Welcoming refugees with open arms
Bij Ons Thuis vzw is a non-profit organization that was founded in May 2018 as a volunteer initiative. The organization is built around two refugee houses in which several refugees are housed, and a buddy operation with 25 buddies who support newcomers. In a broad sense, the organization tries to fill the gaps that are left with the Belgian support system of refugees by the federal and local governments. The support and guidance the organization offers includes shelter in the refugee houses, support with legal procedures, education support, learning the language or looking for work, even offering guidance to start their own business. But there is also attention for outings, driving lessons, vegetable gardens and so on.
Why it matters:
LEWIS team member Evi Coune has a personal connection to the charity. Her mother-in-law is one of the founding members and is very involved. She was the one that made Evi aware that refugees who are on track to become Belgian citizens often lack a support system to integrate into our society, and having a job is the best way to do that. The charity offers a very practical and supportive approach to help people get jobs and learn about all they need to know about Belgian culture. This is so important to them and they make such huge differences in the lives of these people.