Photographer:Fotograaf: Laurens Bouvrie
Refugee Project Maastricht
MAASTRICHT. On Sunday 13 May, thousands of adopted plastic ducks - 5 euro apiece - will be set loose in the Jeker river for the annual Duck Race. Proceeds from the race will go to, among others, Refugee Project Maastricht (RPM), which is run by UM students.
“We want to bring refugees, students and the local population in contact with each other and help them connect,” says Laura Barendregt, Australian master's student of Cultures of Arts, Science and Technology and head of RPM's Social Events. In order to realise this, RPM organises sports activities, and cooking and game evenings. Barendregt: “There are weekly Zumba lesson for women at the AZC and a sports day at UM Sports one Sunday every month. Open to everyone and free of charge.”
Anyone who has a good idea, will get help from RPM, if possible. “Some time ago. a refugee wanted to organise an evening for people from Maastricht with food, music, dance and language from Afghanistan. We arranged a place and did the shopping.”
“During evenings like this, everyone sees that we have more in common with each other than we think,” says Barendregt. “Like many refugees at the moment, I'm working hard for my citizenship exams.”
Money collected during the Duck Race will be used to buy bicycles for the cycling lessons, books for the language lessons, and sports gear such as football boots. “These items don't need to be new; we are happy with everything. We would also like to organise more evenings with food or extra sports days.”
There are about eighty active volunteers working for RPM, divided up over eight teams. “All volunteers spend four to five hours a week on these activities.