Expats in Brussels are facing a difficult decision this year regarding the Christmas period, with many facing a looming possibility that they can't go home, but lack the family structure here to have someone to spend it with.
One Brussels expat, however, is hoping to change that with the "Adopt me for Christmas" campaign, which looks to connect families with people looking for somewhere to spend Christmas.
"I was myself in an uncertain situation regarding Christmas, my parents live in Montréal, and my uncle lives in Paris with whom I was supposed to spend Christmas," explained organiser Maxime Adam Levy to The Brussels Times. "Due to the uncertainty, I'm not sure if I will be able to cross the borders or if my uncle is able to host me for Christmas."
This lack of certainty, and a knowledge of many facing a similar struggle, prompted Levy to kick off his idea. In just a few days, he had already received around 116 applicants for the plan, 44 who wanted an extra guest and 72 looking to be that guest.
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Cuddle Contact Adoptee
Levy plans to match contacts and adoptees based on spoken language (at least one in common), food allergies, and any additional comments left by both parties.
Due to ongoing coronavirus measures, each family can only connect with one person, becoming their so-called 'cuddle contact' adoptee. This can be coupled with a request for quarantining or a negative coronavirus test, but that's up to the groups to decided once they are matched.
As the founder of the almost 30,000-member Facebook group 'Expats in Brussels', Levy has plenty of experience planning events in the city in better times. The coronavirus crisis, however, forced him to change tactics.
"I live alone, and the first weeks and months were very hard as I had a busy social life with the expats and locals living in Brussels."
After lockdown measures changed this, Levy adapted with the times, launching events alongside the rules including online drinks and socially distant meetups. An initiative to help people create a bubble - when that was the rule in Belgium - fell through after the rules changed, but will be postponed.
Anyone looking to participate in the programme has until 7 December to sign up, after which the family and adoptees will be paired up, with plenty of time for any required isolation ahead of meetings.
Levy, however, remains uncertain of his plans. "It will all depend on the quarantine measures," he explained.
The Brussels Times