The Refugee Walk as a low-threshold way for youth movements to engage with refugee issues

08 May 2023 10:50

A wise man once said "Change the world, start with the youth movement"

The uniform proudly worn is one in which adventures are had, friendships made and plans forged; in which members become a little more independent every Saturday or Sunday and grow into committed young adults. Nowadays, these uniforms also join the Refugee Walk to raise money for people fleein their country! That is what Mirte, Thomas and their enthusiastic group of scouts prove. Last year they walked the 40 km of the Refugee Walk in Antwerp with their team 'De Verkenners 3248'.

Mirte already participated in the past with her leadership team. Through a friend who had travelled with the Road of Change, an immersion holiday for young people in the last secondary school, she came into contact with Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen and the Refugee Walk. After her first participation in the Refugee Walk, she drummed up her scouts to join her. So last summer, Mirte and Thomas decided to make the Refugee Walk a Sunday activity with the scouts.

Since the scouts are used to organising drops and treks - up to even 4 days long - they had not really prepared for the walk. As such, it was the first activity of the new operating year. "40 km remains a brisk walk, but it is also not insurmountable," said the group. According to them, a big hike is right up a true scout's alley and especially when it can be in the context of social commitment.

"I think in general it embraces all the values of a youth movement. It is also a nature walk. For many youth movements, getting children into nature, hiking, being outside is also the aim. Occasionally thinking more about society, living in a group, diversity, being empathetic with each other,.... I think the Refugee Walk is also a great example of that; think about other people, try to treat everyone humanely,... These lean very much towards the values of the Scouts." said Mirte.

Trekking trips, survival trips and droppings are usually carried out without leadership and less extensive chatter is done during games at meetings. However, the Refugee Walk gives the scouts leaders a chance to get to know their members in another way too. In turn, the members were once given the opportunity to reflect on the stories of people fleein their country in an approachable way. Their members actually didn't know much about this, but through the Refugee Walk they got to know about it.

The experience the day itself surprised them immensely. Because it is such a big - and, according to them, impressive - event, they immediately felt part of a bigger picture. Supporting each other literally and figuratively to keep going anyway, there is no better activity to start your new working year, with new members and new leadership!

This year, Mirte and Thomas are working to activate the leadership team and the oldest branches to sign up earlier, so that members can also be informed more quickly. The challenge here is that the Refugee Walk is usually the first meeting of the year with the new groups and new leaders. Fortunately, this year's Refugee Walk falls one week later than usual!

Thank you for your tireless efforts. We very much look forward to seeing you again!