First published in Brussels Express
Why do we help other people? Of course, most will say that we help our family and close friends because we love them and want the best for them.
But what about helping a stranger? Someone you’ve never met; and I don’t mean once in a while giving change to someone homeless on the street (though that’s always a helpful gesture!)
I mean engaging on a regular basis in an action that supports the needs of a community that is outside of your own. This kind of help comes in many forms: a seemingly small as collecting unused clothing to donate to people who need it, taking time once a week to teach English, or traveling to another country to use your skills for good, without asking for anything in return.
Volunteering allows you to learn about the reality of life for some else: for the average European, a trip to a Greek island means relaxing and having fun in the beaches, or a trip to Budapest normally implies having nice walks along the Danube or relaxing in the thermal waters. But beyond those amazing beaches and those thermal waters there are real people struggling to find their way through Europe, but most importantly to finding their way to safety. By volunteering, you first-hand can begin to understand these realities.
In Brussels, volunteering with SB Espoir means you get to see and experience the city you live in but with people who have a completely different perspective than you. For example, you could get to do things like go to Mini Europe with a group of youngsters who may have never even heard of some of the cities features, or participate in the Belgian Red Cross’ “vis mon exile” event that allows you to put yourself in the shoes of someone fleeing their country.
For these youth, having group of people come to the center that they live in and offer their time during an afternoon on the weekend, gives the them not only the opportunity to escape from their isolation, but to also come in contact with the broader Brussels community. You make a difference in someone’s life. Our activities during the weekend gives the youth a distraction, something to do and look forward to, our actions support their wellbeing. If a person is alone and lonely their thoughts tend to go to past experiences, and for young migrant people this is especially true since they have experienced the hardship exile.
You also get to explore places that as a local you often don’t go to. I think it has happened to all of us: we put off visiting a museum we are interested in, or places like the Royal Observatory or even visiting the European institutions since we live here and think that we will have the time to visit them anytime in the future.
These are only some of the many benefits of volunteering your time and ways in which doing so will change your life.
Read our Volunteer Blog, you will find real stories of the people that have or still volunteer with us. If you decide to help us make a difference in migrant youth and want to become part of our group of volunteers, it’s easy to join. Send us an email to and you can sign up to participate in our weekend activities in Brussels, or go abroad and teach English in our centers in Lebanon.