EDIW Brussels with undocumented immigrants
Through the analysis of the reality, the Youth for dialogue Brussels group decided to focus on the undocumented people community. Their reality is often invisible within the Belgian society.
During a long time, we observed, we studied, we analysed, we talked and exchanged points of view about the situation… thanks to the help of undocumented people, associations working with these people, friends that were expert on the subject. We entered their community and we let their stories strike us.
Through uncertainty and many difficulties, we decided to carry out our first event with a double objective: raising social awareness and empowering the undocumented people.
We organized it in their own home, the squat “Le bateau”. And we found out that yes, we could change things. We can do it. We found out how dialogue has the power to transform relationships. We found out the fears, the dreams, the aspirations of the community of the undocumented people. We found out that there are many people looking forward to change the society for the good of everyone.
From this event, more engagements arose. The event not only gave us new insights, but also provoked reactions around us. We witnessed an empowered community of undocumented migrants, that had recovered the trust in themselves and the desire to do something good together, despite adversity and repression.
Through months of preparation, Youth for Dialogue Brussels carried out an exhibit and several workshops at different universities to raise awareness about the situation of the undocumented migrants.
Neither the distance, nor the climate, nor the excessive weight of the posters for the exhibit prevented us from arriving on time to our daily date, to be part of this unprecedented series of events. For the first time, political parties’ representatives joined to talk face to face to an audience of university students, experts, and undocumented migrants, to whom they explained what their political position was on the subject.
Youth for Dialogue Brussels is proud to have organized more than ten workshops and created over ten posters for the exhibit to introduce the reality of the undocumented migrants to university or high school students. Luckily, we were not alone. During those days, we counted on many undocumented migrants from the Belgian coordination of undocumented people who shared their testimony.
Indeed, we received more than what we gave. We did not want to be the focus of attention. Rather, we wanted to be agents of change and spread the spirit in order to join forces to fight for the respect of every single human being’s rights.
Step by step, little by little, we are progressing on this way, by working for and with undocumented migrants, in collaboration with other people engaged in efforts for a fairer world where true dialogue leads to more inclusion, more participation, more democracy, more peace.
Madrid: contact with refugees teaches us about peace
EDIW’s group started this course to collaborate with the refugee program of Complutense University by creating small groups of leaders capable of transforming others and reality; people who reflect together, who inspire others, who generate ideas, share knowledge, experiences and effort; realistic and committed, coordinated and organized and impelled with a common cause.
Suddenly EDIW was growing. In addition to the existing group and the residents of the Colegio Padre Poveda, more participants joined from other universities who had heard of a project with a group of refugees from different nationalities: Syria, Palestine, Venezuela and Sahara. Some of them brought friends from Morocco and Mexico.
The first question came from the situation of refugees and asylum seekers: “How can we help them?” During the first sessions we welcomed them and listened to them. They told us their life stories, the lives behind all human conflict. We came to know their problems, their situations of vulnerability and their loneliness in the midst of indifference of a world in motion, unable to stop, not even to look at them.
Political parties debate
We tried to learn about the electoral platforms of the political parties and our effort was directed towards migration policies. We wanted to know what was needed to organise a session with the representatives of the different political parties and ask them what they know about migrants´ situations and what they as politicians could do to improve the former’s lives. We prepared the list of questions thoroughly, and the day came when both the future voters and refugees met in the hall of the Colegio Mayor. We all wanted to hear the responses of the representatives of the political parties, only to hear with their well-known repeated speeches We learned from that bittersweet session that reality is difficult to change, that there are many factors that influence it, and that not all of them are easy to address.
Our disappointment did not hit rock bottom because the next day we were told that the representative of one of the parties came, as a result of the session, to distribute blankets to t the asylum seekers, who lined up appealing for documentation.
We plan the sessions of the second semester from personal experiences backed by a solid intellectual background: we would study conflicts with rigor and enrich them with the experiences of each one of the refugees. Their pain, their struggle to escape from their countries towards a better future. Their experiential pedagogy would give a tone of humanity to maps, dates, figures, acronyms and names that would help us to understand in depth the true dimension that lies behind a conflict of a global nature.
We also dedicated several sessions to study the figure of the Nobel Peace Prize. The study to prepare the sessions was rigorous. What are the characteristics of a leader capable of guiding people towards peace? What does the community recognize in such a person?
We opened our minds by listening to lectures together with real stories of personal improvement and social leadership of women from DR Congo and Western Sahara, and we let ourselves be enlightened by them. The analysis of the Peace process in Colombia gave us many ideas. They told us how they took this process to the university and involved the young people bringing in us the desire to make EDIW known in other colleges, universities, schools ... our colleagues, friends ... anyone who wanted to contribute.
We want to continue building together, we have only just begun. We have discovered what difference we want to make impelled by an invincible impulse: love. Again and again this phrase is repeated in the sessions: Only the one who builds with love, builds peace. This is how EDIW is built up.
Text and photos: EDIW Brussels and Madrid.
*EDIW, Education for an interdependent world is a non-profit international association promoted and supported by the Teresian Association. It brings together young people from different countries offering training and qualification for an intercultural leadership with social values of equality and justice.
The mission of EDIW is to promote and encourage actions and projects aimed at building a more inclusive society with greater understanding in a multicultural and interdependent world in collaboration with universities, international organizations, schools, professional organizations and other platforms.