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Study Visit in Liège, Belgium*

In the European project KA1 "Builders of creative and collaborative knowledge", the association Samba Résille organized a mobility activity for 8 people among its paid and volunteer staff for 2 days in Liège in partnership with Views International, Belgian structure with know-how host and support for people with visual impairment.
In this context, the Samba Résille delegation was able to discover the working environment of Views International and its actions to support the development of the autonomy of the blind and visually impaired young people through volunteering projects.

In a nutshell, Samba Résille has been working for many years on the teaching of batucada (Brazilian percussion) with the Institute for Young Blind People (IJA) in Toulouse, and its musician, Gregory, works in collaboration with specialized educators. Exchanges are regularly held between the management of both partners on the need to qualify on the capacity to develop the accompaniment of visually impaired people in European mobility.

We were able to discover the basics of hosting young blind and visually impaired adults in Liège, the work that is done with them on their own empowerment, the accompaniment to daily life on various aspects (mobility in the city, autonomy in daily life, French language courses for non-French speakers, etc.) as well as the legal and organizational framework of these voluntary services.

The main point of this presentation was for us to discover how Views works to develop EVS in the best possible conditions for their year abroad (material comfort, emotional and social security).

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Come on, we dive into the real deal as soon as we got there, with meeting Adela, the current volunteer from Views who works at the IRHOV (Royal Institute for Hearing and Vision Disabled). We visited IRHOV primary school, and met some of the visually impaired children of the school, then the secondary school, discovering the vocational training offered to the visually impaired and other young people at IRHOV (dysphasia, polyhandicap , ...) such as cooking, mulching and repairing chairs and armchairs, also mechanics and woodworking.

The most interesting was the adaptations made for Adela’s project. In fact, Adela's work initially focused on computer and Braille support for young visually impaired people, but according to Adela's wishes and in agreement with IRHOV and Views, she switched to teaching adapted cooking for visually impaired. We were able to see how host structures can adapt and reformulate projects so that the young person can develop as much as possible in their EVS. Then, Tamara, one of the volunteers of Views (daily living skills), proposed us a very important action for the sensitization: the touristic stroll and the cultural discovery of Liège!

The team was able to discover the most important monuments of the city of Liège, like the climb of Bueren (it's high, it's long ...), the pleasure of the changing weather typical of the city, with a sudden and violent pouring rain while beer tasting (oufti !!!), the home of the peket, the waffles, finally the small specialties which allow everyone to feel at ease in a city! :)

We visited the apartment Views hosts the EVS volunteers. This is a 3-bedroom apartment. It was interesting for the team to discover the few adaptations for the blind in the apartment. We were also able to meet Carine, another Views volunteer whose task is mobility, followed by an exchange with the team on its actions and tools (ex: tactile map of Place Saint-Lambert).

Then we went to see the other two structures that co-host volunteers with Views, Baraka and the Coordination of Sainte Marguerite.

These two organisms welcome EVS on various actions:
- writing articles for the magazine “Salut Maurice!” of the Coordination and French courses for the newcomers of the district;
- training and awareness-raising activities for Baraka.

With these two structures, we also find the same adaptability and the same desire to make EVS better integrated into the structure and its environment for the best possible experience.

The return of the young adults was dithyrambic; everyone loved all the activities offered. This allowed us to discover the city, the hosting structures and their adaptability, also the prerequisites necessary to volunteer under the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) at Views in the future.

The young people who came to this mobility have all shown interest; some of them expressed their desire to do an ESC later, after their studies for example.

The general conclusion is that the IJA would be delighted to develop a partnership with Views on the regular sending of ESC to Liège.

And to finish in style before flying back at 7 am the next day (very early, I admit), the last visit to Liege, the last beer, and good moments of conviviality :)

Many thanks again to Views, IRHOV, Coordination Sainte-Marguerite and Baraka for their welcome and availability!

We have stars in our eyes!

*This is an English summary of the activity report. Read the full content of the activity report (fr)