But since she only got job offers for cleaning and assembly line work they made the decision to move to Bulgaria together. There he started working at a dutch customer service agency. Their plan is to save enough money to eventually move to the Bulgarian countryside. 

Because of the cheap labor, Bulgaria is an attractive country for many companies to establish their customer service, this includes the Dutch. Because Dutch is a language that view speak, the salary is higher than the average Bulgarian salary. This makes it for some people attractive to move. 

His holiday to Bulgaria was supposed to be for five days. However, on the fourth day, after having a bit too much to drink, this would change into one and a half year where he wasn’t allowed to leave the country. It was at night, his phone had died and he was looking for his hostel. When he saw a person in a lid up window display he decided to knock on the glass in the hope this person could help. Unfortunately, the person turned out to be a mannequin. The alarm from the shop went off and the owner called the police. The police didn’t speak English and he no Bulgarian. To show the police he was willing to pay for possible damage, he showed them money from his wallet. The police interpreted this as bribing and took him to the police station where he had to stay for three weeks until the deposit got paid. He wasn’t allowed to leave the country until the final ruling. Which could be; or ten years prison or a fine of 15.000 leva (around 7000 euro). He decided to start working at a callcenter in the meantime. The final ruling was eventually non of both. He was on probation for half a year where he had to check in with the police for the first forty-two days. When this period is over, he will go back to the Netherlands to continue his study. 

In 2014 he took the decision to follow his son to Bulgaria who already had a job there. That he was becoming a grandfather was one of the reasons to leave Rotterdam behind. After four years of working in the customer service he made a future plan to at some point move back to Surinam to go into politics to defeat Desi Bouterse. 

Although he was already certain about moving to Bulgaria, it was his current Bulgarian girlfriend that made him speed up his plan. Within three months after deciding to move he closed his doors in Belgium and got on the airplane. With a job as a manager in prospect he started applying. When it turned out that he didn’t have the acquired skills he decided to start at the bottom, motivated that his striving career mentality will bring him higher up. Next to his customer support job he directs videoclips, is setting up an online payment platform and often auditions as a movie extra.

Besides his work as a nurse in the Netherlands he was a devoted poker player. When he heard about the 24/7 poker industry in Bulgaria he packed his bags and left. At first he wanted to keep a side job as a nurse, but when it turned out he would make 300 euro a month he decided to work in telecom sales where he would make triple a nurse income. At his job he joined in competitions between colleagues who could sell the most broccoli or wine to customers. 

In 2007 he went to Bulgaria for the first time for a holiday. Back home in Zeeland he realised he fell in love with its nature, music and woman. In 2014 he made the decision to move. From the beginning it was his goal to earn enough money to set up his own company. Before this would actually happen he first worked four years for different customer services and almost got married. He eventually found a business partner to set up a bitcoin mine. While he’s working on this, his final plan is to build a self sufficient house in the mountains and retire early.