When I joined SB Overseas as the new SB Espoir Project Coordinator last month, I was excited about this new adventure in my life.
Before moving to Brussels, I was living in Johannesburg, South Africa doing my fieldwork research project on the development of informal small businesses for my master’s programme. Being of Italian and Kenyan nationality and having lived in Nairobi most of my life, I have always been aware of the inequalities around me. However, it was living in South Africa that really opened my eyes to the social inequalities and the issues of inclusion in a country still recovering from institutionalised segregation.
After my 16th birthday, it was my goal to explore the world, and the best thing that happened to me was moving to Brussels to high school. I keep reminding people the amazing opportunities living in Europe offered: the freedom to travel and explore different cultures, landscapes and meet new people. In Africa, this isn’t as accessible, and most people barely get any chance to explore other countries and regions beyond what they read about in books and see on the telly. In Europe, and in Brussels especially, everyone has such an international background, have visited different countries and don’t even see the sky as the limit to where they can go.
All of this admiration is what brought me to joining SB OverSeas as the new project coordinator for the SB Espoir program. At SB OverSeas, we work towards helping those that do not have such opportunities and are fleeing conflict and poverty. Brussels, the capital of Europe, is where everyone from the four corners of the world come in search of a better life. Some of you must have seen all the centers in Brussels and the Parc Maximilien next to Gare du Nord, the latter a daily reminder of the refugee question in Belgium.
SB Espoir is a voluntary program in asylum centers which aims to help unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors in Brussels. In 2015 and 2016, 30% of asylum applicants in the EU were children and these children have gone through more than what any of us could imagine. With recent waves of anti-migrant sentiment and hate crimes across Europe, as if these kids hadn’t gone through enough, most of them lose hope in a positive outlook for the future, due to the feeling of not belonging.
As the new project coordinator, my goal is to improve our program towards creating a positive outlook for these minors. Activities with our volunteers revolve around not only engaging the youth with local communities, but also career exploration. The latter is key for the youth, as you would be surprised about how differently things can work in Europe compared to other places.
Furthermore, a focus for me is to bring in the concept of role models to show that they are not alone in what they are going through. Finally, as a big sports fan, I want to encourage positive youth development through sports. Sports is the best way to not only lead a healthy life style, but also to create a bond with people and learn teamwork. It is also a way to let these kids enjoy themselves and have a break from reality.
My dream is to give these youths the tools and knowledge to create a better future for themselves, as everyone deserves a chance. By involving volunteers and partnering up with local organisations, we can make more people aware of integration and inclusion matters and see just how similar we all are in the life’s goal of achieving fulfilment and joy.
If you are asking yourself what you can do to help, just come join us during our fun activities and share the most important resource we have: time. No gesture is too small and at SB OverSeas, we believe that we must work together towards helping those less fortunate.
Interested in joining, click here to find out more.