Manneken Pis and our volunteers in the spotlights!
On the 7th of December 2013 two memorable events were organized by the B-FAST Secretariat to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our interdepartmental structure.
The entry of our national pride Manneken Pis to the B-FAST family, was the main event of the day. In the presence of B-FAST’s founding fathers, Mister Louis Michel and André Flahaut and the current vice Prime-Minister and Chairman of B-FAST Didier Reynders, and Vice-Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx, the official B-FAST outfit was remitted to the Manneken Pis Society.
In his speech, Mr. Reynders outlined the unique power of B-FAST as a mechanism of cooperation between different federal departments that can rapidly be activated after a calamity has occurred abroad. In B-FAST, all ministries bring together their know how and expertise in order to send relief goods and teams to a disaster struck country. In its first decade, B-FASTwas sent out more than 40 times. Operations abroad that are best known to the public: the tsunami in south-east Asia, earthquakes in China, Algeria, Morocco, Iran and Haiti, the floodings in Bulgaria and Romania, and only recently the Haiyan Typhoon that desolated islands in the Philippines. Also, many diplomatic representatives were present at the ceremony.
However, B-FAST remains above all an organization driven by the people and working for the people. This was once again displayed during its last operation in the Philippines. The professional origin is one thing, but B-FAST secret weapon is its team spirit. Furthermore, our organization acts a source of inspiration for many Belgians. The action on the terrain displayed by our teams encourage others to take initiative themselves. A human drive we only can promote!.
Ever since its creation, hundreds of people have assisted to the good reputation that B-FAST now has. We must not forget their altruism and their involvement that has largely contributed to the successful outcome of the B-FAST operations.
Only two days after the international volunteer day our B-FAST volunteers were celebrated.
A few hundred meters away from the Rue d'Etuve – where our little Brussels guy was showing its newest outfit - our B-FAST members received a homage. About 250 B-FAST volunteers and their partners from different ministries and backgrounds gathered to exchange their experiences and share their memories. Here also, Minister Reynders voiced his feelings of profound esteem for the tireless efforts and availability of the volunteers who are driven by its humanitarian values. Many victims were helped to raise again and to start reconstructing their country thanks to the help of B-FAST volunteers. This was very much appreciated, as was showed by the Philippine Ambassador’s speech. The Ambassador herself also made a lot of time to discuss with volunteers to share their experiences.
At the end of the day, the event proved itself to be a success by the huge turnout and enthusiasm of the volunteers as well as many volunteers asking to have more opportunities to gather in the future.