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Graffiti for the Schilderswijk

Tuesday evening, April 21, Schilderswijk The Hague. Like every Tuesday, a group of youngsters from Marokkaans Jongerengeluid (Moroccan Youth Voices) get together at the Hoefkade in the Schilderswijk. They are working towards rebuilding their neighbourhood that recently suffered from riots and inter-ethnic tensions. "We were able to grow up in freedom and have everything we wanted. We see this changing for our bothers and sisters. It is more difficult. There is less freedom. This is what we want to make better. We want to give something  back to society," said one of the youth.

And they do. They cooperate with the police on a monthly basis to rebuild trust in the neighbourhood. They want to share these insights in the neighbourhood like a 'second wave'. That is why they make videos, train themselves in teamspirit, leadership and work together with coaches and artists to get their message across.

On that particular Tuesday evening, they made posters together with IDEA NL trainer Yvonne Heselmans to spread their message throughout the neighbourhood. They used graffiti they had made during their exchange weekend in Antwerp in March. Graffiti art promotes their love for The Hague, their square, each other and their dreams for change. They chose texts like 'Together we are strong' of 'Wati'(freedom) of 'Den Haag'. They added personal messages on the posters.

Three female participants chose the graffiti text 'Love' and add 'in the neighbourhood so that change is possible'. To the ID-card symbo, one of the participants added: 'never again asked for IDs without cause.' Their heart goes out to their city: ‘Oh oh Den Haag, beautiful city behind the dunes (but keep it that way)'

Another boy chose to make a poster with WATI and used it as an acronym picking 'Wij Allemaal Tonen Initiatief'' (We all show initiative). This caused great hilarity for all and they attempted another one with HONK, their club house, which for them meant family, love, but also being someone there. Er ontstaat grote hilariteit en discussie over hun 'plein' het HONK. They settle on ‘Hoopvolle Ontwikkeling van Nieuwe Kwaliteit'  (Hopeful development towards new quality).

There, at their HONK, is where innovation lies, creativity and positive change. That is what they discuss while making their posters and planning a distribution campaign. They want to promote debate on the future of their neighbourhood. And in June, during Ramadan, they plan to host an IFTAR with debate and food to discuss their futures. And their freedoms. To be continued.

This activity is part of a project in which youth from Dutch and Belgian neighbourhoods work towards transforming their neighbourhoods and exchange ideas on how to do so. This project was made possible with support from Youth in Action, a youth fund of the European Commission.

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