On the 15th of February, the Schuman Trainee Committee invited SB OverSeas at the European Parliament to share its experience about refugee integration in Belgium. The conference aimed to bring together grass root organisations involved in facilitating the integration of refugees and asylum seekers in the Belgian society. Singa, Refugees Got Talent and Tandem joined SB OverSeas in an inspiring and at times moving panel, composed of both refugees and European citizens.
SB OverSeas had the opportunity to portray its SB ESPOIR programme and share with the audience the lessons learnt during its almost 3 years of activity. At first implemented for children asylum seekers residing in the reception centre Petit Chateau, SB ESPOIR is today an integration programme for unaccompanied minors living in the centre of observation and orientation of Fedasil and the Red Cross reception centre in Uccle. Veronica, the SB OverSeas spokesperson, highlighted the importance of such a project for promoting intercultural dialogue and social inclusion. By providing the migrant youth and local and international volunteers with opportunities to meet and participate in society, active citizenship is encouraged and integration fostered. Among the lessons shared with the audience, SB OverSeas evoked the importance of an early integration process and the need to consider the newcomers as actors that can engage and positively contribute to their host society.
Thanks to the presentations of the other NGOs’ representatives, SB OverSeas could learn about the local initiatives existing in Belgium to integrate refugees in the labour market (Tandem), to facilitate exchanges and inclusion through music (Refugees Got Talent) and to promote activities for relationship building (Singa). Rather than trying to assimilate the newcomers to the host culture, all organisations, SB OverSeas included, work for strengthening dialogue between cultures. Brussels was therefore mentioned as the perfect example for allowing different communities and traditions to meet and live together.
The public actively engaged in the discussion, animating the debate with questions, inputs and personal curiosities. We thank Jade for managing the event’s organisation and moderating the panel. SB OverSeas is delighted for the opportunity had and hopes that its intervention will inspire more people to participate in fostering a more inclusive society.
Photo credit: Geert Joos Slabbekoorn