Civil society and migrants working hand-in-hand for hope

For nearly a year now, I’ve immersed myself in one subject: migration.

Academically, I’m working on my masters in the subject, and have studied theories, law, identity, economic and sociological matters related to migration. Studying translates to sitting in several lectures a week for three months and then spending the fourth month in cafés writing end-of-term essays, and at the end of it I’ll have a paper saying I know something about migration.

When I’m not in a café or a classroom, I’m lucky enough to interact with the subject that I study—which is an awful academic way of saying that I work with refugees for SB OverSeas in Belgium and Lebanon and with several NGOs in Greece. These couple months I’ve shared with you snippets of our work in Belgium with SB Espoir (like that time when the youth won the football game against my university, enjoyed music together, and learned some new negotiation skills, to name a few).

In July and August I was in Greece working with an NGO that provides legal aid to asylum seekers – I was a Greek interpreter at the Athens office where I translated asylum decisions, interpreted documents at our law clinics at the office, camps or squats, accompanied people to the asylum offices and frequently got stuck in never ending phone tag within the Greek bureaucracy. Looking back on it, it’s easy to be pessimistic and just angry about the bad policies, the neglect and the violations of human rights and dignity of so many people. I won’t lie, many days that’s the headspace I find myself in; the political environment (both in the EU and back home in the US) only exacerbates the hopelessness for any improvement.

Other days, I get good news.

One of the teenagers at the centre in Brussels gets refugee status; the students in Saida pass their exams to enter the public school in Lebanon;  a friend and fellow interpreter in Athens gets his family reunification ticket to Germany and is finally able to see his daughter; a new father gets his appeal upheld and can stay in Athens with his fiancé and her daughter.


Happy International Volunteer Day!

Last week we thanked our wonderful volunteers for their dedication to brightening the future of children and adults in Lebanon and Belgium.If you'd also like to develop your skills in the fields of international development, education and migration, why not join our Lebanon volunteering programme? You will also have the opportunity to take Arabic classes.Applications for 2019 are open!Read more about our work in Lebanon and how to get involved here:

Publiée par SB OverSeas sur Lundi 10 décembre 2018


All of this good news would not be possible without the support of civil society: organizations like SB OverSeas, the Red Cross and individuals like the ones that our projects and programmes rely on. In Greece the strong grassroots unity and solidarity work to give a voice to To give espoir – the hope as is promised in our name, we rely on the positive spirit of the volunteers, the most dedicated of which participate several weekends a month and build relationships with the youth.

Our volunteers in Lebanon bring their creativity, spirit and skills to enrich the lives of the children in our schools; as Caroline Bullen, Project Development & Communication Officer for SB OverSeas put it in a message to the volunteers themselves, “You came with an open mind, countless ideas and a shared passion for humanitarian work that added value to our centers.” This is evident when we ask students ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ they will say teacher because of how much they like their teachers. Recently, the volunteers even assisted our staff to the Accelerated Learning Program testing school, where they accompanied our students to the pre-test. Despite the long wait and registration issues, our volunteers were true champions and started helping out with registration and even overseeing the test.


A few weeks ago, some of our Saida volunteers prepared a wonderful meal at their apartment and invited all staff from the center to spend some time together and thank them for their support.

After two months in Athens, after every weekend with the youth in Brussels and each time I read a report from our schools in Lebanon I become more motivated and reassured that the hours I’m spending in the lecture room and in cafés is worth it. Together with the volunteers—the backbone of SB OverSeas—we will work to retain the passionate and effective civil society and build on it to give everyone a chance at a brighter future.

Consider joining the SB OverSeas family in Lebanon or in Brussels as a volunteer or intern.