Testimonials 2021

« Thank you for all the work you have done in the last 10 years. What beautiful and good memories. Good road to the second Josefa House ». 

« To you, Josefa. I still remember, as if it were yesterday, when you received this beautiful name! And the path you have traveled during these 10 years. I wish you a very happy birthday, Josefa, a long life, many more surprising meetings and new innovative projects. All my affection and my unity ».

Excerpts from the minutes of the 1st « Foundation 11 » meeting - 23 September 2011

Everyone shared his identity, his journey and his motivation to be present: Annabelle, Bernard, Berengère, Daphne, Patricia, Louise, Jacques, Jean-Louis, Sabine and Nicolas and Gilbert.

Annabelle then clarified some of the usual terms related to migration and asylum before giving a brief overview of migration in the world, in Europe, and then in Belgium, to end with a quantitative and qualitative report on the reception and accommodation crisis in Belgium.

Gilbert presented in extenso the master plan of the « Foundation 11 » project and then dialogued with the participants, giving further details and information.

After a reflective pause on the amount of information provided (a reflection that continued throughout the day and beyond the meeting), a time of questions / answers and comments took shape. The reactions mainly concerned the following aspects of the project presentation:

  • The Belgian context, with its political, religious, institutional pillars, with its strong associative fabric and powerful « underground » institutions.
  • The two phases of the project (institutional and operational) and the commitment of the volunteers.
  • The skills required to invest in the project.
  • Partnerships: when do they intervene - when to activate them?
  • The ambition of the project: why such an ambition?
  • The location of the project, the place and the administrative/executive office.
  • The viability of the project was evoked in relation to the beneficiaries: what about the enthusiasm that the place could arouse: how to manage the possible waiting lists, to the extent of the desired quality of the welcome, in particular, in terms of living space?
  • The identity of the project is raised: Christian, humanist...? How to express it in front of the « Belgian social secularism »?
  • How to support the rights to health, education, access to justice, for the people welcomed?
  • The operationality of the project: why a single place and not several housing units, perhaps easier to manage?
  • The ratio between private funds and public subsidies in relation to the degree of autonomy and freedom of speech desired by the Foundation.
  • The risk (depending on the period) of inviting beneficiaries to participate in the construction of the project.

Some elements of response

Ø  Two phases

Gilbert wanted to assure the majority of the group that there was a continuum between what could have been perceived as two distinct phases of the project and what could have raised concerns about the adequacy of skills between the two phases. Thus, the investment in the "so-called" first phase (that of research, strategic construction and institutional structuring of the project) will serve the second phase all the better, which will be that of the implementation of the project, if these two phases can be distinguished. From then on, it is a matter of each person taking ownership of the project, according to his or her own abilities, right from the start of the project.

Ø  The ambition of the project / its concretization

The ambition of the project can, among other things, be explained by a combination of the personal backgrounds and experiences of Gilbert and Annabelle. It is clear that the figures put forward in economic terms and the desire to welcome 250 people per year are intended to symbolize both the ambition and the specificity of the project. As indicated in the presentation document, the project must fit into the existing situation and be nourished by partnerships, while privileging a strong ethical anchoring, with the presence of beneficiaries (direct or indirect) from the construction of the project and a real political capacity (cf. financial autonomy). Research-action prior to strategic formalization is therefore essential.

In terms of the House, a single location might be more effective in terms of project visibility than several small housing units. Would this "option" have the advantage of encouraging certain contributors (advisory support, volunteer work or material assistance) to (become) involved in the project? As for the questions related to the length of stay, like the choice of the place, its size, its architectural and environmental qualities, like the management of the House,  are the result of a precise definition of the beneficiaries and the acceptance criteria of these same beneficiaries (with regard, among other things, to their willingness to integrate and to the legal framework). Therefore, the research-action phase should allow the project team to select a "category" of beneficiaries (gender, age, nationality, profile...) and, similarly, partners. It should be emphasized that the project wishes to respect a dynamic of voluntary integration on the part of the people received.

The health and psycho-social support of the people (often traumatized by the violence suffered before or during their migration) is undoubtedly a key element in the success of the project; hence the importance of the choice of partners and the collaboration envisaged.

In fact, the success of the project depends on a clear formalization of, among other things, the institutional framework (presence on the board of directors or steering committee), the strategy (field of action, goals and activities) and the necessary means (financial and human resources, compliance with the legal and fiscal framework, access to information and expertise), before embarking on the operational side (activities, management and evaluation).

Ø  The identity and values of the project

In this sense, communication and visibility will have to take into account socio-political contingencies. If the spiritual aspect is at the basis of the project, as is the integral development desired for the people welcomed, it is no less true that the Foundation must, on the one hand, respect the convictional diversity of its team and, on the other hand, always remain open in terms of hospitality, as well as partnership. So, with discernment and vigilance, we will take to heart the notion of service, without excess of pragmatism, confessionalism or rationalism. 

Everyone was then invited to define themselves in relation to the project, according to their skills and their desire for commitment. At the same time, Gilbert shared with us his vision of the role that each one is expected to play. These adequacies will obviously be specified in individual interviews, during the first days of October.

The meeting ended with a playful session on the possible name of the Foundation, with respect to its logo or its values. The names and ideas of « focus, foundation, km 0, renaissance, springboard, rebound, spring, kangaroo, jump, bridge, bridge, couch, hostel, lodge, hut, stopover and rest » were expressed. The following values are also evoked: "hope, hospitality, welcome, solidarity, openness", as well as graphic elements "Chinese" house, blue world, suitcase and bird".