CBB's Hyphen for Inclusion – Marche-en-Famenne
Looking for one volunteer
Hosting and support organisation -
Compagnons Bâtisseurs Belgium
The Association of Compagnons Bâtisseurs, aka CBB, is a non-profit, non-political Youth Organization recognised by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation of Belgium. The organization proposes different kinds of activities, mainly based on volunteering and non-formal education: local and international work-camps, youth exchanges, medium and long term voluntary services, weekend workcamps including leisure time activities for and with people with mental disabilities.
All these activities would not be possible without a network of 420 members, 250 international volunteers during the summer, a team of 14 employees and 3 ESC long term volunteers supporting us at the office. As we are a Youth Organization, most of our public is aged between 16 and 25 years, even if there is not upper age limit to integrate our groups of volunteers. Within our members, one person out of ten has a mental disability.
CBB especially promotes an inclusive approach of the public; we strongly believe in the richness of diversity and we take action to favour the heterogeneous character of our groups of volunteers. Therefore, the members of the association (+- 420 people) are from diverse origins and capacities.
CBB hosts a total of about 26 international volunteers around Wallonia. The ESC team of CBB tries its best to connect this network of volunteers through different collective activities, seminars etc…
As mentioned before, CBB develops different projects which mainly focus on group dynamics. Through these projects, the association encourages the inclusion of people with fewer opportunities and people with learning difficulties or disabilities.
As an ESC volunteer, you will get actively involved in our activities, from the preparation to the evaluation. Your role will be to facilitate, together with CBB leaders and other CBB volunteers, the participation of people with fewer opportunities or disabilities in those activities.
You will participate in CBB actions:
- the programme “Volunteering, Leisure and Disability”
- the organisation and hosting of international projects, such as workcamps, youth exchanges or thematic workshops involving youngsters with less opportunities
- the training to become a young leader of summer camps
- local activities, organised by CBB (cultural evenings, conversation tables, language clubs)
- collective activities with other volunteers
Each year, CBB organises around 20 residential week-ends for people with disability. We also organise 2 or 3 camps abroad in which the ESC volunteer can take part. Around 20 persons participate in each of these projects; more than half of them have a mental disability (mostly learning difficulties and Down syndrome).
Other activities developed within the program “Volunteering, Leisure and Disability” are the cine-club, which happens every two months on Friday evening, as well as monthly board games evenings.
The programme “Volunteering, Leisure and Disability” aims, one one hand, to raise awareness about disability among young people, and, on the other hand, to facilitate the participation of people with mental disability in CBB projects. We think that spending time doing fun activities together in a mixed group increases awareness and removes barriers between people.
In a “Volunteering, Leisure and Disability” activity, the ESC volunteer will have a staff member of CBB as supervisor, and will spend time with both other volunteers and people with mental disability.
Although there are other local volunteers in most of the activities, the ESC volunteer plays a more important role. Indeed, together with the staff members, the ESC volunteer will be in charge of the planning, organisation, and evaluation of residential week-ends, summer camps and evening activities for people with mental disability. The tasks will be varied, according to the skills, interests and abilities of the young volunteer.
Below you can find examples of tasks related to the organisation of a residential week-end:
- Before the week-end: with a CBB staff member, you search for an accommodation, plan the menus, cultural and sports activities as well as touristic visits
- During the week-end: together with a CBB staff member and local volunteers (usually 1/3 of the group), you welcome the participants, provide individual support to the people with disability (this may include sanitary support), encourage the group dynamic, with a game or during a visit organized for the weekend. A CBB staff member will provide you with information about each participant. You will take care of 1-2 people, and assist them with simple tasks, like making their bed, reminding them to change their t-shirt or accompanying them during a cultural visit. We are cooking together and it is a great opportunity to discovery new cuisines. Depending on the season, the places can be a Christmas market, a bowling alley, a swimming pool, a recreational park, a medieval festival, and many other things… This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know new places all around Belgium as every weekend is organized in a different place and offers different activities!
- After the week-end: after two days off, you evaluate the activity with the CBB staff, and send pictures to the participants.
As an ESC volunteer, you will also take part in other projects, including work camps and youth exchanges. Your aim will be to foster the inclusion of youngsters who are facing difficulties.
You will be part of the CBB animators’ team, with whom you will organize a trainings for summer camps leaders.
You will be in charge of the good implementation of the training and you will have the opportunity to take initiatives, organize your own workshops and bring new ideas to the table. Being involved in this training will enablemake you more aware of group management, animation techniques, and the organisation of activities.
In this ESC project, we really wish that you will develop a personal initiative. Any idea of a new activity is welcome!
Accomodation in Marche-en-Famenne
Compagnons Bâtisseurs asbl offers the unique opportunity to encounter plenty of international exchanges while being located in a small, 17.000 inhabitants town in the French-speaking part of Belgium. From our office, in the center of Marche-en-Famenne, we organize projects all over the French Community of Belgium (Brussels and Wallonia) and maintain close partnerships with non-profit organizations from all over the world. This unique situation will allow the volunteer to share the semi-rural lifestyle of the area, but also to meet young people from different places of the country as well as to be in contact with people from the other side of the world.
The volunteer will live and mostly work in Marche-en-Famenne (except some activities that will happen outside the town), which offfers all modern facilities (shops, supermarkets, sports centre, cinema).
For the urban-life-style-lovers, it is, however, IMPORTANT to know that our town is located in a semi-rural area. Even if it is not far away from the biggest Belgian cities (57 km from Liège, 106 km from Brussels, 47 km from Namur) and well connected by train, Marche-en-Famenne can sometimes look remote and very quiet.
The country - Belgium
Squeezed between the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France, Belgium is one of Europe’s tiddlers.
The north is flat, the south dominated by the picturesque Ardennes and the 65km North Sea coastline monopolized by resorts, except for a few patches of windswept dunes. The 4 seasons are well divided, cold and white winter and warm and sunny summer… But be ready to grey sky at least haf part of the year.
But the belgian population are usually warm. A lot of cultural and free EVENT in the street happen during the year, which brings your journey in this little country funny and ressourcefull.
This project will be taking part in the south of the country which is french speaking. Be therefore ready to learn and speak french .
- Specialities : FRIES and BEERS and FESTIVALS
- AREA: 30,518 sq km
- POPULATION: 11.420.163 million
- CAPITAL: Brussels (pop: 1.191.604)
- REGIONS: Flanders (North), Wallonia (South), Brussels – Capital
- COMMUNITIES: Flemish, French and German speaking community
- LANGUAGE: Dutch (±59%), French (±37%) and German (±1%)
- CURRENCY: Euro
Working hours will be flexible and involve participation in evening events, as well as in school holidays and weekends. 5 days per week will be worked on average. Days off will compensate the extra shift hours if necessary to keep an average of 38 hours a week (French lesson included). The volunteer will generally have two consecutive free days per week except for special events and has the right to two days of holiday per month.
You will receive a budget and will prepare your own meals.
Participation in the European Solidarity Corps is free of charge, except for exceptional contribution to travel costs. You will therefore receive free board and lodging during the whole activity. In addition, you will receive pocket money for personal expenses throughout the duration of the activity, including holidays.
You will live in a house that will be shared with 6 other volunteers. It is located in the centre of Marche-en-Famenne and has all the modern facilities.
EU Academy + French lesson. We provide an online language course as part of the budget from the Commission. You will need to complete a level test before the activity starts. We encourage you to join free French lessons given in the municipality or around if possible. We recommend that the participant starts practicing French prior to their arrival in Belgium and that they participate in as many activities as possible in order to get better at the language.
You get covered, throughout the activity period, by the obligatory European Solidarity Corps insurance plan (Henner) that the European Commission sets up. This coverage is only complementary to the mandatory coverage of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which you must obtain prior to departure.
In certain cases, when national rules deprive participants from coverage under EHIC for the duration of the placement, Henner will provide full coverage. However, you must provide proof that obtaining the EHIC in your case was not possible. You should contact your National Agency for advice on your specific circumstances. You must read carefully the insurance-related information here.
Profile of the volunteer
- Aged 18-30 years old
- Open-minded, curious, enthusiastic, empathetic
- Able to work in a team, with different target groups, and in a multicultural environment
- Ready to propose, take initiative, discuss and give your opinion
- Flexible in terms of working hours, which do not correspond to a classic schedule
- Before departure, being in contact with a support/sending organisation to receive information and preparation
> Look up for a support organisation in your region via this link
- Project open to everyone, regardless of their nationality, religion, believes, diploma, or professional experience
- Able to give copy of certificate of good conduct related to the work with minors before starting the activity
- Our project is open to anybody motivated by volunteering and who wishes to be involved in our organization and working in the field of inclusion, regardless of their nationality, religion, believes, diploma, professional experience.
- We expect the volunteer to:
- Be able to communicate in French at a reasonable level as they will share a lot of time with people with mental disability who do not know any other language;
- Be highly motivated to work for a better social participation and inclusion of people with disability and fewer opportunities;
- Enjoy group life and to be ready to participate in several residential week-ends and camps in company of lots of people;
- Appreciate office and computer work, as several tasks in this project also concern the preparation and the evaluation of the activities which are done at the office.
Almut, volunteer at CBB 2023-2024
Dear future volunteer,
Welcome to Belgium and at Compagnons Bâtisseurs!
My name is Almut, I’m 25 (sadly not for long anymore), and I come from Italy. I am currently in the middle of my volunteering project but it actually seems to me that I’m at its end. Time flies! At the beginning I thought that 10 months would have been too many, that I needed to start working and earning money, but now I couldn’t be happier with my choice. My agenda is so full of exciting projects, activities and events, that I am afraid of the day in which all of this will finish. Every day is a learning experience and this is the main reason why I am so glad to be here and to have applied to this project.
Yes, Marche-en-Famenne is a small town and it can appear boring, but I am never bored because there’s always something going on: festivals, karaoke night at La Maison des Jeunes, a show at La Maison de la Culture… And you can always ask your future flatmates to go for a walk in the forest, go to the swimming pool, cook or watch a movie together. I really love our house and my flatmates.
I am mostly busy on weekends because I go to various places in Belgium to have fun with people with disabilities. The goal is to give them the opportunity to have fun and to socialize during the weekends. For example, my first weekend here was at a medieval festival, but it can be any fun activity, like shows, amusement parks, visit to a science center, and more. In the past 6 months, I’ve never traveled so much. I have been to the Czech Republic, France, and Germany, just for work reasons!
I am also involved in many other projects. If I am interested in something, people at Compagnons Bâtisseurs are more than willing to get my help. For example, since I am passionate about climate issues, I will animate a youth exchange about sustainable consumption. Moreover, I’ve created some colorful sheets about food storage using Canva.
CBB people, as well as the Belgians, are incredibly welcoming and they make you feel as a part of their projects. Yeah, of course, it’s not always a bed of roses, sometimes I felt lonely, sometimes I felt I was just one of many other volunteers who would leave soon. However, they make you a part of the association, they let you participate in their boring meetings (but this means they are including you in the decision-making process), and most importantly, they are eager to listen to your opinion.
Long story short, I wish for this experience to never end.
Tamara, volunteeer at CBB 2018-2019
If you are reading this it means that you’ve heard about Compagnons Bâtisseurs Belgique already. In case I’m wrong, go google it now – something worth knowing !
When I was accepted to start my one year EVS (ESC) project in Marche-en-Famenne in October 2018, I’ve received my project description. One rough literature giving me facts like:
You’ll be living in a small town of the southern-French-speaking part of Belgium. You will stay with 6 housemates in two-storey house. You’ll be organizing leisure time activities and residential week-ends for and with disabled people. You’ll be animating work camps and youth exchanges for youngsters with less opportunities. You’ll be managing some of the paperwork and computer work in the office, etc..
No one said how much fun it will be to dance with two best friends with Down syndrome. With which passion the guy without motor skills in half of his body plays the ukulele. No one said either that you’ll have to clean your disgusting dirty fridge yourself. No one mentioned how hard it is to miss your best friends birthday or graduation party. Nor that you’ll be the one saying ‘butt’ instead of ‘neck’ in your non-mother tongue (NOT KNOWING YOU SAID IT). That you’ll make an omelette in a cooking ladle just because your housemate was wondering if it was possible. No one tells you how annoying it is to explain million times to a person with mental disability not to touch anything in the museum. Or that maybe worms will hatch in your compost during hot summer. No one said that you’ll find new family and have a friend from every continent (except Antarctica?) at the end of the project. Or that you’ll develop sugar addiction because of the amazing taste of Belgium chocolate. You couldn’t know how honest and devoting the hug from a person with Down syndrome is. Or how significant mom’s soup can be when you’re sick. No one warn you how long you’ll need to adjust on having rainy day every time you planned to spend a day out – because that’s how Belgium works. No one prepared you for countless times of being the only person at the table not understanding the joke. But neither for the sense of pride you’ll feel when you become capable of understanding someone with speech defect on the language you didn’t speak few months earlier.
I will add one advice for you regarding your future housemates. No, don’t let them cut your hair, hairdresser is expensive but worth it. And yes, you should definitely try super strong and awful alcohol whose name you can’t pronounce from their countries. That’s how a good story starts.
There are tons of things you won’t know until you try. Some of them will be delightful and some terrifying. Every experience is unique and depends on you. So go, apply on that project you cast an eye on and make it your perfect year.
Tamara Ivanić (25, Serbia)
Michele, volunteer from 2015 to 2016
I’m Michele, I’m 35 years old and I come from Italy but it is quite 5 years that I live in Belgium.
I work for CBB for quite 4 years starting to make coffee, but italian coffee is too strong so now I make pasta for all. Ok I’m kidding. At CBB (I don’t spend time to explain who are CBB. You can explore our super nice website) I’m animator and coordinator of the local projects that we organise in Belgium as International Workcamps, Volunteering Week-ends, Camp Leader training, etc… but my story starts… A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY…
Stardate April 2015.
It was a long time that I was looking for a job. I thought that I was wasting my time, I was loosing my hopes and my energies when suddenly I discover the Erasmus + program and the EVS (now is called CES). And why not ? I really needed a change, an earthquake in my life. It was my last year to participate so I started to send application everywhere. The beginning wasn’t so encouraging because I didn’t received many answers and they weren’t good. I was thinking maybe that I’m too old and organisations were looking for people younger than me but… one day CBB and Belgium knocked at my door, not physically but…
The person choosed for their project declined at the last moment so they needed someone available to come in Belgium soon. They was interested in my profile, I was interested in their project and so my story with CBB began.
But before I had to say goodbye to my mom.
Actually I completely forgot to say to my mom that I was looking for a one-year project abroad and so the day when I was accepted the hardest thing was to say: “Hey mom how are you? Next month I will go to Belgium for one year”.
After one week of crying we went together to buy a big suitcase.
My year of volunteering was a really nice experience.
My project started in october of 2015 and it consisted in helping CBB with their activities with mental disable people. So for one year I had the opportunity to discover Belgium with them and with other volunteers during week-end trips. And now organising activities with disable people is still a part of my job.
During the week I look for activities to do together, planned visites, prepared the menus, did some administrative tasks… and the week-end I was on the road. From Friday evening, when we met with disable people and volunteers, until Sunday afternoon we stayed together, we prepared the meals together, we helped them to prepare their beds and arrange their stuff, we played games (always UNO), we had karaoke or disco night, we made activities together. For exemple I remember that one time we slept on a boat and one time on a old train, we went to the beach, medieval festivals, zoo, natural parks, brasseries to drink… coca cola. I have a lot of very nice memories.
We organised also a week trip in Portugal during the summer and I was in charge to make the planning. Quel voyage !!!
I was also included in many other activities because CBB make a lot of things!
During my year I lived in Marche en Famenne, a semi rural village in the french speaking part of Belgium, and I a shared a house before with a belgian lady that spoke only french and me, at the beginnig, only english so we had dinner with me, her and google translate. After some months I shared the volunteer’s house of CBB with 4 others european volunteers lived in Marche en Famenne. A really nice experience also because it was the first time that I lived with so much people.
After my year I was so lucky that CBB was looking for someone and they propose to me a job. So here I’m.
My life changed completly and it was by chance.
To conclude the only advice I want to give to you is to keep open mind, be curious and don’t hesitate to ask.
That’s all folks.
Michele Curto (35, Italy)
How to apply ?
Deadline: November 23rd at 11:59 a.m. (Brussels time).
1. In the frame of the new program of the European Commission, the European Solidarity Corps, you first need to create a profile on the new data base: https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en (“JOIN THE CORPS”).
2. Answer the questionnaire below – scroll down a bit if you can’t see it (NB: you will be asked to attach a CV at the end of the form)
3. (optional) if you’re feeling creative, please feel free to send us any addtional material related to your application: firstname.lastname@example.org
The creation of a profile on the ESC portal AND fulfilling the form are compulsory for us to take your application into consideration.
In the days following the application deadline, the pre-selected volunteers will be contacted for a Zoom meeting
Please answer the questionnaire in FRENCH or in ENGLISH only