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"Merci pour les sourires, pour l'humanité qui brille dans tes yeux."
Text on the fresco 'Solidaire' by artist Symbio"z Art in Kinkempois


In July 21 heavy rains turned lovely streams into torrential rivers that washed away houses, cars, bridges and roads and killed 41 people in the Belgium Walloon region. Many people were stuck for two days on their roof before they were rescued.

As soon as the water dropped, volunteers from other regions came to help. And it was mainly the Dutch-speaking Flemish who moved to the French-speaking Walloon region where the disaster took place. And that wasn't as obvious as it sounds. In Belgium society these populations rarely meet and mainly think negatively about each other. Even though they live in the same country. 

The badly hit village of Trooz, on the bend of the Vesdre river, became home to several groups of Flemish volunteers. They brought food, furniture, refrigerators and stoves. They did heavy construction work in shifts so that the bricks could dry. And they gave mental support when people were sick of living in circumstances that did not improve.

By December 2021 people still lived in very unhealthy conditions. The houses were damp and cold. Mushrooms grew out of their walls. There was no hot water and no kitchen to prepare a proper meal. People were frustrated and angry because they didn't receive help from the government and they didn't hear from their insurance company. Many became depressed and tired of living in conditions that were not improving.

That's why the volunteers kept coming every weekend to help them. With Christmas coming, they did everything they could to make the dark days a bit lighter. With Christmas stuff, a Saint Nicholas and a Santa Claus for the traumatized children.

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