16 October 2014

The Netherlands

Inauguration of a new project for young people

Amid great interest the official opening of the “House To Be” in Nijmegen took place on the 4th October. Religious compassion is at the foundation of this project which offers boys aged 12 to 17 from the same area a place where they can take a break from their own lives. The project is an initiative of two congregations, the Marist Brothers and the Dominican Sisters of Neerbosch.

During the opening celebration Sister Angèle Schamp explained how the “House To Be” has come about. It was Alderman Frings who encouraged the Marists to reflect on the need for a place that might serve, in some way, as a shelter for young people. The Marist Brothers then invited the Dominican Sisters of Neerbosch to join them in the project, which they agreed to do. And recently other benefactors have joined in as well. The Sisters of Julie Postel wish to be co-responsible for the project, offering spiritual and financial support.

Earlier this year the City of Nijmegen decided to subsidise this private initiative for three years. At the opening celebration Alderman Tankir, who replaced his colleague Frings who could not attend for reasons of illness, emphasised the importance of providing care and assistance in a setting which strongly resembles the participants` own living situation. This helps them to keep in touch with their own social network, and the domestic context helps the accompaniers to create a sense of caring and involvement on the part of society.

The accompaniers who live in the house are “care parents”, Wilma and Wim Janssen, a married couple. The aim of the project is to prevent the boys going off the rails; to fill the gap between ambulant care and court-ordered placing in care. The care parents cooperate closely with an organisation which, if necessary, can offer professional accompaniment and personal advice to the boys.

Wim Janssen shared how he and his wife, when they first visited the house in July 2013, sensed immediately that it would be a very suitable place to live with young people. From that day it took another year before the first participants could move in – a time of gaining information, building a network, consulting with all parties, looking after practical aspects such as furnishing the various rooms. Dimitri, the very first participant, performed the opening ritual by cutting a ribbon and unveiling the nameplate. The doors of the “House To Be” are open to boys who may benefit from some extra attention to help them feel that they matter.


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