WHAT DO VOLUNTEERS ADD TO YOUR PROGRAM?
Nathalie Braun: Working with volunteers is extremely enriching for the Caritas team and for the families. Volunteers who sign up at Louvranges want to use their skills and be at the service of the families they welcome. The benevolent relationship that volunteers develop with the families they support is an important aspect of our program. It encourages women and children to trust other people little by little.
Another strength that volunteers have is that they can give a lot of time which is something that the team cannot always offer. In this way, the presence of volunteers supports the team as well.
WHAT ARE THE GUIDELINES FOR VOLUNTEERING AT LOUVRANGES?
Nathalie: We have fairly strict guidelines and each volunteer knows what their role is and what their limits are, even if the limits are not easy to define. It is sometimes frustrating for volunteers who would like to do more, but these guidelines are in place for everyone’s protection: the families as well as the volunteers. Moreover, these guidelines guarantee our educational objectives of the project.
We try to welcome, train and support the volunteers as best we can. We remain available for those who have questions. It is not always easy to work alone with a family for example. And of course, the festive moments and exchanges between volunteers are also very important to unite the group.
DO YOU HAVE AN ANECDOTE OR A STORY ABOUT A VOLUNTEER WHO LEFT AN IMPRESSION ON YOU?
Nathalie: Two come to mind: volunteers who adapt…
One day, Jean accompanied a lady to a doctor’s appointment in Louvain-la-Neuve. Upon arrival, he parked his car in a parking lot in the basement. Yet on the way, the lady’s baby had fallen asleep and she asked him if he could take care of it during the appointment. Jean accepted with a good heart but the appointment lasted longer than he thought: the lady had unfortunately gotten lost and couldn’t find the car… Jean did his best to calm the baby who cried and wanted its mother. However, everything ended well, the lady had taken Jean’s cell phone and a passerby helped her find her way back.
The second anecdote takes place at a big market in Brussels. Maria leaves with three women from the Logis to go shopping for a festive meal. They agreed to meet at the market exit 30 minutes later. But at the agreed time, Maria doesn’t see anyone at the meeting point. Maria is worried so she calls us to get the ladies’ phone numbers but they don’t answer. Maria decides to leave and on her way to the car she sees the three ladies who are quietly waiting…at another exit in the market!
WANT TO GET INVOLVED?
Caritas organizes the reception of applicants for international protection in different structures. Volunteers are active in the reception centers of Louvranges and Scherpenheuvel (i.e. a collective reception center located in Flemish Brabant). It’s easy to join these teams: join the waiting list (FR).