• 25 juni: voorbereidingsdag Work@World
  • 18 juni: info-avond over vluchtelingen i.s.m. Re-Focus



Welkom in het e-zine van VIA!

Zo, beste vrienden, we hebben alweer wat nieuws te melden! Om te beginnen maken we een avondje vrij om te praten over vluchtelingen. Enkele kenners gidsen u binnen enkele weken doorheen dit actueel en best wel complex thema. Dit alles wordt georganiseerd door Merel, reeds jaren een vaste VIA-vrijwilliger, in samenwerking met Re-Focus.

Verder hebben we zoals vanouds nog een stel mooie Work@World projecten in de aanbieding, ook in eigen land. Voor enkelen daarvan zoeken we nog een begeleider... iets vour jou?

Intussen zit ook de drie maanden die Anna bij ons zou doorbrengen als stageaire, er op. We namen feestelijk (!) afscheid van haar. Zij bezingt hieronder haar belevenissen! En tot slot ook de indruk van Shane, momenteel vrijwilliger bij SCI, over onze kampbegeleiderstraining.

Veel leesplezier! Groetjes van VIA!

Re-Focus op vluchtelingen

Op 18 juni organiseert Re_focus in samenwerking met VIAvzw een infoavond in het teken van vluchtelingen. Re_focus is een open projectgroep die werkt rond thema's als vluchtelingen en migraties. De avond wordt georganiseerd door Merel Gebruers, al sinds 10 jaar vrijwilliger bij VIA.

Merel is in oktober met een dynamische groep vrijwilligers naar het transitkamp van Trabanovce getrokken om de vluchtelingen te helpen. Ter plaatse bieden zij op verschillende manieren directe humanitaire hulp aan de vluchtelingen in het kamp.

In Merel's eigen woorden: “In de winterperiode passeerden er dagelijks meer dan 7000 mensen het transitkamp. Vandaag is dat door pushbacks en sluitende grenzen al wat minder. Om in te spelen op de belangrijkste noden van de vluchtelingen hebben we een flexibele groep die zich aanpast aan de dagelijks veranderende situatie. Onze vrijwilligers komen op de Balkanroute vaak in contact met vluchtelingen die heel straffe verhalen te vertellen hebben. De hulp komt dus niet enkel van onze kant. VIA beschouwt vluchtelingen heel eenvoudig als medemensen. Onze vrijwilligers leren minstens evenveel van de vluchtelingen als de vluchtelingen steun vinden bij ons. Daarom gaat alle winst van onze infoavond rechtstreeks naar de vrijwilligers op de Balkanroute.”

De infoavond vindt plaats op 18 juni in Madam Fortuna in Borgerhout. Re_focus geeft het woord aan experten en ervaringsdeskundigen die voor duiding zorgen bij de situatie op de risicovolle Balkanroute. Verder zal er ook een debat plaatsvinden waaraan het publiek vrij mag deelnemen. Daarnaast zal een vluchteling zijn ervaringen delen.

Het doel van de avond is dubbel: met dit solidariteitsproject wil Re_focus de vluchtelingencrisis bespreekbaar maken bij het grote publiek. Daarnaast is de infoavond ook een benefiet. De inkomkaarten zijn aan vrije bijdrage. Alle inkomsten gaan rechtstreeks naar de vrijwilligers die dagelijks tot het uiterste gaan om het leven van de vluchtelingen op de Balkenroute draaglijker te maken!

Het muzikale luik wordt ingevuld met muziekoptredens van Sur Quartet en De Karavaan. Tussendoor kunnen de aanwezigen genieten van Syrische hapjes.


Kampbegeleider zijn is fijn!

Buiten de honderden uiteenlopende mogelijkheden die nog open liggen in het buitenland, organiseert VIA ook op eigen bodem Work@World projecten. Voor een viertal van deze kampen zoeken we nog tenminste één begeleider.

Een diploma heb je er niet voor nodig, maar ben je iemand met verantwoordelijkheidsgevoel, vind je  "vrijwilligers begeleiden" spannend klinken, of heb je gewoon puike people skills: je komt in aanmerking als kampbegeleider! Ervaring niet vereist: we maken je wel wegwijs.

Help ons mee deze lijst inkorten:

Onze stagiaire maakt wat mee

The past autumn I was in Italy, waiting for the results of my exams and for the beginning  of the courses. I had a feeling I had had since a long time, but it had always remained latent, hidden behind a mountain of worthless commitments. Suddenly, I felt with an extreme urgence the need to leave, to discover something new in the world, to meet different people. I had the desire to put some obstacles in front of me and to test my strenghts and my limits as well. I don't know how to better describe this feeling and this need, but I think it's basically something about getting to know oneself better.

Thanks to the possibility to spend some months abroad with the Erasmus+ project, I started searching for any kind of organization who could need an intern. I was ready to accept everything that could have helped me to leave my comfort zone; I didn't mind if it was a repetitive work in a company's office or if it was a hard physical work in the fields. It was exactly when I was lost in this stressed research that I found SCI or, more probable, that SCI came towards me.

I took a plane in a foggy morning at the end of February.  Immediately, I clashed with the first difficulties: I didn’t know French and (ehm…) not even Dutch, and my scholastic English wasn't sufficient to well express myself. How could I communicate my feelings and fears? How could I do a good job and build strong relations? I started thinking that I had been too optimistic about my strenghts, I realised that I wasn't absolutely ready. Well, while travelling in a foreign country, I was also travelling inside myself. But I would have realised this only a few months later...

I've had the pleasure to be welcomed by the SCI-Belgium team in Brussels. It's the French speaking branch and they're a group of smiling people with plenty of energy. They are that kind of people who are ready to say that's their fault for a glass that you broke, if you know what I mean. Just a week later, I was also welcomed in the office of VIA, which is the Flemish Dutch speaking branch of SCI, by the only permanent office employee. An incredibly strong girl, soon renamed "the Viking". My train trips between Brussels and Antwerp were like passages between parallel worlds:  I had to deal with two offices, working teams, languages, cultures. It was amazing, but it was also frustrating. I wasn't really part of anyone of these realities: I was a stranger twice.

But I've had the chance to find an environment where sharing worries is like a duty, and I couldn't have found a better way to start feeling at home. We soon exchanged our experiences and non-experiences, that’s to say regrets and fears. In my case, they were fears about not being sufficiently active or helpful, about showing that I had to start from square zero.

But this is exactly the point: you can think you’re travelling alone, and maybe you had effectively planned your trip alone and you are only with yourself for the most of the time. But, in reality, everyone is looking for something, everyone is doing his personal trip. And in this personal research you can cross the others’ ways; for some months, some hours, maybe only just a few seconds. But it will be sufficient to understand that you're maybe not strenght enough alone, but that you have the possibility to build something even higher with a lot of other people. Call it a shared dream or a family, it's part of you as you're part of it.

They had told me it would have been an office job; I participed to music festivals and campings in lost flemish fields. I expected to find employees behind mountains of documents; I met people full of dreams and fears behind mountains of cookies and avocados. They had told me I would have worked in english; now I can say something of a certain sense in french and I'm used to listen to Spotify advertisements in Dutch.

People climbing the bars of a closed centre for asylum seekers. Steenrock Festival, Belgium (May 2016)

Three months are barely sufficient to feel at ease abroad, but they're decisively enough to grow fond with a lot of people: volunteers, workers, activists (borders are rarely clear). They're sufficient to leave a little piece of your heart behind you, and to let seeds be planted in you. I’ll bring them wherever I will go, and I promise that I will let them grow and that I will share their fruits. Because this is how it works when you get in touch with the SCI world: you can think you’re leaving it, but in reality you are an ambassador.

Thank you. For your time and your energy; for your patience and your comprehension; for your warmth and your openness.

See you soon...

VIA campleader training

Op  en 15 mei organizeerde VIA een trainingsweekend voor kampbegeleiders. Shane, lange termijn-vrijwilliger in het internationale secretariaat van SCI te Antwerpen, nam hieraan deel en deelt zijn verhaal met ons.

"I arrived at Wereldwerf with 3 others choosing unanimously to walk the last few miles to the site of the VIA Campleader training weekend. Arriving in good time we met and greeted some of the other people we would be sharing this weekend with. After a cup of tea we started off talking and discussing upcoming events for the weekend.

The soon to be campleaders at the training organised by SCI's Flemish Branch, Belgium. (May 2016)

We began a group dynamics session and discussed different workcamp scenarios including intercultural learning topics. After that we all sat together to enjoy a heartwarming dinner. The food was prepared sustainably by voluntary chefs for the weekend. The location was a community centre in a very serene and peaceful setting with very little interruption from the modern world. There was an eco-cafe, wood workshop as well as a wool and felt workshop which added to the harmony and charm of the environment.

During the learning process and the training I found myself outside my comfort zone, which I slowly come to know as a place that should be embraced as this is where the growth happens. The group discussions and role playing were great ways in which to learn new aspects of self-assertiveness. I very much enjoyed the back and forth role playing and acting out different scenarios that might take place during a workcamp.

During the weekend we had some down time to explore the surrounding areas. It was the definition of peaceful and inspiring. A place nestled among quiet neighbours and a charming elderly home. I imagine if you needed a place to reconnect and become inspired this would be it. The farm animals and countryside brought me back to my childhood at my grandfather’s farm. The chickens were organically raised and looked proud and curious in what was going on as I cycled past on a go kart made by previous volunteers at the centre.

I learned quite a bit from many of the people who shared and talked about their experiences on previous workcamps. Those who were in many previous workcamps had a lot of experience to impart. Tactics and diplomatic methods were divulged in situations one would hope not to arise during a workcamp. But experience is the spice of life. My understanding greatly increased around the work involved in the organizing and leading of SCI’s short term voluntary projects. You really have to take to take on many roles and oversee a number of different things that will be happening. Even though it is quite a people oriented, down to earth role there is quite a bit of overall responsibility involved given the happenings or problems that may arise.

At night we all joined in to build a fire and played music and danced around it. I stared into the flames as it transfixed my gaze remembering something intuitive yet primordial while everything seemed in its right place. Many of us joked and sang more songs while talking about the changes happening in the world and things we hoped to see.

It was a great experience to share and exchange thoughts and energies. I learned that with experience we can learn what we initially thought was impossible to learn. It was an inspiring weekend and I was very happy VIA organized it. I had the opportunity to be around people who were in there comfort zone organizing and leading a workcamp. I took on new challenges I thought I would not be able to handle. For example when acting  out the role of workcamp leader other people took on the roles of those attending. It was a spontaneous moment and I learned a lot about how to handle questions or difficult situations that might arise.

As the weekend came to an end, I thought of the rest of my EVS project, the summer and the workcamp that I will be helping with. I knew I had gained valuable experience and ideas from it that I will bring with me and share with others."

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