Brusselnieuws: Humans of Brussels

Brusselnieuws: Humans of Brussels

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'Humans of Brussels' provides insight into the incredible diversity of humans living in Brussels through interviews about their Belgian lives.

With so much population diversity in Belgium, Dutch-language news website set out to tell the many different stories of those living in Brussels.

A woman who explains why she fell for her husband, a girl who lost her job and taught herself to hula hoop, a couple that needs to decide urgently where to live: these are the stories that we, the editors of, are portraying with our project Humans of Brussels.

We try to talk to a variety of people and ask them about their biggest dreams, hopes and fears in life. But people also talk about their family, their greatest passions or work, or whatever's on their mind at that moment. Each story appears in Dutch, French and English on the website.

Humans of Brussels "I remember so fondly the 1,000th anniversary of the city of Brussels, in 1979. I danced at the Grand Place in an evening dress. I left my crocodile leather bag somewhere on the floor. Back then, you didn't have to worry about thieves or pickpockets. Better not try that now."


Humans of Brussels

"Last year, I lost my job. I sank into depression. Even taking a shower seemed hard. Loosing my job was a traumatic experience for me, as it happened unexpectedly. I fill up my days the best I can. I've learned how to hula hoop by myself. If I don't find a job soon, I'll go and hula hoop in the Rue de la Loi to earn some money.

"Many people don't realise what it means to be single and to have to live off EUR 930 a month in Brussels. They should stop saying that unemployed people are lazy. Nobody wants to live like this. If I didn't hula hoop, I'd go mad. I've studied economics. I'd like to deal with developmental economics."



Humans of Brussels

"My boyfriend is English and I am Italian. We made a conscious choice to come and live [in Belgium], because we wanted a place where we would both have to integrate. Next year, we want to walk from England to Milano, my hometown, in a month. Twenty to 30 kilometres every day, that should be feasible."



Humans of Brussels "I love a good debate, so I chose political sciences. My internship at the European Parliament couldn't happen at a better moment. These are exciting times. I enjoy every second of my internship, but I'm not sure I want to get into politics myself. The MEPs work really hard and have to travel all the time.... I have to go pick up my mother now. It's the first time she's coming over from Austria to visit me."


Humans of Brussels

"One of my sisters is blonde with blue eyes, the second one has chestnut hair and green eyes. The third one is mulatto like me, but with a lighter skin colour.

"My father was Belgian, my mother is Belgian from Congolese origin. There is a big mix-up of origins in my family, from generation to generation. One of my sisters is married with a Lebanese man, another one was married with a Portugese national. I am married with a white Belgian. After all, you don't choose a partner because of the colour of his skin, but out of love.

"Brussels is very multicultural, and I like that. But in my opinion, newcomers should respect the laws and customs of the country."




Humans of Brussels "I have three degrees, but I can't find a job. The fact that I'm not Belgian makes it more difficult. I have tried to become a Belgian national, without succes. My mother tongue is Ewe. That's also the name of my people. We share this language with our fellow people in southern Ghana and Benin."



Humans of Brussels

"In the Alsace, where I'm from, a lot of cities have brother cities in Japan. So I studied some Japanese in secondary school. I never thought this knowledge would land me a job, but that's exactly what happened. A year ago, I found a job at a Japanese press agency here in Brussels. [After] I sent CVs out to all French-speaking Belgian media, and they reacted quickly. Now I work as a reporter for radio chain BelRTL. My pronunciation or accent have never been a problem.

"A lot of young French people move to Brussels these days. We are the largest group of foreigners. Life here is easy and relaxed, cheaper too, there’s good public transport, there are always loads of things to do at night. And, very important: it's very easy for us to find a job here."



Humans of Brussels

"I'm German, he's Belgian. We met during our exchange year in Mexico. We fell in love immediately. We've been together for three years now."

"You still look very much in love, after three years of being together."

"(laughs) That's because we broke up for a while. A long distance relationship can be tough. But we missed each other too much. No, we don't know where we will end up living. For now we just want to be young and enjoy each other."



Humans of Brussels

“You can pick blackberries here in the park of Forest. They are still a bit sour, but if you don’t pick them now others might be quicker. I cook them with a bit of sugar, and then they are delicious to eat with farmer’s cheese.

“Over the years, Ixelles has become too fancy for me, it's hard to get real contact with all those intellectuals at Café Belga.

“I like to roam through the city, try to walk or bike a bit every day. On Monday, we were at the evening market in Saint-Gilles. Last week, I went to the Erasmus house in Anderlecht. They have a ‘philosophical park’ there, it’s marvellous."



Humans of Brussels (on the right) ''We work at the flea market at the Place du Jeu de Balles, all of us for a boss. Everyday we work from 4 or 5 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon. Loading and unloading trucks, that kind of stuff.''

(in the middle) ''We've been living in Europe for over 10 years now. I left secondary school after the first year. But afterwards I learnt Dutch, English and German in Tunesian hotels and resorts. No French, I preferred the difficult languages (laughs).''

(on the right) ''The situation in Tunisia is better now, but we still don't want to return. Life is good here, the police never bothers you, you can save a part of your income. It's just the papers we lack. In order to get them, we need a contract for a house or a job. But to get those, you need papers. I squat, but we have to leave the building on the 20th, even the elderly and the children. Where I'll live afterwards ? I don't know yet.''




Humans of Brussels

"It's great to sell fruit in the Rue Neuve. I love the human contact. As a child I used to go along with my father, a general practicioner, on his visits to his patients.

My husband came to Brussels from Turkey in the Expo Year of 1958. As an engineer, he helped build the Rogier Center (the Martinitower, red). It was torn down a few years ago and replaced by the Dexia Tower. But I hold no grudge."



All articles can be found on the Facebook page and Humans of Brussels, where a new article is published every week.

 / Expatica


Humans of Brussels was inspired by 'Humans of New York', a photo blog started by photographer Brendan Stanton in 2010. The blog became a big hit, and Stanton has now over 11.5 million followers on Facebook. All over the world people have started similar initiatives. The Brussels-based project is not trying to compete but hopes to give an insight into the incredible diversity of people in the Belgian capital.

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