Brogniezstraat 54, 1070 Anderlecht

Van maandag t/m vrijdag van 9.00 tot 17.00 uur

A roof over your head and papers

Adults Since 2021, Maks vzw has started a specific project for Syrian Doms. Ismael works with this group as a career advisor, partly because he speaks Arabic fluently. Syrian Doms’ main request for help.
How does it work with this group?

Overall very good. The project grew very quickly. We started proposing it ourselves to CPASs and municipal services and also conducted campaigns to inform the target public about it. Our network expanded and we made a lot of progress in the meantime.

Why does this target group need a specific project? What are their specific needs?

First, because there are no, or at least very few, projects or agencies that specifically target this group. The Syrian Doms are a new population group in Brussels. They are not well known to the organisations and they do not know enough about the city and the existing networks. Our project is something very new for them and it is achieving great results because they really need guidance and support in many areas such as language, administration, job search or medical issues. They have a lot of distrust of official bodies or people they do not know. The result: a very closed community.

Within this project, we create a relationship of trust with them and provide real solutions. We see this because they appreciate our work more, they visit more and now also call on us for others in their community. First we help one person, then his cousin comes, then a friend of the cousin, … they talk about our project around them because they notice that progress is being made, and that their problems are being solved.

Can you illustrate some common situations or problems, where you help?

One of the common problems is where to live. Often they are not registered with the municipality, or do not have a residence permit, and consequently no official place of residence, so they are stuck. Or sometimes they have problems renewing their residence permit several months before it expires because they cannot read their letters properly, or they put them aside assuming the problem will solve itself. Eventually, their file expires and their residence permit expires, which in turn creates problems for rent, finding a job, accessing government support such as CPAS, etc. Following municipal administrative procedures is also often problematic; registering children, making addresses official, etc. But we also help with debt mediation because they do not know how to pay bills, or simply because they do not receive the letters due to address problems. This is why we use payment schemes and rely on structures such as the CPAS to intervene in bills.

What does a typical day look like for you?

We start the day with counselling sessions and guidance. We welcome our people by appointment at our offices at 36 rue Georges Moreau. If it is the first time, we arrange the registration: we take stock, discuss their expectations, their concerns and needs, and evaluate whether they really want to register with us and have the right profile for our project. If they do not have the profile, they will be directed to relevant services or organisations.

If they are already registered, it depends on the specific steps to be taken. Sometimes we go to the municipality together, or contact, for example, their energy supplier in case of debts, or help them register with Actiris and then look for a job. Often, employment is the goal; that is what we ultimately focus on. If someone has too many problems that get in the way of functioning in a workplace, we first ensure a stable situation so they can start working afterwards. So it is a very varied job also based on the people we see each day.

How or when does a trajectory come to an end or are the objectives achieved?

Guidance lasts for a maximum of 2 years and the goal is for the person to find work or training. We end counselling once the person is stable and autonomous, able to communicate, work, pay the bills, as a “normal” citizen. This could take 3 or 6 months, or even 2 years, depending on the person’s situation. For people who arrive without many problems and just want to find a job, it can be very fast.

Are there certain job profiles that recur frequently?

One of the jobs that comes back often is that of the cleaner. But many have also built up experience in their own countries in bricklaying or painting, or as handymen or drivers. And since they already have a driving licence, they only have to retake the exam here.

What are the expectations for 2022?

We continue on the path we have embarked on to reach even more people and improve their living conditions. Upon their arrival in Belgium, there are many new codes for them, it is a totally different culture, with many ideas totally different from theirs. Through our activities, they integrate into this social context faster and learn the operating rules of our society.

We are always looking to improve our services. Next year, for instance, we will add a section on budget management in our workshops, because we find that this is really useful for this target group.

From 2022, our budget management workshop will really make a difference for this group

Roma in numbers

259 customers

85 positive results


• Cleaning

• Multifunctional worker

• Driver

• Production worker

• Mover

• …

135 Romanian Roma

74 women & 61 men

34 positive results : 28 jobs & 6 trainings

85 Syrian Doms

23 women & 62 men

30 positive results : 6 jobs & 24 trainings

39 Bulgarian Roma

24 women & 15 men

19 positive results : 17 jobs & 2 trainings