In honour of International Women’s Day, this week we are shining the light on the women who make SB Espoir a reality. SB Espoir is a program run by SB OverSeas and supported by volunteers, which aims to foster integration of unaccompanied minors living in asylum centres. In this article, we would like to bring attention to the women who make this possible.
Last Saturday, I decided to finally make good on one of my New Years’ Resolutions and attend one of the SB Espoir activities held in the asylum centre in Uccle. This centre caters for unaccompanied youth, all boys in between the ages of 14 and 17. This was my first time in an asylum centre, although not my first time working with youth nor asylum-seekers. I had met a fellow colleague on the tram and as it was both our first time going we were a little unsure of whether we should just go in or wait outside. We decided since we were fifteen minutes early that we would go to the Delhaize. As we began to walk away, we were stopped by a smiling woman overloaded with bags containing arts and crafts material as well as cupcakes and capri-suns. She asked if we were here for SB Espoir, and this is how we first met N. N, who is currently doing a PHD in Chemistry, and C, who is working in the EU institutions, both spend their weekends coming up with and running workshops for unaccompanied minors in the centres.
For this week, they had decided hospitality would be the focus of the Saturday activities. This theme was realised through building houses using lollipop sticks and glue. There was an abundance of creativity shown with the colourful houses being a far cry from the grey walls of the centre. During the creation of these houses, the volunteers and the boys chatted about a variety of topics, from cricket to school to love-life advice with the occasional praise or remark being passed on the houses.
These boys often may be without family and therefore may lack a female role-model and influence in their lives. These women volunteers provide that ‘motherly’ guidance and appear to not be seen only as volunteers who come to the centre, but as a confidant and a friend, with discussions ranging from the issues bothering the boys as well as updating the women on their life.
So in light of International Women’s Day, we want to express our thanks to these women who make SB Espoir what it is today.