Around the turn of the century there were already several people with a migration background in Turnhout. But now there were also the first 'blacks' from Ghana and Nigeria, for example, and people from other European and non-European countries had also reached Turnhout.
The 'Welkom' (predecessor of Prisma vzw, which was the predecessor of the current Agency for Integration and Civic Integration) was already ready to welcome these 'newcomers'. From the City of Turnhout there was cooperation, for example, the girls' organization of Welkom in collaboration with the urban youth service.
Welcome questions came from people with a migrant background who wanted to unite, groups of people who wanted to get together. That's how 'Eva' was born there, the group of women from all over the world who live in Turnhout and the surrounding area. They still meet weekly (except during corona) for an activity. Afco was also created in this period; a group of people from English-speaking Africa (mainly Ghana).
In the Begijnenstraat in Turnhout, 'Binnen without bells' (a predecessor of the poverty organization T'ANtWOORD) moved. This property of the deanery was thus released. Jeroen Berens of Welkom and Jan Starckx of the municipal youth service joined forces and brought a few people together to establish the non-profit organization Villa Mescolanza with the seat and location for activities at 39 Begijnenstraat. The deed of incorporation is dated 28/12 / 2005. The objectives of this association are still the same: to give positive impulses to the respectful coexistence of different cultures, whereby people can fully develop and express themselves both individually and from within their cultural community. The association wants to achieve this by:
Giving organizations a place to expand their operations.
Organizing meeting moments between different population groups so that together they give substance to living together in diversity.
Create a discussion forum with all citizens and the city council, aimed at discussion and consultation about municipal policy.
In the early years of the non-profit organization Villa Mescolanza, representatives of the various organizations were asked to be part of the non-profit association, to sit in the general assembly and possibly the board of directors. After a few years it was decided to let this go. The organizations that wanted to make regular use of the house were called 'residents', less regular users 'accommodation'. The general meeting and board of directors were left to the local government, employees of 'Welkom' (afterwards of the Agency for Integration and Civic Integration) and other interested parties.
In 2010, a similar operation arose with the support of Prisma (who worked regionally) in Geel. In order not to make it more difficult for the employees of Prisma and because the objectives of this operation were similar to those of Villa Mescolanza, it was decided to bring this operation under the same non-profit organization. The non-profit organization changed its name to "vzw Huis van Dialoog" and now also had 't Original in Geel, in addition to Villa Mescolanza in Turnhout.
In a monthly 'residents' meeting' (except in July and August and during the lockdown due to corona) representatives of the 'residents' of Villa Mescolanza come together. An employee of Prisma / Agency Integration and Inburgering invited them to this meeting and wrote a report. An employee of the City of Turnhout attended the meetings.
In 2018, the non-profit organization Huis van Dialoog submitted a project for more participation. Flanders approved this project, so that an employee could start for Villa Mescolanza in April 2019, for a period of 3 years. The aim is to allow the 'residents' to cooperate more with other organizations from the Turnhout civil society.
Feel free to drop in to get acquainted with the operation and activities.