June 13, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

Complete News World

Host families in Brussels receive refugees: “We do the government’s work for free”

Host families in Brussels receive refugees: “We do the government’s work for free”

A frequently heard echo is that the traumas of flight are not discussed unless mentioned by the migrants themselves. “We let each other live,” says Mary Weiner. “Ninety percent of my housemates came via Turkey or the Mediterranean. I keep quiet about it and they don’t show it. They always laugh. Although behind this appearance there are terrible stories. I remember a man from Darfur with scars on his back and traces of handcuffs around his wrists.”

Other families speak of Eritreans who spent months in prison and then, as they escaped, were sold into slavery in Libya’s construction industry. Or there are stories of attempts to reach the UK. “A young Eritrean man spent the night with me for a year and a half,” says Françoise Klein. He made an attempt every two weeks. Sometimes he was taken out of the truck, other times he was in the wrong truck heading to Sweden. He then sleeps completely exhausted for three nights until he is finally able to cross the North Sea.

Single women

There are likely other informal services in Brussels to house migrants. What role do mosques, Pentecostal churches or recognized refugees now on dry land play? However, the reception families of Cherche Relais are mostly Belgian and middle class. Andrea Rea, a professor at ULB University, talks about in a study that 88 percent are women, the majority of people are highly educated and in terms of age the largest group is between 51 and 64 years old. “We actually house a lot of older single women,” Mary Weiner confirms. “At first I was a little afraid because I was mainly hosting men. This fear is legitimate, but it often turns out to be unfounded. What’s more, lasting friendships often develop later on.

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