The Maison des Béguines in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean was opened on Saturday morning, in front of local mayor Françoise Schepmans and Prime Minister Charles Michel. It was created by associations Atouts Jeunes, Make It Real and Zonnelied. It is located in what was previously the café run by the Abdeslam brothers, 49 de la rue des Béguines. There will be a fete day with jumble sales in the neighbourhood to mark the occasion.
The aim of the project is to dissipate the terrorism shadow hanging over the area and create a positive space. There will be tutoring, youth programs, interregional and cultural activities, culinary activities and numerous other resident initiatives.
To achieve this, the three associations have merged together to form the Béguines collective. The renovation work will be done with help from the Brussels commune.
“This is a moment where we look to the future, an optimistic moment”, says Charles Michel. “It’s an initiative by the residents, who got together to see this project through. Our history has been marred by the tragic terrorist attacks and very serious insults, generalisations and clichés have been aimed at Molenbeek”.
“By being here, I wanted to show I have faith in the future. A lot of work has been done by local associations and the mayor and his team. I wanted to support their positive and optimistic initiatives, which are geared towards the future”, the Prime Minister said.
He sees it as an “important” moment for the area. “There has been enthusiasm, but also emotion, from the residents behind this project. Because of this, we can work towards meetings and people getting to know each other better. There will also be tutoring, which is really special to me”, Charles Michel said in a show of support for the youth of Molenbeek.