Magic carpet of music

Sarah and I spent two hours yesterday afternoon at the Fedasil Arrival Centre in Brussels, taping together page after page of poetry and songs into an enormous magic carpet of hope. Upon these pages were words from the hearts and minds of people from many places, all having traveled to Belgium with the hope of…

Welcome

A few weeks ago, on a particularly gloomy and frigid Monday afternoon, Sarah and I began writing words on a blank page we had posted on the wall at Petit-Château. Our “wall” is really two large wooden doors, but we have found that the packaging tape we use attaches far better onto the door than…

From Africa it’s a long story

The sun shone over Brussels yesterday afternoon, and I experienced the rare occurrence of being too warm for my jacket, scarf, and hat at the tail end of December. I set them on the bench by our open “office” space at a corner of the covered corridor at the refugee asylum center known as Petit-Château…

Life is long

This Monday at Petit-Chateau was grey, rainy, dark, and dismal. The previous Friday evening, I had visited the center for the volunteer appreciation dinner and joined staff and volunteers on a tour of the arrival portion of the center. We walked from one station to the next, learning about the process whereby those seeking asylum…

She will walk again

  With the recent very cold front that has swept over my little corner of Belgium, it’s difficult to imagine the warmth and sunshine that illuminated my November 25 Monday visit to Petit-Château was warm and sunny. As I sit and write from my kitchen table, a cup of coffee and big, white husky at…

Before the music

This Monday at Petit-Château was about as dismal at a November afternoon in Brussels can be. A friend came with me who had wanted to experience our poetry and songwriting for a long time. I am always nervous on these occasions because I want them to have a positive experience. My first snafu was nearly…

What gives you hope?

Monday at the refugee center was hopping. When I first began volunteering in January 2017, it had been a residential center. There were residents who have been living there for years, waiting to hear if they would be able to stay in Belgium. Over the past nearly three years of volunteering, I have seen the…

Free like a smile

Every Monday I visit the Fedasil Petit-Château Klein Kasteeljte is an opportunity to capture a moment in time in both poetry and song. My co-volunteer Sarah and I often take a bit of a pause in the summer months. It has been increasingly hot in Brussels, and it is important to allow for some downtime…

We want to live in peace

There are themes that seem to resurface time again in the time I have spent, volunteering at the refugee asylum center. When I worked with a woman from Macedonia on her song, I asked her to tell me her greatest desire. She responded, I want a peaceful life for my children. In several songs, people…

Singing in the new year

I have not written about Monday songwriting in a few weeks. It is ongoing, though there have been a few times I have not been able to join. The center itself has been in a state of transition since this past December, when the rules regarding the asylum process for Belgium were drastically changed and…