Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Michelle Sequeira and I work as an Application Expert in the IT department of Blogistics. I take the train every day and noticed the large number of homeless people at the North Station in Brussels. Seeing these people every day and watching their situation get worse and worse really touched me. Over a year ago, I started volunteering with an association at the north station. We bring food to these people three times a week and socialise with them. However, the association is planning to stop this project at the end of the year. I decided therefore, to start my own non-profit organisation in June to keep the project going. Starting in January 2017, we will provide food to 75-150 people 5 times a week at the North station, and we will have a building where we can start welcoming some of them to shower and wash their clothes.
Our presence at the North Station has a real impact because we build relationships of trust with the homeless. This gives us the opportunity to understand their needs and help them find facilities and other organizations that can help them improve their situation. More importantly, it has a real impact in the prevention of petty crime, depression, etc.
In this world where people are more and more isolated, I feel it is important to reach out to others and create connections. I hope our organization helps our supporters remember that we are all humans and even though we have different backgrounds, everyone has the right to be treated as such.
What competences would make you a good Generation T?
I am a Belgian of Indian origin and born in the Congo. My family moved to Belgium in 1991 after civil war broke out and it became dangerous for us to stay there.
I am 27 years old and speak fluent French, English and Dutch. I am also a professional Bharatanatyam (Indian classical dance) dancer.
I have a Masters degree in Information Management. I have worked in different environments: I worked for a year as a consultant in the UK, I worked for a year at BNParisBas in Brussels and I am now working at Blogistics in Brussels. My strong business background and diverse experience has been critical in helping me create this nonprofit organization where I need to set realistic goals and find the financial means to achieve them.
My diverse background has given me an open mind and has enabled me to learn how to contribute in many different ways. I have learned to work with individuals from different walks of life (cultural, political, business etc.) and I believe that identifying and encouraging unusual collaborations is the key to accomplishing great things.
I learn quickly and find it easy to adapt to new or difficult situations. I work well independently as well as in teams and am not afraid to face new challenges and work hard. I believe I would be an excellent addition to the Generation T team and can start adding value quickly.
Give specific example(s) on how your projects or activities make a difference and initiate change.
In June 2016, I opened a non-profit organization to help the homeless in Brussels. Our objective is to be up and running in January 2017.
We have already accomplished a great deal:
I have purchased a building not far from the North station which will be split: the upper level will have two apartments rented out to cover the bank loan. The ground floor will be used for our activities - cooking for 75-150 people five times a week and providing 2-3 showers, toilets, washing machines and dryers.
We are working on various funding strategies. We hope to build partnerships with supermarkets, Banques Alimentaires and others to get free or discounted food and supplies. We are organizing different fundraising events such as concerts, meals, performances, classes to educate people about what we are doing and raise money. We are also looking for grants, sponsorships and collaborations with schools, companies and other organisations.
Although it is only a few months old, this project has had a tremendous impact on the people involved. Connecting directly with people on the streets and realizing that we are not so different inspires us all to be more open minded and aware about the needy, the refugee crisis and the problems of homelessness. It is often easy to ignore these issues as far removed from our daily life but I hope that this organization will not only help solve these problems but also bring light to the real, human impact of the things happening in the world around us.