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  • Retired Belgian helps refugee to find work in Belgium

    Julian A. Jacobs, 16 May 2017

    Francois van Vyve is a 65-year-old retiree, who have been involved in the area of placement and career coaching for over 30 years, heeded the call to become one of Duo for a Job first mentors in the newly established Antwerp office. Francois van Vyve is a 65-year-old retiree, who have been involved in the area of outplacement and career coaching for over 30 years, heeded the call to become one of Duo for a Job first mentors in the newly established Antwerp office. 

    Francois met his mentee, Karam Najjar, a refugee from Syria, about three months ago and immediately they struck a connection with each other. They are now at the half-way mark of their six-months mentoring relationship. Francois is helping Karam to find a sustainable job so that he can support his young family.

    ‘We are all refugees’ said Francois, ‘maybe over a century ago or somewhere down our heritage.’

    He relates his own migrant background story. ‘My grandmother was born in 1881 in Lorraine, France (the north-eastern part of France and on the border of Belgium and Germany) where she and her parents were going to immigrate to North America. The region was in conflict with Germany. My family decided to leave the area. They came to Antwerp and were to leave via the Red Star Line ships to America. The same week they were to leave both her parents died because of influenza. She was an orphan and grew up in foster care. She remained here. She got married to a Belgian man and hence I am here. We have the same story of being a refugee and having to settle in a new foreign land because of war and other reasons. I am happy to be involved in this project and to help Karam.’

    Francois is a Belgian, who has worked for 10 years in the maritime insurance business before he started his outplacement (recruitment) and coaching business which lasted for 30 years. In this time, he has worked with young people to find their true vocation in life.

    “A year ago, I met Frederic Simonart through friends of mine who were mentors in Brussels. I was immediately charmed by the organization and its professional approach. I was impressed with what they were producing and impressed with their results.”

    Francois said that he grabbed the opportunity to get involved when he was approached to help out in Antwerp. “Initially, I was asked to brainstorm some of the ideas because of my expertise in career coaching. I was hooked and it clicked for me. I then became one of the first mentors in Antwerp.”

    Francois says that as a professional in this environment, he was always passionate about this work. ‘The main aspect or the most positive aspect was relating to someone else and the interaction with people. You grow so much by letting people grow themselves. And the enrichment you get from this is amazing. I love people and working with people have given me joy over the years, especially the younger generation and the young entrepreneurs and even with my own children.’ This attitude he felt could be of good use to Duo for a Job by helping them reach their full potential, which included mentoring young migrants and refugees to find a job ultimately but also to grow as a person.


    Mentoring Program makes a difference

    DUO for a JOB matches young job seekers from diverse backgrounds with people over 50 years old who have a professional experience in related fields and who can accompany and support them in their job search.

    The young person (mentee) and his/her mentor meet for a minimum of two hours a week over a period of six months (of course, flexible arrangements can be made to accommodate their respective agendas)

    DUO for a JOB provides services to young job seekers and future mentors in Brussels, Liège and Antwerp.

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