Vulnerable Minors in Brussels: Transition to Autonomy

Caritas International Belgium Vulnerable Minors in Brussels: Transition to Autonomy

Isabel Corthier

Isabel Corthier

21/11/2016

Title:

Youth in transit Brussel

Place:

Brussels (also in Liège and Mechelen)

Duration:

Since the 1st of August 2015

Public:

Unaccompanied Minors (MENA) having already obtained status (refugee or subsidiary protection) or a high rate of recognition

Objectives:

Life support towards autonomy, transition from material aid to social-financial aid.

These young people come from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia or Syria. “They are often suffering, have lived through things that are unimaginable. Learning to rebuild from all of this is far from simple,” comments Mathieu Gombault, project manager in Brussels.

REBUILDING A FUTURE AFTER EXILE

Our target audience is young people between the ages of 16 and 18 who have obtained status or have a high recognition rate and will therefore surely be granted status. The Youth in Transit project is a 6-month project. The goal is to support their transition to independent living.

The young people live in individual studios. We have 19 places spread over two Brussels municipalities: Saint-Josse and Laeken.

A REFERENCE PERSON FOR YOUNG APPLICANTS FOR INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION

For each youth, a referent, a professional collaborator of Caritas, is appointed. The latter goes to meet the youth in the reception center for asylum seekers, even before the move to our infrastructure. “There, an initial dialogue takes place and we explain to them our project. The important thing for us is to understand how the youth sees things and adapts to them,” adds Mathieu.

Another key element: to assess the degree of autonomy of the young person. “This is essential for us! This is the starting point for the construction of the accompaniment provided for the youth. On the practical side, the youth arrives here, signs his or her lease and will be responsible for his or her lodging, then, there is an internal regulation and an inventory is made.” Part of this independence is also managing money. When they arrive in the project, they receive a weekly amount that they can spend, and after that it becomes a monthly budget. Fedasil provides them with material support until they reach their majority.

PRIORITY FOR REFUGEE YOUTH EDUCATION

“The priority for us is to educate these young people. Therefore, paralleling the assessment of the youth’s autonomy, he or she also passes literacy, reading, and writing tests in order to evaluate the level of language and, more importantly, to better orient them. ”

Mansoor**, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee, was supported in his journey to become a chef and is now in training. He explains, “I work five days a week and go to school the other two days. Thursday, I cook. Friday, I have courses in French, economy, and math…”

>> READ: Mansoor’s story in its entirety 

WORKSHOPS FOR ACTIVE CITIZENS

Twice a month, often on Wednesday afternoon, the youths participate in various workshops organized by Caritas. “There, we discuss budget management, health education, citizenship, they cook together and learn to eat healthy…,”. The team also organises sports and cultural activities: cinema, museum, amusement park, camps etc. These are privileged moments that make it possible to break the young person’s isolation, promote integration into the host society and develop active citizenship.

Footnote :

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