In 2015, an unprecedented wave of refugees and migrants came to Europe looking for a safe place to live. In Brussels, many of them were forced to camp and live at the Parc Maximilien. Witnessing this disastrous situation, volunteers at Serve the City decided to take a small yet significant step to make a difference: bring them a cup of coffee.
Fast forward to 2020, dozens of non-profits are collaborating together to bring hot meals every day at the park. Due to the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the city of Brussels decided to relocate all food distribution activities to the Quai des Péniches, as a temporary solution before opening a proper centre. Our dream ultimately came true when the Red Cross Distribution Centre opened its doors in October 2020. This centre provided a decent structure to distribute food, where the refugees and migrants can enjoy their meals with a roof over their heads.
A secondary centre opened in December 2020, where the beneficiaries can stay all day long, to take a shower, charge their phones, have a cup of coffee, or simply relax. Within this new day centre, we developed additional projects and activities for the refugees and migrants: a library, a game zone, and English lessons. During these projects, volunteers and beneficiaries can get to know each other and have real discussions and interactions, instead of being divided by the line at the food distribution.
A new challenge ahead . . .
Recent developments at the Red Cross Centre led Serve the City to take over additional shifts of food distribution. Since February 2021, we now prepare and serve 1200 hot meals per week! In addition, we also distribute more than 400 hot drinks and deserts 5 times a week.
While these extra shifts have been rewarding, you can imagine that they come with their fair share of challenges. Food outreach projects are essential, yet extremely costly, and they considerably increased our monthly budget. We are now looking for ways to make these projects viable for us. Would you like to support us and become a monthly donor to fund our food distributions? Any kind of donation can make a big difference for us! Donate here.
Back 2015, we probably would not have believed all that has been accomplished, just from a cup of coffee. But thanks to the relentless dedication of our volunteers and their powerful impact, many great opportunities have blossomed. Never forget that many people doing small things can make a big difference!