This post was written by Abriel Schieffelers
As we begin the holiday season and look back on Oasis Belgium's 10th year, our team recently took time to process the past year and remember all the stories of transformation and hope we've encountered, but also the stories of loss and pain. As with everything else in life, it’s hard to see day-by-day the difference we’re making, but when we look back on months and years, it’s incredible to see how much growth we’ve witnessed.
In September, the Welkom Project said goodbye to a woman we had worked with for a long time to help get out of a difficult situation. In the beginning of the year she was diagnosed with a terminal disease, and fought bravely until the end. We are grateful for the time we got to know her and we were touched by her gratitude towards our team in her final days.
This year, we witnessed the growth of the Buurtbar project. It's now reaching more elderly people than ever before, partnering people with common interests together, and has been featured in local newspapers.
One moment of celebration for the Welkom Project this year involved a young mother returning home to South East Asia after she was caught in a violent relationship here in Belgium. After deliberating for a long time whether to try to stay here or go home, she made the decision to return home and has since found a job. We’re thankful that she was able to exit this abusive relationship, get the help she needed while still here in Belgium, and that her and her child are now safe and reunited with their family.
One woman the Welkom Project met this year returned to her abusive partner. While we know that the decision to stay or leave is always in the individuals hands, we are saddened by the statistics that tell us the abuse is unlikely to stop. However, we are hopeful that in the future she will be able to make the difficult decision to walk away from the relationship — for herself and for her young children. We have hope that she will find community, meaningful work, and safety in the near future.
There are still so many women in Belgium in situations of exploitation. Many women from Asian countries move to Belgium hoping for a good relationship and a lucrative job but are met with disappointment, horrible work conditions, and abusive spouses. Our Welkom Project meets these women where they are — in house brothels, over a cup of coffee, at the social services, and in the courts — and makes sure that have everything they need to be able to envision a better future.
There are many lonely elderly people in Belgium, living without loving touch, conversation, and human interaction in nursing and assisted living homes. The Buurtbar brings community into these lonely places, providing high quality tea and desserts as well as providing fun, conversation, and activities.
Many children in Belgium live in families that are struggling to make ends meet - especially families without papers who are unable to find stable income. The Brussels Project partners with a nearby school in an impoverished part of Brussels to provide Christmas presents for parents to give to their children.
This Christmas, we’re asking you to partner with Oasis Belgium through our 9 Campaign. Simply giving 9€ a month can make the difference between loneliness and community, exploitation and safety, fear and hope. What are you willing to give up this year to stand with us?
Please stand with us by joining the 9 campaign. For 9€ a month, you’ll receive a thank-you note from our team. For 18€ a month, you’ll receive a hand-made gift from our partner organization KoffieKlap. For 27€ a month, you’ll receive one free ticket to our 11th Anniversary Gala in 2018 (date TBD).
Happy holidays from the Oasis Belgium team!