Brussels Gives Back to Refugees

Levi Strauss & Co.
May 1, 2017

In Europe, our employees continue to deepen the connections we have with organizations serving refugees in our communities around the world.

The global refugee crisis continues to reverberate, and our employees in Europe continue to see and be impacted by the resounding effects. Staying true to our founder’s empathetic spirit, our employees raised their hands, encouraging the company to put our values into action through a series of efforts in support of refugees. Last December, we awarded the International Rescue Committee (IRC) a grant of 50,000 GBP to support their work in providing critical services and aid to refugees struggling to rebuild their lives in Turkey, which currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world.

We also continue to make donations of Levi’s® and Dockers® clothes to organizations providing refugee assistance throughout Europe. By giving high-quality, durable clothing to thousands of refugees, our hope is to provide a basic necessity to those in need.

But it is our employees who continue to make the most impact. As part of our continued effort, our employees in Brussels are actively involved with our local nonprofit partner, Convivial – volunteering their time to the organization which provides assistance to refugees and asylum seekers as they rebuild their lives in Belgium.

Convivial was established in 1994 after a meeting between two women—a Belgian and a Rwandan refugee—with aims to facilitate the integration of refugees in Belgium. Their core belief is that through empathy, you build a mutual understanding between Belgians and refugees, raising awareness and working to integrate them into the community with open arms.

A combination of learning and hard work, LS&Co. employees spent the two days of service hearing from Convivial staff and refugees firsthand about the experience of resettling in Belgium. They then spent several hours sorting through donations and cleaning Convivial’s warehouse where refugees can come to receive free access to basic necessities like clothing, tableware, furniture and food

One of the most powerful parts of the day for employees is being able to speak to refugees personally about their experiences.

“We learned so much about the asylum seekers and refugees. Besides being such an eye-opener and educational moment, it was an extremely emotional day,” said senior merchandising manager Camelia Cracan. “The moment when we spoke to a 22-year-old Syrian refugee was very powerful. I’m looking forward to going back to Convivial on Community Day to help more.”

After his day of volunteering, Mathieu Dethier, assistant merchant for Dockers®, shared his gratitude. “[The opportunity] was really enriching and I’m very moved that LS&Co. gave us the opportunity to take these kind of actions and spend days giving back to the community.”

This wasn’t their first and certainly won’t be their last time volunteering with Convivial. This Thursday is LS&Co.’s annual day of service, Community Day, where a group of employees will head back to the organization to pick up where they left off.

Florence Monier, coordinator at Convivial, emphasized the value of the partnership. “The group’s openness, interest and efficiency has really helped us in getting so much work done in the warehouse. It has also been a fruitful experience for our team… Thanks to our partnership, we’ve been able to diversify and adapt our awareness and education sessions.”

Giving back to those most vulnerable has been an important part of our heritage since 1853 – and we are happy to continue to build upon that legacy.