Cindy herself

Cindy and Amas

Cindy (32) – social, humorous, powerful. She has the power to go on no matter how difficult life gets, and she tries to see the positive things about every situation.

“I felt very small and I didn’t believe in myself but then after a time, I became stronger and stronger. For me, that’s my way.“

Embrace Life, Happiness, Love

“I am a very realistic person so my motto is Go with the Flow. I see what every day brings and take it in. For me, happiness means that you have good people around you. That you have friends you can talk to when you have a difficult moment but can also chill with them, just relax and drink or eat something. Love, therefore, means that you can be yourself but also that you can talk about anything good or bad or difficult.

You have love as friendship, but you also have love as love. One of the youngsters at Betonne Jeugd is only 17 but his mind is an adult’s mind and we like to talk a lot. That’s friendship love.

The love I have for my boyfriend is important as well. I can be myself. He has his interesting things, I have mine and that’s also OK: I love to come to Betonne Jeugd, my boyfriend loves to watch Football. The respect we have for each other also means love.”

Betonne Jeugd is inspiring

“Betonne Jeugd is an organization for youngsters, who have a lot of difficulties in their lives, difficulties regarding education, family, or their home situation so this is a place for them to come here to relax a bit. I came to Betonne Jeugd as a youngster I think 15-16 years ago. Nowadays, I work here 3 times a week.

Sometimes here people talk about their problems but also think about solutions that can help not only me as one person, but every person in Belgium. It’s inspiring. My son is the only person here who is only 7 years old. He’s already among adults and youngsters and it’s beautiful to see the dynamics between them.

Cindy and her son, Amas (7)

The people that come here are looking for a place they can feel themselves because a lot of youngsters have problems at school and regarding social inclusion. The effect on the youngsters here is that they think negatively about themselves and think I am nothing. I can’t do anything. They are right. I’m not a good person.”

I used to think life was not for me

“In my time in school, I wasn’t enough. For most of my education, people were laughing at me and I didn’t feel well, I was depressed. I felt insecure and I didn’t have any friends because they were laughing, making me feel not enough.

You don’t have the right clothes, you’re not enough, you’re overweight. After hearing this daily, I started to think I wasn’t enough, they were right, it was my fault. It was a lot of stress. When I was born I had two parents and two brothers. When I was 10 months old, my dad committed suicide. That was also a thing that gave me the power to say OK, there are other possibilities to go on with your life. I never knew him, you know, I never said Dad to my dad but he’s part of me. Sometimes I think about him and say: Dad, I’m doing this for you.

Now I spend time with other youngsters, I hear their stories and I learn they also have problems, and that makes me think maybe I’m not alone, maybe it’s not my fault. I’m going to grow and become stronger. When you grow up in a negative context it is very difficult to see the positive aspects of life. Sometimes when I was younger I thought maybe I had to end my life. Now I’m very happy I didn’t do that, I overcame that thought, there’s so much more in life and I tried to see the positive things.”

I get stronger and stronger

“The moment I felt the proudest of myself was this year. I had no diploma because I stopped school and I never went to high school. Two years ago I made the decision that I wanted to continue my studies here in Antwerp as they have education for adult people. This year in February I got my diploma.

I hope that I can be myself for the rest of my life and that I get stronger and stronger and I can help other people as well.

No matter how difficult life is, don’t give up. Try to see the positive things and look for people around you that have a positive impact on your personality. Do it together! Don’t feel alone, don’t feel ashamed to ask for help at the right time. And don’t wait too long to ask for help.”

Authors: Liza Khazalia & Alice Constantinescu