The Covid crisis has had undeniable repercussions on international exchanges. However, the Bureau International Jeunesse has put everything in place to continue to support young people and remote projects.
As soon as the governmental measures were taken to go into lockdown and limit international travel in the wake of the health crisis, the Bureau International Jeunesse (BIJ) was keen to react to support its beneficiaries and continue to assist with their remote projects, keep them informed, organise selections and maintain their funding.
It therefore had to adapt. The BIJ chose to offer young people many opportunities to travel during the crisis (while following the applicable measures) to stay on the same project, even if it was within the country.
"Since mid-May, the BIJ has sent out mass communications to promote the Bel'J programme which enables young people to volunteer, and youth exchanges in Flanders or in the German-speaking Community," explains Véronique Balthasart, BIJ communications manager.
"We introduced a little flexibility, in particular in terms of the application deadline, to quickly meet the needs of young people who are interested in volunteering projects," she adds.
The Bureau International Jeunesse also temporarily proposed an adaptation for the Tremplin Plus, Artichok (young artist mobility) and Entrechok (young entrepreneur mobility) projects, which was to fund any online participation in an activity organised by an international partner (training, conference, etc.). Five training courses were supported.
Calls for projects
"The BIJ also promoted the Mini mob call for projects, which encourages young people to 'travel outside their neighbourhood' to discover other realities, environments and places," adds the communications manager.
Furthermore, faithful to its values of mutual assistance and solidarity with the most vulnerable, the BIJ launched the ‘Citizens in Action' call, which aims to support urgent and local solidarity initiatives. Around forty projects were selected, illustrating their impact on the importance of keeping young people who have dropped out of education on projects, and the need for many to get involved to have their place in the community. There is a broad variety of projects, such as making food packages, school tutoring, cleaning playgrounds, activities with elderly people, setting up writing workshops, support to vulnerable families, exhibition about solidarity centres, young people creating a fresco on their vision of the world after the crisis and more.
"Every day, we receive examples of projects that all teem with creativity and where more than ever, they are committed to acting with solidarity and taking constructive initiatives at the heart of the crisis. They are bringing about change and will more than ever be at the heart of the transformation that will effect the world after Covid," concludes Véronique Balthasart, arguing that the BIJ will continue to support them and adapt its programmes if necessary.
"I wanted to contribute to a more sustainable world"
Among the examples of Bel'J volunteering, there was Jéromine's project with the charity Boskanter, which defends the environment and promotes local produce consumption initiatives. "I chose the Boskanter project because it matches my values and my desire to contribute to a more sustainable world." I wanted to learn the techniques of permaculture. So I'm spending part of this summer transporting wood, planting lettuce and cucumber and picking courgettes, tomatoes, plums and apples as well as blackberries and redcurrants... then I eat them after having cooked them various ways. I also speak Dutch and English with the managers and other volunteers," explains Jéromine.
By Laurence Briquet
This article is from the W+B Magazine n°149.