Jack's Story - Belgium

"We need a system that promotes solidarity"

Jack, 26 years, Belgium

"I have been living in Belgium for 18months and I work in a metal factory in Brussels, with a permanent full-time contract. I am originally from Peru and in Peru I worked in many different jobs. One was as a taxi driver for 2 and a half years, more or less 6 days a week, 15 hours per day. It was informal work, and every month for a different salary, sometimes 200 Euro per month, and at other times less. After that I had an experience of formal work in a hotel where I cleaned rooms for 6months, and worked driving taxis during the weekend. I left the work in the hotel to move to Europe.

"I came to Belgium to work and to study and to help my family because I had the chance to come here. I decided to come with the thought that the salary I could gain could help me support my family and help pay my studies.

"I searched for work for 6 months in Belgium. It was difficult, because I didn't speak the local language, but I searched through the interim agencies, personally visited workplaces to ask for work, and asked everyone I had met here to see if they could help me to find a job.

"I support my grandmother and my father in Peru. Every month I send more or less 300 Euro to Peru, sometimes more, depending on the need, for example, if my grandmother or father are sick, I send more. It's around 1/3 of my salary.

"I support them because it is important that they can have enough to eat and to make sure they can purchase the medication they need. My grandmother was always at home. She didn't have paid work, so now she has no access to the social welfare system. My father always worked as an informal worker and the social protection system doesn't exist for these workers.

"I feel a sense of obligation to aid my family. If I don't, there is no -one else to help them. Sometimes I find it difficult to see how people socialise and use their money here in Belgium. With the commitment I have to my family, it's difficult for me to participate in the social life.

"For me, social protection is protection of health, with good food, good clothing, and to have a place to sleep. I think the demand for 'economic security' is very important. If we had this security, it would change everything. It needs to be for everyone - the babies, the elderly, without discrimination. I think it is very important to have the economic security for the informal workers because it is not possible to guarantee the same salary every month, and when you are sick and cannot work, you are not supported.

"I think iti is also really important to have a good education. In Peru everyone was working for themselves. We live in an individualistic world. The education we have needs to be more humanitarian to stop this individualism. I want to be a good citizen of Belgium. I want to learn the languages, and to understand the Belgian culture and society. It's also important to have social system that promotes solidarity."

CAJ Germany

KAJ Flanders

JOC Wallonie-Bruxelles

International YCW