Young people in disadvantaged communities everywhere are motivated to make something of their lives, even as the efforts of institutions tend to focus on the youngest and the most frail. Meanwhile, many young refugee women find themselves in a particularly vulnerable situation, due to social and economic pressures.
In our flagship Bukra Ahla centre in Beirut, we began a new programme for young refugee women in September 2016. The focus is to provide education and social support, to protect them against the particular threats they face, such as early forced marriage. We offer them a citizenship programme, based on developing their self-respect, assertiveness and solidarity, while at the same time engaging with their families and communities to raise awareness of the dangers of early marriage.
Meanwhile, in Brussels we run two civic engagement programmes for youth living in underprivileged neighbourhoods: S’engager pour la paix and Dream Team.
S’engager pour la paix brings together girls between the ages of 12-16, while Dream Team is open to boys from 14-18. The participants in these programmes come together on weekends to share their experiences of adolescence, as well as to discuss civic themes and values. The emphasis is on participation in peace building and solidarity, with participants in both programmes encouraged to lend a hand running our events, collections and other activities for refugees in Brussels.
In Brussels, we also run a programme called SB Weekend, where we provide a programme of citizenship education and intergration support for unaccompanied refugee minors living in holding centres in Brussels.
The youth in these centres come from all over the world, and find themselves in an unfamiliar environment, having left their homes to go through an often traumatic journey into and across Europe. Through creative, constructive and sporting activities, we help them learn to find their feet in a new society, and how to understand and live in harmony with people from different backgrounds and cultures.
This programme is run entirely by part-time volunteers. If you live in the Brussels area, and are interested in taking part, please head here for more information.