Volunteering with SB Overseas: how one smile can change the world

10 Feb

Volunteering with SB Overseas: how one smile can change the world

One fact about war

Every morning, I read the news about armed conflicts worldwide. It is very hard to form an objective viewpoint due to the complexity of the problems and the often-contradictory reports.  But when I met refugee children and youth while volunteering with SB Overseas in Brussels, I realised something: even when the war does not kill, it forces innocent people to uproot themselves from their life. This was my first lesson: the only undebatable fact about war, its victims.

Dreaming and giving

I listened to some of the SB Overseas children and youth speaking about their journeys to reach Belgium. Some were detained in prison at the borders, others took a broken boat and risked their lives. Many were separated from families and some lost everything during their journey. But this is only one side of their story, the other side is their strong will. They can still smile and dream about tomorrow: “I want to become a lawyer to defend the rights of people”, said Oussama, one of the refugee youths. Another twelve-year-old girl gave her colourful bracelet as a gift to a toddler she had never met before. A dozen of our children gave all their candies to a homeless man in the metro. This was my second lesson: despite the disaster, the will, generosity and desire to dream persists!

The power of a hug

After several months of absence, I resumed the activities with the SB weekend team with the refugee children. One of our previous pupils, a five-year-old girl, noticed our team and ran toward me and my colleagues. I think I smiled when I saw her, but she did not. Instead, she climbed my limbs and gave me, then each of my colleagues, a long and warm hug without even exchanging a word. When she was hugging me, I felt like the whole world was between my arms. I suddenly felt the sky was sunny and blue, and I stopped feeling the cold weather around me. This was one of the rare moments of my life where I felt ready to give everything to make the happiness of others!

Our dream

My colleagues and I dream for these youths. We want to see them active in their new societies, respected and valued among their peers. We dream about curing them from their trauma and giving them a true chance, where their future is not affected by their past. Through my work with SB Overseas weekend team, I learned that humanitarian values transcend linguistic, social and ethnic barriers. I learned that a hug from a child is, to me, more important than the whole world, and that love is more powerful than weapons. I became determined, as much as I could, to try and make those youth smile. Because their smile, just their smile, can change the world!

Author: NH

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