Every weekend the SB Espoir team not only spend time with the young refugees at the Red Cross of Belgium and Fedasil centres in Brussels, we also discover and learn new things. This is coupled with the emphasis on the personal development of these youth and fostering group dynamics towards social benefits.

Then how do you manage to achieve these goals of learning new things in an engaging way, taking into account the omnipresent language barriers and different abilities of the youth? How do you touch upon multiple skills and topics, such as promoting self-esteem and creativity, while keeping these teenagers engaged?

It’s simple – through arts and craft. You never know what you could be good at, and the only way to know is to try and see.

There are numerous arts and craft projects that can engage the youth and nurture their creativity. Arts and crafts help in the physical and social development of individuals, no matter age, gender, or skills set.

Thus the SB Espoir team delved into discovering the psychosocial benefits of arts and crafts with the youth in the centres during the months of January and February, with remarkable results.

Social work: A hands-on approach

“Frankly I really liked it [the activities], and it let me forget all the bad thoughts about me and it gave me the taste of living better in the nature. It’s a job I wish from my life, masonry, and may God make me realize it. Thank you! ”

One of the youth from the Fedasil Centre in WSP

Working with clay is never boring; there is always more to explore, more to try out and more to create.

Clay is such a versatile material that can take on nearly any shape or texture. It can be shaped into organic, free-flowing forms, or hard-edged, geometric forms. The tactile nature of this medium makes it especially useful for those wanting to explore into manual creation such as sculpting, drawing and other forms of art and professions, all the while having clear therapeutic properties.

These properties include promoting innovation and creativity, with the challenge of moulding ideas into real-life sculptures, requiring manual dexterity and creativity. Being able to present a final project also boosts self-esteem and communication skills, all key components for the group dynamics aimed by the project.

In fact, one of the main aims of SB Espoir is to promote a positive outlook for the future, and the testimony of the benefits of the activities by one of the youth is a reminder of the impact working together has, no matter the activities, and the need for giving the youth means to express their passions in non-verbal ways.

Want to support the activities and workshops we do with refugee youth in Belgium and have more testimonies like this?

Explore the different ways to get involved at www.sboverseas.org/volunteer/brussels/ 

Written by SB Espoir coordinator Marco Cagnolati.