The Refugee Project Maastricht was called to life in February of 2015 with the vision of building bridges between the newcomers from war-threatened countries, the students and the Maastricht locals. Our aim is to connect students and locals of Maastricht with the asylum seekers on a level where they can meet, connect, become friends and get to know the structures, habits and belief systems of each other.
We try to avoid the traditional term of 'help' which we believe creates social gaps. We opt for an approach aimed at building mutual understanding, solidarity and a sharing of our cultures. We organise social events, languages tutorials, sports and musical events with the aim to create personal opportunities to grow, connect and challenge ourselves.
Is that enough? To try to make friends? No and yes. No, because there is professional help needed to create viable living environments which cannot be done only by students. Yes, because that's the only way, we believe, to break down the barriers that prejudice builds and live together in harmony. We do not believe in the idea that refugees are dependent on the community in which they arrive. We are surrounded by hopeful, inventful and intelligent people that wish to develop in their own way. We do not help; we support and we encourage.
Changing our vocabulary, our daily habits, our perception; seems like small thing to do, but we believe it changes the whole concept of having 'refugees' in our community. Instead of just calling refugees our 'friends', instead of 'helping the ones in need' we want and aim to experience new ways of living and to build meaningful and lasting relationships. That makes the difference.