Claire Ucurera is the leader of Shean Asbl, a non-profit organisation located in Brussels. Starting with Women and girls, Shean works to support refugees in their integration process after they are granted asylum status in Belgium.
At Femmes d’Espérance, we take every opportunity to learn something from the women we interact with so in this short post, I want to share with you my takeaway from the conversation I had with Claire.
The issues around refugee integration are many and people experience that situation differently. As a law student I was exposed to many of these but what stood out for me was the fact that we (meaning society and policy makers) needed to change our perspective of who refugees are. Refugees are people, they have history, families, culture, skills, they are educated and come with a wealth of experience. Refugees have a lot to offer to any society that receives them. It just so happens that they had to leave their homes as a result of reasons that should not have happened in the first place. In other words, no one chooses to be a refugee as their next thing in life and Claire understood this well. In additional to shelter, they also offer pastoral and psychological support to the women and girls who transition through their residency. What Shean is doing is changing societal perspectives on refugees and how they are doing it is what scripture calls us to do -literally! (See Matthew 25:35-36)
‘She is a determined woman who does not give up even when all the signals are red. She is cooperative and seeks the opinion of each person in the group before making a decision’,
said Job Irihose -Her Spouse
In my last article on leadership, Dr Myriam Munezero shared a few of the challenges she met as chairperson of Think Africa. Still, as I reflected on their biggest achievement thus far, it was evident that perseverance is what will allow any leader to keep working in difficult or challenging times. According to John Maxwell, ‘perseverance begins with the right attitude -an attitude of tenacity. But the desire to persevere alone isn’t enough to keep most people going when they are tired or discouraged’.
Perseverance is well exemplified by Claire and her team at Shean. I cannot imagine how challenging it must have been to… yes do all the paperwork but also to physically put a place together for the sole purpose of helping others, helping them move on to do whatever they want to do in life. This kind of dedication and the consistency with which she does this work are the reasons I felt compelled to write this post.
Persistence and determination are essential for any leader to have a meaningful impact in society. In fact, it was because of her influence that I was contacted and told about Shean and the women who work in this organization. This act alone is a testament to the kind of positive influence Claire has, and truly how useful an organization like Shean is today.
In the coming years, Shean is planning to build on this experience and expand their services to all refugees as well as the most disadvantaged. There is so much more to be said about Claire and Shean but she will speak to us at our fall event. It will be an amazing opportunity to discover her even more and learn about her passion for people. Stay Tunned!
Find out more about Shean Asbl: www.shean.org
Summer Broadcast 2021 (French only)