Lucia and Margot are just 23-years-old. One comes from Italy, the other from France. For their adventure abroad, they came to Louvranges last summer. “Every day here is a new discovery, both from a professional and personal perspective,” enthused Lucia. “I am always learning something new: how to give a baby a bottle, speak with children when they are upset, work in a multidisciplinary team. . .”
EXCHANGE OF EXPERIENCES
“I wanted to grow my experience, to learn how to help these women in their path to being self-sufficient and regaining confidence,” Lucia continues about her motivations. After years of educational experience, both volunteers were ready for practical experience.
Margot: “I did my studies on the subject of migration and I have been involved in the defense of migrant’s rights for several years. The moments that I appreciate the most from this volunteer experience have been when we’ve been able to learn from each other. Since my arrival here, I have already learned a lot about the asylum [international protection] procedure in Belgium.”
And it is not just their professional skills that are growing with their volunteer work. Margot continues, “I gained a human experience thanks to the relationships that I formed with the women, what they say about their culture, their country of origin… and thanks to the inner strength that they have.”
These two young women have also followed the evolution of the residents, gradually gaining their trust. They also speak about these special moments: “Some things that make me happy are when the women begin to smile again, to open up, and when they say their first words in French,” comments Lucia.
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CREATIVITY IN TIMES OF COVID-19
Like everyone, Lucia and Margot were surprised by COVID-19. It disrupted life at the Louvranges Housing: the activities stopped and the team was reduced, with a large part moved to remote work. “In normal times, the families like to spend time with each other outside of their houses, such as in the courtyard and the garden. These moments together are the ones that we missed the most,” recounts Lucia about this difficult period.
However, the team is far from just sitting around, they organize “COVID-proof” activities. “For example, we organized a clown show in the courtyard, where the families could watch from the comfort of their windows!” explains Lucia with pride.
Margot has also adapted to this new way of working. Even with the restrictions, it is important that the residents continue to gain their independence: “I introduced myself to the women individually, for example to help them with their cellphones (making appointments and using GPS to find their way around).”
“It is as important for us as it is for them to continue to develop their autonomy, even in unfavorable conditions. I still hope that the restrictions are reduced this summer, so we can enjoy our relationships with the families before the end of our time as volunteers in August!” she concludes.