How am I integrating myself? My great experience with JAVVA ASBL
Written by Mahmoud
Integration is the most important thing you should think about it. Why? Because it is the key to understand the culture and getting more opportunities in new country.
To do that, you should apply what I call “The golden rule” which says:
“Hello, my name is ………., I am ………., refugee in Belgium”.
fill the empty places by your information. But what does it mean?
It means you should not be afraid from introducing yourself as refugee because it is not your fault to be refugee.
But you should be careful also because this rule has 2 sides:
The good side: To use it with good people.
The bad side: To use it with bad people. But don’t worry, every day the number of good people are increasing.
I am going to tell you about my story in volunteering and how I am integrating myself in the European community.
October 2016 was the first time I started volunteering in international camp with JAVVA ASBL. I remember being stress and I asked the help of one staff from the red cross to introduce myself to the volunteers because I was volunteering from the red cross not directly from JAVVA.
The first person I me was Clem, a girl from France, she was so nice and we started to talk immediately and she helped me to meet the rest of the team.
All the people were welcoming me and we started to have conversations and being friends.
The workcamp was for 14 days and it was really great days we had together and my birthday was in the middle of the workcamp so the people celebrated with me and we had lots of fun.
During this workcamp I met 2 people from JAVVA ASBL and we shared our emails and they welcomed me in their future projects and the training for being workcamp leader in the summer.
The sad day came, we had to leave the center, all the volunteers were sad because we really spent great moments together.
We cooked together, danced, worked and played games, I remember when that my birthday was in the middle of the workcamp and all the volunteers celebrated my birthday and I had great day.
After this workcamp I decided to do another workcamps and try to make the world better (crazy dream I know :D).
Till this moment I still in touch with those volunteers even we saw each other’s in the 2017 new year and summer 2017,
I did the training in summer 2017 and I met also nice people there and I had good 2 days.
After the training I had new ideas for the workcamp specially after they accepted me a leader for Nonceveux workcamp.
I was happy to be the leader of the workcamp in Nonceveux specially it is the same center where I was living and I know the area very well and the staff.
My workcamp starts 22 of September, on 4 of September, JAVVA contacted me to do a workcamp staring on 4 of September.
I wasn’t sure if I will go or not so I told JAVVA to give me sometime and I will tell them if I will go or not. I called me friend “Ali” and I told him like this ” Hey, we will go to do a workcamp, prepare yourself we are leaving soon ” I didn’t say anything more and the surprising thing that he said ” OK “.
The meeting was at 4 pm but we couldn’t go at that time so we arrived at 8:15 pm in the train station.
We met Marti and Saimoune and we welcomed another volunteer coming from South Korea.
We arrived to Marsinne castle and we met the other volunteers. They welcomed us very friendly and they were happy when they knew we are refugees (me and Ali).
Next day, Marti took us and showed us the area then we went back and started to work. I had to leave on 8 of September because I had an appointment and I was really sad because I wanted to stay and enjoy the whole workcamp with the other people but I couldn’t but we shared our facebook accounts and now we are very good friends.
I discovered that I shouldn’t have say to JAVVA “give me sometime”, I should have say “Sure, I will do it” because really I had great time with them and we meet always in Liege and we go to bal folk parities together.
Today is 22 of September and it is the first day of my workcamp as a leader, I was excited as it is the first time for me as leader.
I prepared a plan for the workcamp and I was hoping to do it all and make a lot of activities for the asylum seekers.
This time, there was just 4 volunteers, 3 girls and I, we started the workcamp just 3 of us and the other girl came late.
Not everything I planned I did, I had a lot of changes and we had to work for the center a lot this year, but I was fine for the team which was good.
We did some activities like visiting the forest, cooking for the center, help with the trail and dancing.
For the 2 weeks it was good time, we had fun and enjoyed it. Maybe not a lot of people knew about use because we were just 4 but that is normal.
We traveled to Bruge and Gent cities also in our holiday.
This workcamp gave me lots of experience in how to lead camps and I learnt a lot from my mistakes. Now I know which activities should be done and which better to do.
You can say it was good time and I met nice people in this workcamp.
After my workcamp the time fly and the year is finished, before the end of the year I saw a training in the Netherlands about integration of young refugees but I need like sending organization to do this. As I am not working but volunteering in JAVVA so I asked them if I can apply and for sure they welcomed the idea and they helped me to fill the application.
Fortunately, they choose me to do this training and it was great opportunity for me to improve myself and meet new people.
The training was from 20 to 24 of February, I spent very good time in the training and I made new friends and new connection and because of this training I will be doing an EVS (European Volunteering Services) in the Netherlands in summer.
Why I am telling you this? If you remember from the first part the golden rule:
(Hello my name is ….. I am …… refugee in Belgium)
If I didn’t use this rule, I won’t get all the opportunities that I am getting now.
It is important to not be afraid from being refugee, it is not your fault, people want to help, don’t be afraid to ask help if you need because the people will help you don’t worry.
Now I have very good relation with JAVVA team and they helped me a lot and they are helping me and I am sure they will help me in the future.
Thank you from the heart and it was pleasure for me that I have met you, you change my life.