News

Dear friends,

You may have noticed that contrary to a 5 year long tradition you didn’t get my biannual newsletter in the summer although I had drafted one…..it had met with censureship by my « Soviet councillor » aka my wife who thought it focussed too much on gouvernance issues and would therefore not attract everybody’s interest. But it was very much on my mind at that time.

We are nearing the end of a year which was both stimulating and complicated - stimulating because the challenges I am facing take a great deal of energy out of me.

Let me start with the ones you are familiar with. Unfortunately Allo ? Allo ! is not taking off in Brussels although the scheme would have enabled vulnerable people to find solutions to many of their everyday problems. An exciting test run was presented to the Fondation Roi Baudouin and all stakeholders, but the latter don’t seem to be capable of putting the concept of « mutualisation » into practice. So there was no point for me in continuing and I decided to quit, not without a certain amount of frustration as you can imagine…

But as there is never a shortage of challenges in this sector, I then had more time for SIREAS (www.sireas.be). As you know, for 55 years now this admirable organisation has been supporting the social and professional integration of migrants by providing them with legal and psychological help, and they permanently raise the awareness of the citizens on migration issues. My main input consisted of looking for and selecting new administrators and helping to improve the impact of the organisation even further. The new Board is working efficiently under the enlightened leadership of Jacques Van Egten. Everyone involved is now focussed on putting together a team which will make this superb organisation sustainable.

Fair enough Olivier but what about your previous commitments, the alumni of the European Schools, Emergency, microStart, NewB and EMMI to mention just the ones you keep us posted on?

Alumni Europae (www.alumnieuropae.org) is right on track although the general mood is far from being pro European at the moment and populists are gaining ground virtually everywhere. I am more convinced than ever that the major global challenges have to be addressed together and that Europe is an essential subset to do just that. Even the biggest member states cannot come up with credible and viable solutions. But together we shall find ways and means that work! In my mind there is no doubt that the former students of the European Schools will contribute to this development, everyone according to his or her means!

Emergency (www.emergencybe.org) is in the process of considering the right strategy for the future, given its location in Italy and in a Europe which are both increasingly inward-looking. How do you fulfill your mission in a country which has elected a populist government ? How can you achieve the objectives of the organisation in this context? I am still and shall remain involved in this wonderful structure.

MicroStart (www.microstart.be ) keeps growing : originally a start-up is now has to position itself as a key partner in the field of professional microcredit in Belgium. For this to happen it needs to rethink its strategy and organisation. This year I’ve worked quite hard on this task and the results will soon become visible which makes me very happy! We are always on the lookout for volunteers to further increase our activities! We are already 150 all over Belgium. Come and join us!

NewB (www.newb.coop) is next; the cooperative which strives to become an ethical bank is well on its way. Having ignored the initiative for years, the authorities finally seem to start paying some attention to us; I wouldn’t call them benevolent ….but nothing can shake our resolve, we keep working hard and are not giving up !!

AndEMMI (www.emmi-benchmarks.eu) ? I was involved in organising the succession of Guido; we found Jean-Louis Schirmann who is on secondment by the European Central Bank and brings all his competence and a great deal of enthusiasm to the task. The authorities are clearly supportive of EMMI’s mission and this is why, despite a still highly fragile banking environment, we trust that we shall reach our objective.

My good friends from APO.G (www.apog.be) have kindly co-opted me to their Board and entrusted me with the role of secretary which allows me to help strengthening and perpetuating this wonderful group. I am grateful to them for this.

Last but not least my friend Manu Mossay invited me to be part of an Advisory Board of a major sheltered workshop in the Brussels region. To be followed…

Is that it Olivier ? Not bad your to do list !! Well, as you are aware, Cross The Bridge has not seen the light of day but I keep seeing people on a voluntary basis, people who are looking for meaning in their activities and lives; I am trying my very best to point them in directions to follow so that they can find their own answers. Some are young and feel unhappy after some years in a traditional job, others have completed a career as executive in a big company and wish to continue leaving a mark on society. If you know someone who might be interested, don’t hesitate to give them my contact details. It is not easy to find one’s sweet spot.     

I wrote at the start that this year has been both stimulating and complicated….you now know about the first bit. But it has been complicated and sad also because we lost a close friend and founding member of our kibboutz Les Cèdres. Guy will be terribly missed.

Here we are, I now wish you a merry Christmas and a stimulating new year 2019, full of challenges, joy and success.

Big hug

Olivier December 2018

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