Written by SB Espoir Activity Assistant Micaela Lafratta

An astronaut, a lawyer or a cowboy. Those were my three career options when I was 7. Since then, I changed my mind several times about what I wanted to do when I grew up.

What I am passionate about? What I am capable of? What is my dream?

These questions came to my mind the most: feeling free to dream with whatever career I wanted. And, suddenly, I discovered the truth dawning on me like a cold shower: my reality was the exception rather than the norm—but it only takes some effort to make it a reality for more young people.

 With this idea in mind, we organized an activity in our SB Espoir project which supports young refugees living in reception centres in Brussels about plastic recycling and employment opportunities for the youth. With the collaboration of Plastimobile, a mobile workshop that aims to teach young people science, technology and chemistry, we together with the youth discovered how is possible to new create plastic objects with recycled plastic.

Did you know that it is possible to create plastic at home with just some vinegar and milk? Or that separating correctly the types of plastic is fundamental to reuse them? Through the expertise of Plastimobile, the youth had the opportunity do some chemistry and even learn how to manipulate recycling machines.

A loud cheer filling the room every time a young boy or girl manipulated chemical materials and create plastic out of nowhere, a queue to try all the different machines that converted different types of plastic into fancy masks or key chains, and a question in the air: “how did you do that?”. At the end, a curiosity and aim of learning that motivated us to double the planned workshops so all of them could participate.

In the Fedasil first-line reception centres like the one in Neder-Over-Heembeek, the young asylum-seekers have their first contact with the Belgian reality. Indeed, in this context, being aware of the possibilities that the job market can offer it can be a tool itself. Even more, when the youth get interested in the scientific and technical fields because they had the opportunity to try how fun can be to do some chemistry themselves.

Knowledge is power, they say, and so is education. What do you want to be?