Marcel, integrating refugees into the job market to fight exclusion
Interview by Joris van Erp
“I think the most important aspect of Humanity Cab is that it connects people.”
Marcel Kleizen is a former professional football player, social entrepreneur and citizen of The Hague. Last year, he started a social initiative together with co-founder Paul Driest, that aims to employ Eritrean refugees in the cycling sector: Eritrea Fietst (Eritrea bikes).
“I try to put in practice the social issues that I am working on. So much effort is spent on analysing and reporting issues, and sometimes so little is actually done in practice. Addressing segregation by actively connecting people – that’s what is essential.’’
‘’As I used to be a bike courier myself, I noticed that the Eritreans I was working with were quite talented cyclists – like us, cycling is a part of the local culture in Eritrea. I came into contact with Paul Driest, who was working as a language instructor for refugees, and he had similarly been thinking about employing Eritreans as cyclists. In the country that is famous around the globe for its cycling, we thought that there had to be job opportunities for these people.’’
Marcel connects integration and sustainability in the several social initiatives in which he is involved. Humanity Cab will become the first Pedi taxi service in The Hague to be managed and driven by Eritrean refugees.
Humanity Cab was launched in April 2018, starting with two taxis. Marcel and Paul will continue to support it through their organisation Eritrea Fietst, but with time the Eritreans involved will be running the company independently. Marcel hopes that Humanity Cab will support the Eritrean employees by not only getting them a job, but also by introducing them to entrepreneurship in the Netherlands.
‘’I think the most important aspect of Humanity Cab is that it connects people. Different social groups in the Netherlands tend to remain separated from each other. Humanity Cab can bring Eritrean migrants into the center of Dutch society, and it can get them in touch with tourists and citizens of The Hague. Both the Eritreans themselves and society as a whole benefit from such connections.’’
“Problems of communication remain one of the most significant obstacles for successful integration. Despite the fact that most Eritreans speak some Dutch and English, deeper connections tend to remain out of reach. Problematic communication causes distance and segregation, which in turn can lead to indifference. My hope is that Humanity Cab can connect people and bring them closer together, simply by sharing a short taxi ride.”
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Marcel Kleizen is one of the founders of the The Hague based social start-up Eritrea Fietst, which was launched through ‘Haagse Huiskamer’, an initiative of Justice and Peace that brings entrepreneurs and citizens of the Hague together for a better integration of refugees.