After the riot in Eindhoven the last Sunday, the entire country has one question in their minds: What’s wrong with those young people from Eindhoven? How could things go so wrong?
At Lumens, an organization for social work, the phones hardly stopped ringing. People called in with questions about youth work in the city. What is wrong with the youth in Eindhoven? Jacqueline Vonk, the chairperson of Lumens, feels the answer is not so easy.
To begin with, not all the rioters were young people; nor all of them were from Eindhoven. Lumens have trouble putting the perpetrators in picture. “If you ask me: I don’t know these young people. Or the group they belong to. There certainly must have been young people at the riots, who have also been in contact with our youth work. But should we pin it down to that? We’re there for all young people from Eindhoven and the region.”
Young people have a hard time because of the anti-corona measures, youth workers agree. “They sit at home and they want to go outside, to their friends,” says Nancy van Loon from Dynamo. But not only the restriction of their freedom is an ordeal. Having to constantly adapt to new measures is also extra difficult for this group. “This managing and adjusting to the new rules is also hard for young people. They need clarity. And also want to cross boundaries.”
To manage the trials of the lockdown, Dynamo began the project ‘IK GA KEIHARD’ (I’m doing my best) in December. The project was a scavenger hunt through the city. It was exciting and it offered young people an alternative to setting off fireworks. “IK GA KEIHARD” is still running. Only now, the slogan has been adapted to the current events: “I’m DOING MY BEST AGAINST VIOLENCE” and soon it will become ‘I AM DOING MY BEST FOR MY CITY’. To reinforce this statement, the youth workers of Dynamo will apply the slogan with chalk graffiti in the city center.
The fact that Lumens is not in contact with the rioters does not mean that the organization has not done its job well, says Vonk. “Youth work is not the all-encompassing answer to all of society’s issues,” he says.
So where can we find that answer?
Perhaps, it is the positive force emerging from the society, that is the answer. “With tears in my eyes, I watched the riots on Sunday. But on Monday, I looked again with tears in my eyes at the beautiful initiatives that had emerged, to compensate for the damage. Just look at that new piano at the station in Eindhoven, which was already being played again this week.” Lumens is going to put the spotlight on these beautiful developments, emanating from our society in the coming period. To try and to change the minds of the young people with such positive examples.
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta, who gives online INBURGERING classes.