Interviewing refugee-led organisations for our Erasmus+ project

This post is our contribution to #ErasmusDays:



Aims of our project

The Erasmus+ project ‘Training Kit for Empowering Refugee-Led Community Organisations’ aims at addressing the challenges faced by refugee-led organisations. It seeks to equip them with relevant information and skills. Our training kit will support them in order for them to reach a significant level of impact and influence at EU and national levels.

How? By providing training on communication strategies, administrative requirements, advocacy skills, legal information, networking, etc. The training kit will be available to the public and thoroughly disseminated throughout the Partners’ networks.

The aim of this project is to witness a dramatic improvement in the enjoyment of human rights by refugees. The project focuses on the idea of supporting the active inclusion of marginalised, vulnerable or excluded communities. We hope to support those refugees who want to play an more active role in their communities and at the EU level.

Through the project, we will firstly identify the communities’ needs, strengths and trends. We will then produce an educational package that will tackle these challenges and provide improved skills to overcome them.

Interviewing experience

We were very excited to conduct project interviews! As part of this project, we had the opportunity to interview various partners established in Malta. These included refugee-led and non-refugee led organisations.

Taking into account the background, singularities, cultures and languages of the interviewees, we had to know how to formulate questions that can resonate with each of them. We asked non-refugee-led organisations about their perceptions of refugee-led organisations, their value or what skills they might lack to have greater impact. Whereas we interviewed refugee-led organisations about their organisations, inviting them to share the different challenges they face or what skills might be beneficial for them to acquire.

We organised focus group and individual interviews with non-refugee led organisations such as Hal Far Outreach, KOPIN, Blue Door English, Integra, SOS Malta, African Media Association and Migrant Woman Association. Quite similar ideas emerged on the value of non-refugee led organisations and how refugees are better suited to advocate for their own rights. It was also commonly agreed that the lack of financial resources and inclusion or length of any administrative procedures constituted substantial obstacles.

As for refugee-led organisations we had the chance to set up one-on-one interviews. We interviewed Spark15, Libico and the Syrian, Ivorian, Eritrean, Somali and Sudanese Communities. Interestingly, the same points as with non-refugee-led organisations were raised. The difficulty to get involved in the organisation when the members struggle to find a reliable job was highlighted. In addition, the interviewees noted the lack of integration and the bureaucracy.

Our thoughts

Conducting these interviews turned out to be a very instructive experience. It is interesting to see how organisations with very different backgrounds have shared similar challenges and fears, and how they try to overcome these obstacles through resilience and partnership.

We learnt how these organisations still cope in making their organisation succeed despite the continuous challenges they face.

Although each organization has its unique goals and intentions, they all agreed on one common goal: to make sure every migrant, asylum-seeker and refugee in Malta are well treated, educated and granted the rights they are entitled to.

In many ways, we have personally benefited from taking part in this project. We learnt how to conduct interviews with people from different backgrounds, with different cultures, languages and ideas. We gained significant knowledge from their input and from the various and interesting experiences that they spoke to us about and thus challenged our own impressions and ideas.

More generally, when interviewing these organisations, one can see how certain things can appear as details for some and indeed constitute a great deal of challenges for others.

It was very encouraging to see how the refugee led organisations we interviewed were built from the ground up and have achieved so much already!

Written by Julie and Rimaz.


Refugees as partners not only as beneficiaries – new project announcement

We are extremely excited to launch a new initiative that will see us supporting refugee-led organisations. Together with partners in Malta, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece and Italy we will be looking at the challenges faced by refugee-led groups in becoming active advocates for refugee rights. On the basis of our research and consultations we will then design a training kit intended to strengthen their capacity to advocate at the national and EU levels.

Refugee-led community organisations (RCOs) play a crucial role within society and ample research has highlighted this. RCOs provide a bridge support to newly-arrived refugees. They facilitate swifter integration by offering basic information on procedures and daily life, provide language and cultural orientation training, support refugees wishing to contribute to lost societies and, generally, assist in the normalisation process of making a host community become home.

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Youth, Not Status II Training Weekend

On 11th-12th of November aditus held the second Training Course of Youth, Not Status, the Erasmus+ project that aims to bring together young Europeans and young refugee/migrants (range of age 18-30 years old), to provide them with human rights information and skills necessary to structure ideas and strategies for them to inform national policy-making on youth themes.

The training took place at Aġenzija Żgħażagħ Youth Village Complex in St. Joseph High Road, Santa Venera, and gathered together 20 young learners of all ages between 17 and 28 and from different backgrounds and helped them explore and change the discourse on migration and to understand the challenges and potentials of cultural diversity, inclusion, social integration.

The first session on Saturday 11th fostered social cohesion and promote intercultural dialogue. Dr. Anne Bathily and Dr. Virginie Gailing canvassed concepts and addressed subjects through interactive working group exercises to promote social inclusion and challenge racism and stereotypes.

They combined them with body-storming games as a powerful learning tool to improve critical thinking and education to achieve sustainable development, intercultural understanding and awareness campaigning.

It has been amazing watching the trainers with their interactive tools and proposals. The different protocols helped enormously in encouraging debate, to raise issues and work together to find solutions on daily based situations.

The Training gave us practice and examples of how to be aware and acknowledge that growing inequality has become a pressing issue.

The participants kept telling me, yesterday, that they felt very privileged to have participated in the workshop.

Antonella Sgobbo, aditus Programmes Officer and Youth, Not Status Project Coordinator.

During the last stage of the day, the identification of three project ideas took place in a very engaging working groups set up, three tables for three different projects:

  • National Youth Council/equivalent of youth platform to be given a vote + consultation power in policy making process of Parliament
  • Youth Media Platform
  • Social integration campaigns

The workshop concluded with pitches of these proposals in front of a proper jury composed of a journalist, a video maker and a project manager who provided the participants with valuable advice on the potential impact of the projects.

         

The next session on Sunday 12th sought to identify how young people can make use of the policy to advocate for their needs. Dr Gabi Calleja facilitated the session about “the National Youth Policy Towards 2020: A shared vision for the future of young people”, as part of the Government’s policy for greater participation, equitable economic and social progress for all and inclusive change.

The panel examined topics such as human rights and justice; political participation and decision-making; gender and health inequalities; and employment, education, and migration opportunities, in the context of youth development, empowerment, and equality within society.

The participants provided input on the strategies of the policy before its implementation and they advocated for increased inclusivity in the aims and the objectives of the policy.

The workshop provided an invaluable platform for migrant and Maltese youths to interact and learn under the guidance of national and international coaches on integration, youth policy and journalism.

The interactive nature of the workshop made the weekend thoroughly enjoyable!

Helena A. Youth, Not Status participant.

Jurgen Balzan led the last talk ‘Young people’s representation in media across the Mediterranean’. A vast majority of citizens in Europe and the southern Mediterranean now recognise youth-led initiatives and education reform as the best way to tackle discrimination and extremist narratives.

Jurgen gave an example of how social media played a significant role during the Arab Spring as it facilitated communication and interaction among participants of political protests, and he shared his experiences in reporting on cases involving migrants. The group of participants debated on how displaced and vulnerable people can be empowered through the use of social media and other platforms.

My participation in Youth, Not Status made me feel more comfortable and free to speak about migration.  I met new people, we shared our experiences. Everything is more realistic now! Being judged as migrant, refugee in this Country needs to be refreshed up.

We shared our voices, we were very engaged, despite of the pressure and the animated debate.

Our voices can change the whole world.

It was a pleasure meeting also Jurgen Balzan, the journalist who spoke about the situation that happened in North Africa and in the Middle East. Thanks. 

Omar, Youth, Not Status participant.

If you want to know more about Youth, Not Status project click here:

 http://aditus.org.mt/our-work/projects/youth-not-status/

If you want be involved in the next activities of Youth, Not Status, get in touch with us:
[email protected]

 

                                                                                

Photo credits: Antonella Sgobbo


Transnational Conference “Education, Participation, Integration – Erasmus+ and Refugees”

From 19 till 20 April 2016 I took part in the Transnational Conference “Education, Participation, Integration-Erasmus+ and Refugees”, hosted by the German Erasmus + National Agency NA-BIBB “Nationale Agentur Bildung für Europa beim Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildungin”, in Essen, Germany.

The Conference hosted 280 people coming from 25 different European countries, including representatives of educational institutions (higher education, vocational and adult education and schools), the youth sector, local authorities, employment agencies, chambers, enterprises and stakeholders involved in the employment and education integration of refugees into.

The Conference offered an innovative networking opportunity to support institutions and organizations with facilitating the integration of refugees, focusing on the validation of new appropriate methods (like non-formal and informal learning methods), unconventional training activities for refugees and to integrate them in the Europe’s education systems, and innovative approaches for vocational and educational staff.

The conference included two sessions with practical actions in small thematic groups, conversations with artists and keynote contributors, and presentation of good practises emphasizing cross-cultural experiences.

Also, there was a market-place for projects and a cultural dinner for social networking. The final panel discussion gave an overview of the Erasmus+ programme and the challenges of Member States to remove multiple barriers faced by refugees in terms of access to education and employment.

 


ERASMUS+ supports aditus’ capacity building

In 2015, the European Legal Network on Asylum (ELENA) celebrated its 30th anniversary by organising an advanced training in Bologna on “Legal avenues for strengthening international protection in Europe”. Thanks to ERASMUS+ funds, we had the opportunity to attend this high level course in Bologna. Claire (Legal Office) participated, together with Neil (Director).

ELENA is a forum of legal practitioners aiming to promote the highest human rights standards for the treatment of refugees, asylum seekers and other persons in need of international protection in their daily individual counselling and advocacy work. The network now counts over 500 lawyers and legal counsellors from all over Europe. Aditus has been an active member of this platform for years.

The aim of this course was to provide tools for lawyers and NGOs for advancing the rights of refugees. Firstly, the training focused on effective remedies for asylum cases: how to bring efficiently asylum cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) but also to lesser used avenues such as United Nations and Council of Europe mechanisms.

Secondly, the course covered the implementation of asylum decisions: ECtHR and CJEU judgments, EU infringements procedures initiated by the European Commission and the monitoring of national asylum systems.

Finally, the course examined legal remedies in Dublin Regulation cases, family reunification and detention cases.

Trainers for this course included professionals from the CJEU or ECtHR, directors of human rights centres, UNHCR representatives but also reputable asylum lawyers such as Nuala Mole.

This course presented a unique opportunity to reinforce aditus in its strategic litigation capacity but also to continue building strong relations and network with legal practitioners specialised in asylum law.

Building on this course, aditus organised in February 2016 a workshop with all Maltese NGOs active within the asylum field. The aim of the workshop was to introduce the new reception system for asylum seekers in Malta and to discuss together common strategic goals and Action Plan for the coming months.

aditus has been monitoring the transposition of the EU Reception Directive during the full legislative process and delivered a comprehensive presentation on the new system. While we welcome the end of systematic and automatic detention for every migrant entering Malta irregularly, some serious concerns remain (e.g. availability of legal challenges, lack of alternatives to detention, etc.).


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