01 Jun '19

A family is more than flesh and blood

door Nathalie Dirix
Aletha Wallace was 15 years old when she fled the civil war in Liberia.

‘I had no idea where I’d end up. All I knew was that I had to get out of there to stay alive.’ Today, 14 years later, she is living with her husband and two children in Hoeilaart, the municipality where she was awarded the ‘Woman of the Year’ prize in March 2019. Imagine arriving as a 15-year-old girl without your parents in a country where you don’t know anyone – how could you survive such an experience? ‘By building a new family with the people in the country where you’re living. For the first few years I lived in a home for young refugees. I still enjoy a close relationship with many of them. For me, family is not limited to blood relationships. I see a family as the group of people you truly care about.’ Wallace is actively involved in the non-profit organisation Leef Foundation, whose aim is to offer opportunities to children in Liberia.