On the weekend 15th – 18th October, four British volunteers attended the DBYN ‘You(th) for Human Rights Congress’ in Groot-Bijgaarden, Belgium. Rachel Cortes and Simon Treacy represented BOVA while DBYN UK was represented by Emma Stringer and Chris Knowles.
The Congress was an opportunity to bring together around 50 young people active in Salesian organisations across 12 European countries. Once we had successfully navigated their way to the host Oasecentrum, everyone gathered on the Thursday evening and got to know the other participants.
The following day, the Congress proper was kicked off in imitable style with some inspirational words by Don Fabio followed by a talk by the DBYN President, Fr Bob, on the importance of safeguarding. Then we all took part in a few activities designed to inspire a deeper understanding of the concept of human rights. To top it all, the day concluded with a human rights themed tour of Brussels and a traditional Belgian dish of moules frites. On the Saturday, there was a quiz to test our knowledge of the other organisations represented at the weekend. We were then challenged to incorporate our ideas on human rights that we had developed and take them into our day-to-day work with young people.
Of course, the weekend had its fair share of social events and fun activities, through which we learned how to cook traditional Belgian food and make human rights-related badges, the importance of punctuality and why you should never run behind a moving vehicle. The weekend was a fantastic opportunity to be part of a meeting of other young people involved in Salesian projects across Europe. It was invaluable to get to share ideas and be inspired by the everyone’s varied experiences.
Overall, the weekend was superbly organised by our Belgian hosts and was very enjoyable. We hope to follow up the inspiration by continuing to raise human rights awareness through our respective roles with BOVA and DBYN UK.