It takes courage to speak about racism in Luxembourg, but it exists, even in this multi-lingual, multi-national country. Damien Garot talks about his experience. Sportunity is actively working to integrate refugees and local people, founded by Eryn Zander. And Arca Properties is the latest entrepreneurial offering by Giacomo Trenz.
In this week’s show I’m back with Sasha Kehoe to chat about the week’s news, from protests in France to Luxembourg Pride Week.
My other guests are Damien Garot, Eryn Zander and Giacomo Trenz. Damien talks about his experiences of racism in Luxembourg. Eryn is the founder of Sportunity which fosters integration of refugees in Luxembourg through sport. Giacomo is an entrepreneur to tells us about his latest venture: Arca Properties.
Racism in Luxembourg
Damien Garot was born on an island in between Busan and Japan. Because of war, it was under American mandate and finally given to South Korea. All of this unrest meant that Damien was adopted in Belgium. He came to Luxembourg in 2000 and became a Luxembourg citizen in 2008.
Despite this personal development and integration into his chosen homeland, Damien has faced racism through the years, some of which has deeply affected his life, and even his health.
It takes courage to talk openly about these incidents and Damien is doing this so that others can come forward and tell their stories. So often they are internalised by the victim and never reported. Of the abusive attacks that are reported, very few are prosecuted.
Damien gives us two examples. One was a drink-driver who chased Damien to a car park and damaged his car (€7000 worth of damage). Damien couldn’t get out of the car for fear of physical aggression. This was reported in early April but the police have not been able to follow up yet it seems. They didn’t treat it as a high priority as it was ‘just’ material damage, even though the aggressor threatened to find out where Damien lived with his number plate.
The other example was when Damien became very ill in 2020. He was not admitted to hospital and through a series of medical errors he now has to take oxygen every day and his lungs are damaged. When finally in hospital one medical practitioner whispered to him that covid was due to ‘his country’ and that he shouldn’t be there.
Damien is clear to highlight the good in Luxembourg and that these are a small minority of people, but even so, it’s not a decent way to live in a country such as Luxembourg. This country is so international that we need to integrate and enjoy one another’s company plus the range of knowledge we bring from other countries and cultures.
Eryn Zander is Founder and President, Sportunity, a not-for-profit organisation she founded in Luxembourg about 10 years ago. This independent charity organisation focusses on fostering integration of refugees with locals in Luxembourg’s society through sport. Sportunity provides refugees and migrants with free access to regular sports practice, as well as opportunities to build new lives in Luxembourg by creating strong bonds with the local community.
Eryn is committed to bringing people together - crucial for integration and social cohesion. She emphasises the slight change of phrasing: replace ‘doing something for refugees’ with ‘doing something with refugees’.
Collaboration is key to providing the impact Eryn envisages. She talks about the upcoming Talent Trek Camp this summer for refugee children aged 8-14: a 4-week entertainment programme built around intensive sports practice, cultural and artistic discoveries - and you can help and get involved!
There is still an opportunity to suggest some new activities and get involved.
You can get involved by emailing email@example.com
Giacomo’s latest venture is Arca Properties which he co-founded in 2019 with €200. In 2022 the revenue was €2.37 million.
Giacomo and his business partner understood the difficult housing market of Luxembourg where businesses are constantly trying to attract international talent, but one of the stumbling blocks are places to live.
Arca offer short-term serviced rentals, and currently manage a portfolio of over 80 serviced apartments. Corporate clients include Amazon and ArcelorMittal. They aim to make the transition to living and working in Luxembourg as convenient and homely as possible.
We also talk about Giacomo’s interest in bio-hacking!