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Embracing Diversity
Start date: Aug 1, 2014, End date: Jan 1, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project was dealing with 3 activities taking place in the centres for asylum seekers Fedasil in Rixensart and Petit Château (Brussels) and the Daycare centre accommodating adults with cerebral palsy Facere for 4 European volunteers. All the activities were located in or around Brussels and were coordinated by JAVVA. Fedasil Rixensart This activity took place in the centre Fedasil for asylum seekers in Rixensart during 12 months for the Italian volunteer and 11 months for the Spanish volunteer. This centre can host up to 140 residents. Volunteers integrated the service of leisure activities, whose aims are, on the one side, to support children and teenagers in their schooling and, on the other, to organise leisure time activities, mainly in the social and cultural field, for the residents. Some activities in the neighbourhood were also carried out, whose aim is to raise awareness in the local community about asylum seekers. Volunteers worked in the leisure activities department of the centre. They co-lead and co-organise different activities for children and also with adults. The activities varied from creative and artistic workshops to cultural excursions to sports activities to helping the youngsters in the cybercafé. Volunteers also helped the kids and teenagers with their homework. The main objective was to create links between European youngsters and asylum seekers in order to reciprocally enrich both residents and volunteers and make them discover new horizons. Fedasil Petit Château This activity took place in the centre Fedasil for asylum seekers Petit Château in Brussels during 12 months. The centre was hosting about 600 residents (men, women, families and even minors without their parents). The selected volunteer from the Netherlands integrated the Buro Bizzi team. She took part to activities for adults and minors, sport activities, trainings (poetry, language lessons, IT,...), she helped at the cybercafé, she helped to orientate residents,... These projects in Fedasil centres allowed volunteers to develop new skills as empathy, intercultural communication, tolerance, listening capacity and mutual understanding as well as to discover how the reception of asylum seekers works in Belgium. Volunteers were able to bring those little extras the professional staff isn't able to bring. The volunteers could organise new activities or continue already existing activities. This brings a little diversity to the residents. The volunteers could take their time to listen to the asylum seekers and have a very privileged contact with them because they don't represent an authority nor an institution. The volunteers definitely contributed to the quality of the asylum seekers' stay. Activities in centres for asylum seekers took place in a particular context. Indeed, due to some political changes at the federal level about asylum policy, reception centres saw a huge decrease in their capacity. This had an impact on the activities of the volunteers. Fortunately, they have shown flexibility and understanding regarding this unforeseen situation during their project and they managed to adapt to this new situation. Facere This activity took place in the Daycare centre accommodating adults with cerebral palsy Facere in Brussels during 6 months. The selected volunteer from Denmark, integrated the team of workers that runs workshops related to gardening, cooking, computer science, art-deco, musicals, painting, world studies and inter-cultural exchanges, radio, the making of animated films, cyclo-dance, etc. as well as various athletic activities and cultural outings. He also suggested new types of activities and participate in their planning. The volunteer was invited to take part in different activities by putting emphasis on dialogue and exchange with residents. The presence of the volunteer gave residents, who are all physically handicapped, a taste of fresh air from somewhere new and different as they have only a few chances to meet people from outside their family and the staff. An international volunteer gives residents the opportunity to get to know a different European culture and help open their horizons.
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