As the headquarters for the European Union, Brussels is often the center of political and historic policies and events. Fittingly, Belgium ranks third in the world as most welcoming nation to refugees. This week, our voluntourism spotlight highlights the Rixensart Refugees Centre, located just outside Brussels. Learn more about their volunteer program this weekend’s broadcast of Peter Greenberg Worldwide and check back every Wednesday for more voluntourism opportunities.
Thousands of families seek asylum every year in Belgium, fleeing from war or other disasters in their home country. People entering Belgium asking for asylum status are not granted that immediately and must wait for authorization before starting new lives in Europe. Managed by Fedasil, The Rixensart Refugee Centre is one of many throughout Europe that welcomes refugees – mostly coming from Africa and Eastern Europe.
The center is middle ground for refugees, designed to get them equipped to start their new life. Refugees often come with children, who attend school at the center to learn the customs and traditions of Belgium.
Volunteers work directly with the refugees, including helping with social games, movie clubs, fitness, crafts, and sports tournaments. They also assist in the maintenance of the center, specifically painting, gardening, and general housekeeping duties around the center. This is a hands-on voluntourism opportunity, with volunteers also helping create proposals for new activities for both children and adults at the center.
Volunteers are organized through an organization called Volunteers Through Peace. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, send your resume and a letter firstname.lastname@example.org where you explain why you want to volunteer and what you can do to help out at the center. French language is preferred, but you can talk to the organization about opportunities in English as well.
By Alyssa Caverley for PeterGreenberg.com