Weg van Nederland is a televised game show that supposedly pits asylum seekers against each other for the chance to win a cash prize before being deported to their home countries.
Translated as “Leaving the Netherlands”, Weg van Nederland will air on the VPRO channel this Thursday, and while it sounds like a big joke, VPRO editor-n-chief Frank Wiering says contestants are real unsuccessful asylum seekers who have to leave the country in a month or two. They are offered the chance to compete for a $5600 cash prize to take with them when they get deported. Contestants have to answer questions about Dutch culture, history and language, to prove which of them learned most about the Netherlands during their stay in the country. Losers get consolation prizes like tulip bulbs and bulletproof vests.
Among the contenders featured on the Weg van Nederland pilot on Thursday are an aeronautical engineer set to be deported to Cameroon and a student who will soon have to return to Chechnya. Wiering admits he first thought the game show was a terrible idea, but the more he thought about it the more he realized it wasn’t mocking the poor asylum seekers, but rather highlighting their problem through humor.
“Often our government invests in the education and integration of immigrant children, then just as we are about to harvest that investment and they all become hardworking Dutch taxpayers, they are sent away.” said Wouter van Zandwijk, Holland’s Refugee Support Group spokesman. “The program is sick but, let’s face it, the reality is sick too,” he added.
Viewers will also have the chance to play Weg van Nederland through an online quiz, with a top prize of a ticket to the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao.