In 2015, Europe was facing an unprecedented wave of refugees and migrants, looking for a safer place to live. In Brussels, many of them had no choice but to gather and camp at the parc Maximilien, without a proper shelter. Witnessing their disastrous living conditions, volunteers at Serve the City decided to take a small but significant step to make a difference: bring them a cup of coffee.
Fast forward to 2020, dozens of non-profits are now collaborating together to bring hot meals every day at the park. However, due to the beginning of the pandemic, the city of Brussels decided to relocate food distribution to the Quai des Péniches, as a temporary solution before opening a proper centre. Our dream came true when the Red Cross Distribution Centre opened in October 2020. This centre provided us and the other organisations a decent structure to distribute food, so that the refugees and migrants were finally able to enjoy their meals with a roof over their heads.
In December 2020, a secondary centre opened its doors, where the beneficiaries can stay all day long, to take a shower, charge their phones, have a cup of coffee, or simply relax. This new framework gave us the opportunity to develop additional useful projects for the refugees and migrants. In 2021, we started a library, a game zone, and English lessons. Volunteers and beneficiaries are now able to know each other and have real interactions, instead of being divided by the line of the food distribution.
A new challenge ahead . . .
Many recent developments at the centre led Serve the City to take over additional food distributions. Since February 2021, we now prepare and serve 400 hot meals 3 times a week. Additionally, we also distribute hot drinks and deserts 5 times a week.
While these extra shifts have been extremely rewarding, you can imagine that they also come with their fair share of challenges. Food outreach projects are essential, yet extremely costly and our budget was considerably increased. If you would 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!