Picture credit @Regina Mukondola
In April 2020 we launched an online appeal for food donations to help us support the African students affected by the Covid -19 lockdown. People especially those from the African diaspora community responded to this appeal by donating not just food but also money to pay for food items. The project achieved its goals with the support of our partners including especially those active in the regions with African students such as Kwabre Ne Sekyere Belgium, Mfantesman vzw, Kente FM, Sankaa vzw, United Zambians in Belgium (UZB), Vocals for Christ vzw, Chakula asbl and Igbo women organization vzw.
For the first phase of this intervention, we received a total of 970 euros in donations from 24 individuals resident in Belgium. Food donations were also received from individuals and organizations. However, the support that made a huge difference to this campaign was the subsidy of 10,000 euros received from the Roi Boudwijn Foundation Belgium. All these enabled us to expand the reach of this covid-19 intervention.
To insure an effective process, we had volunteer coordinators overseeing the distribution of the food donations in different cities. This initiative was a success because of the dedication of these local coordinators too. The following volunteered as coordinators for the project -
Brussel: Regina Mukondola, Theo Opoku and Erasmus Dazie (student)
Leuven: Dennis MensahHasselt : Amanda Lazmon and Henry Ojo-Kolawole (student)
Leuven La Neuve, Mons, Namur and Charleroi : Aluba Kalu and Juliette Nijimbre
Gent: Fynn Dodo, Diana D Anthony and Blaise Beme (Student)
Antwerp : Elisabeth Severino Fernandes
Subsidized by the Equal opportunity unit of the Belgian ministry of Justice, the Humanitas project is an initiative of the food bridge vzw in collaboration with Sankaa vzw, Centrum voor Agrarische Geschiedenis, Photoresk, Heritage centre Antwerp, Red star line museum, Nollywood Europe and other partners. This project embodies everything that the Latin word Humanitas represents in the thoughts of the philosopher Cicero. The importance of man as a cultivated being, in control of his moral universe. A person who lives according to the ideal of humanitas is aware of his self-worth, respectful of others, correct in social interaction and active in his political role.
There are many issues today that encourage polarization of the different racial groups and leave no room for dialogue on a human level, with no exchanges on experiences that people value. Dialogue which if entered into, without prejudice and condemnation of the other, shows that we all share similar values and want to pursue a meaningful life. The Humanitas project brings together women and young people from different racial and cultural backgrounds to discuss the important circles of life through food (such as marriage, child birth, funerals). Women play a very important role in families and communities. They mold the lives of young children, influence the type of adults they become. Thus engaging with them, will help create a positive reaction to the diversity of ‘differences’ and ‘otherness’ we find in our society today.
The sessions are held in Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent and Leuven. Each group of participants presents food from their culture relevant to the theme being discussed. The aim is to show that we as humanity share the same values and can start meaningful dialogues, to create synergies needed to initiate small changes that can lead to major changes in interracial relationships.
The sessions are filmed and photographs taken will be part of an exhibition later, at the closing event and in different cities, working in cooperation with the Flemish heritage centres. There will also be an illustrated booklet for children featuring themes from the project.
Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have made changes to the sessions. It is no longer accessible to everyone because we have to limit the number of participants. However, more people will be able to experience the sessions and follow the objectives of the project through the film, the exhibition and the booklet.
The Helping Hand Project