Catch a breath at De Maanwandelaars29 June 2023 20:26
Inne Gijsels and Imke Pauwels show us around vzw De Maanwandelaars. De Maanwandelaars vzw is providing two rest stops on our Refugee Walk this year: one in Mortsel (De Stappe) and one in Vremde (Den Buiten). The non-profit organisation offers day care for adults with mental disabilities. "We do that based on different pillars," explains Inne: "rest and experience, housework and labour, exercise, creativity and communication."
"Our Den Buiten location is mainly focused on rest, experience and movement. Our users spend their day there nature-oriented: they go for walks; maintain the experience garden, the herb garden, the forest and the donkeys; process fruit from the garden and so on. The Stappe focuses on the remaining pillars: we welcome guests who want to be more committed to work and creativity."
"Our organisation is still too little known. External organisations do not know what we are all about."
"I myself like to highlight our work-related work," says Inne of De Stappe: "To do this, we work with external organisations, which provide our users with tasks. For example, we have already made fabric garlands, cleaned up a hangar and polished the playground of a neighbourhood school. Unfortunately, we are too little known. External organisations do not yet know how to reach us and do not yet realise what we have to offer.
"We try to match our users with a supervisor with similar talents. This way, the users get to know and use their talents better, but as a companion you also learn a lot about yourself."
"What makes us unique? That is our small scale," Inne and Imke explain. "We are extremely close to our guests and try to match them with a companion who has similar talents. This way, the guests get to know and use their talents better, but as a companion you also learn a lot about yourself. We actively discuss the future vision of our guests: What are their strengths and talents? What are their requests for help? and What would they still like to learn?" explains Inne. The idea is that users can fill their day with something they enjoy doing and something in which they feel valued. For us, the process towards it is much more important than the result, but the results are there.
Gastvrij Boechout is also committed to helping people fleeing their country
The cooperation between Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen and De Maanwandelaars came about thanks to our contacts with Gastvrij Boechout. They too are participating in this year's Refugee Walk with their organisation. We meet volunteers Katlijn and Mieke in De Satelliet. This is a meeting place for newcomers and local residents in Boechout, where Gastvrij Boechout organises a weekly sewing workshop for refugees. There, the refugees can simultaneously learn a skill, make social contacts and discover the neighbourhood.
"The direct contact with people on the run was a real eye-opener," he says.
"We have been there from the very beginning," Katlijn and Mieke recount: "During the major reception crisis of 2015, we could no longer stand to see how refugees had to sleep on the streets. Together with a few local residents, we started asking around who would be interested in hosting some refugees for a weekend. And so suddenly there was a bus with 50 refugees from Fedasil in Boechout. The direct contact with people on the run was a real eye-opener and prompted us to expand the initiative."
"Meanwhile, we have built out several projects that symbolise a warm welcome for people with a refugee story. Among other things, we provide godmothers and godmothers to show refugees around, provide homework assistance, organise discussion groups to get acquainted with Dutch for the first time, accompany host families who take in minor asylum seekers, organise sewing workshops, look for structural and housing solutions and so much more!
"Thanks to our cooperation with Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, we can focus on local people and local policy. Tackling the big, structural problems, we leave to Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen"
"Thanks to our cooperation with Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, we can focus on local people and local policy. When the number of places in the Local Reception Initiative (LOI) was reduced, we immediately protested and tried to put pressure on the municipality. This is much easier locally, because a mayor is still very approachable. Especially when he cycles past you practically every morning. Dealing with the big, structural problems, we leave it to Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen. But if an action is organised, we are always there to express our political opinions. So you will definitely find us at the Refugee Walk."