They came from a distance

Caritas International They came from a distance
Caritas International They came from a distance
Caritas International They came from a distance
Caritas International They came from a distance
18/03/2016

They came from a distance, Antwerp, Cork, Namur, and had to catch the train early to arrive to Brussels on time. Some people knew each other a little, others not at all. Some had warned that they did not know how to play any instruments at all, others knew a little. Twenty-five young people without any instrumental knowledge who, in the period of a single day, form an orchestra? And give a first concert? It’s possible! And it was fantastic to see. And do.

The group consisted of 15 refugee minors and 10 students from the International School of Brussels. All come from a distance: Congo, Australia, Iraq, the United States, Afghanistan, Germany, Iran. Everyone knows what it means to grow up in another country, and it’s not always obvious. Especially if, like unaccompanied foreign minors, it is necessary to fend for themselves, without familial support.

The cultural center of Laeken, the House of Creation, where we meet today to play, contains a treasure trove: a place filled with musical instruments. We were spoiled with many choices: trombones, a drum, a flute, guitars, an organ, a triangle, trumpets, and a cajón.

The first notes of the day sounded hesitant. Let us not be afraid of words, it was a beautiful chaos, but a funny chaos.

Minor refugees, once admitted, may turn to several people for administrative questions, but often this contact remains formal. The young people then find themselves prey to isolation and solitude. In such a situation, contact with other people is usually complicated, and yet so crucial: to be able to share his or her day, to share ideas on the different ways to make friends in Belgium, to go out, and to achieve a level of mastery of the new language.

The language of today is music. The conductor, Baudouin de Jaer (One Day Orchestra) handles and knows this language well. He winks to the left, shakes his hand to the right, plays the violin, harmonizes the notes of the young refugees with those of the students of the International School.

Often, unaccompanied foreign minors have few friends: they meet a few people speaking another language in the centers or in the classes for those who do not speak Dutch nor French; they have little contact with young Belgians their age, with whom they can practice their apprenticeship in Dutch or French and when they meet these young people, language remains an obstacle.

That is why Caritas International continues to try to bring these young people together. We organize these appointments once or twice a month with events such as sports, cooking, or cultural outings with young people of the same generation, but with very different experiences – be they Belgian or international. One comes from Guinea, the other from England, thus, young people who have never had contact with young refugees have had the chance to meet them in a context where questions and misunderstandings can be managed by a coach from Caritas International. In short, a sharing of experiences, stories … and, in this instance, music.

In front of the curious public, during the private concert, the young people vibrated together to the rhythm of the conductor. Enchantment, chaos, and uncertainty transformed that day into a symphony.

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