Youth ACT Brussels Group


Our EDIW Brussels group is an association of young internationals from all origins and educations, who’ve received a frame to act for the ideal society they have the intent to live in. The group of Brussels was created towards the end of 2017. We are 9 members in the group. The members have been quite volatile since most of them are here for studies or work for a very short duration.

The oldest member of the group who has contributed to a lot to the group in previous project “Youth for Dialogue” and is still with us is Khaola. Most of the others have been with the group for about two years or less Magda, Emi, Maria, Sophia, Theo, Donal, Yann and Chafik. Most of the group members live in Brussels with a few in Leuven. Meetings have been mostly via Zoom over the last few months.

Our group has decided to focus on homeless people, who are a forsaken category and at the same time one of the most accessible. We’re more focused on enhancing the lives of the poor and homeless who face challenges and struggles in their day to day lives for essential needs. The group’s idea is to provide the homeless a platform where they can share their stories for their voices to be heard and responded to. We strive to be the invisible homeless people’s medium of communication to everyone who can act for the betterment of life but don’t realize as they are invisible. We chose this community because they are vulnerable, approachable, affected by Corona, neglected by society &also by the government. And we want to make a positive impact. We want our decisions to add value to the society. We journeyed thru the decision making process by listening to everyone’s opinion, respecting the opinion of the majority, allowing a common reflection, having rich debates and learning to accept.

Our ultimate goal is that people trust our online platform and have the desire to help the individual, or this social group in general in the days to come. We have managed to converse with a few homeless people to know more about them and we have witnessed some of them leaving the streets for a better quality of life. We have observed that they are also interested in telling their stories to the world if that could help them have a better life or just help them live in a better place.

At the moment, we’re working on the development of our online platform where we will be able to post stories of the homeless people in the form of videos. The online platform will also have other information which will help the homeless people have access to their basic needs like food, shelter home for woman/children. We will act as a bridge between the homeless people and social associations who come forward to help them in different ways. We hope to build the trust and confidence with which we can help as many as possible.

Social Media

Youth-Act Belgium - Decision-making. By Magda Alcalá and Emilia Paniagua

The trip of the Youth Act Belgium group connects with a previous one carried out in the project “Youth for Dialogue”, in which a group of young people of different nationalities, who coincide here, get involved in the cause of undocumented people in Belgium as a host country.
In the “Youth Act” project, some of the young people from the previous group got in touch again and invited others who wanted to join in. We built on the experience gained in the previous stage and planned a new journey together, motivated by the desire to have a positive impact on our surroundings in the
context of a pandemic.
Relaunching a group in the circumstances we have experienced, and doing so in a virtual format, was not easy, but we nevertheless recognise what we have learned and are happy with the path we have taken as a group.
The period of greatest involvement was during the semester dedicated to “Decision-making”, in which, beyond reflecting on the subject theoretically, we were confronted with practical decision-making, from the details of the internal organization of the group, to other more complex ones such as the subject to work on and the level at which we would do it (state, group or individual). The process was very interesting and we did it in several stages.
We started with a first approach in which each person proposed a topic, indicating the level at which they considered it most appropriate to approach it. After listening to the arguments of each proposal and detecting some convergences, we recognised three groups on which we could focus and decided to divide into three groups to work separately on each issue and thus formulate a proposal that we would take to the next meeting of the whole group. In all three cases, these were vulnerable groups whose situation was aggravated by the health crisis: elderly people in residential homes, elderly people living alone and homeless people.
For the formulation of the proposal, each small group had to answer some questions: How can we reach this group? How can we assess their needs? What concrete action can our group take to help them in times of Covid? How can we link this to the decision-making process? Once the “field work” was done and shared with the rest of the group, each member had to choose one of the three proposals (not necessarily their own) and argue their decision. In this process, we valued the fact that each member presented his or her option and that this was received with respect by all, that each member could give his or her opinion on the matter in an equally respectful way, to have a constructive space for joint reflection and the capacity to accept and accept the decision finally adopted.

We started by deciding to focus on the group level of decision-making and then decided to focus on homeless people because they are vulnerable, they are accessible, they are affected by COVID in a particular way, and they have been neglected by society and government. This approach allowed us to get to know better the group we wanted to get involved with and the existing resources for their care, thus detecting possible unmet needs to which we could try to respond from our possibilities. Evaluating this balance was also very important because, aware that there are many material needs and that we are unable to meet them, we asked ourselves: how can we contribute with an action that is within our reach and that would provoke a response that we would be unable to provide with our resources alone? In this process we became more aware of the importance of the human aspect – and not only the material aspect – in the resolution of large-scale social problems, and making it visible is a means to achieve this. For this reason, we finally decided that our contribution could consist of developing a digital platform (“Act Platform”) that could make the real stories of people living on the street visible, through which people or organizations that wanted to learn more about this reality and help to transform it, could get in touch either with the homeless or with the organizations that are dedicated to them. The key to our position is, therefore, to build bridges.

Logically, this whole process has had its ups and downs. Among the challenges, we recognise external conditioning factors such as the coronavirus pandemic, and other internal ones, at the group level, such as a horizontal mode of operation that in some cases has resulted in a lack of coordination, of specific objectives and of a sense of progress, and at the personal level, such as managing the disappointment generated by the frustration of one's own expectations.

Among the achievements, we value the fact of being able to agree and disagree, to listen, analyse and ask questions, the ability to adopt an inclusive decision-making process, to define concrete objectives, to encourage the group to respect deadlines and above all to reflect together as a team. In summary, we could say that our project to build some bridges to reduce distances in a society as fragmented as ours was forged through the bonds we forged between ourselves as a group in complex circumstances and, above all, that the effort was worthwhile.