In Heraklion there are many asylum seekers, migrants and locals excluded from the labor market due to either status or lack of required skills. Few actors exist, integration is done without the quality links with the local society, creating social problems and contributing to xenophobic reactions. Our goal is to develop activities and relationships that will facilitate our society to evolve in one of solidarity, integration, respect for diversity and creative co-existence starting from our lab!
It will take place in the general area of Heraklion city, at the Island of Crete, Greece.
In Heraklion are there are scattered populations of asylum seekers from the recent refugee influx (up to 1800 people), migrant workers (approx. 3000) and many unemployed Greeks, who are excluded from the labor market primarily due to their status and their lack of required skills. There are very few actors providing for them and integration is done without building quality links with the local society. Even though many asylum seekers do not consider Greece as their final destination, having dreams of migrating to other European countries, people still feel isolated and abandoned which creates many psycho-social problems to the ones concerned and contributes to xenophobic reactions by elements of the local society. COVID-19 measures affected both the general population and these groups.
Our idea is to stimulate first a common ground where migrant and locals will have the opportunity to meet in an environment that would get to know each other's culture and that would be a first step to lift a lot of stereotypes and prejudices. Our principles of action are based on the participatory process, the joint planning of activities and the interaction inside the group and towards the society. We therefore learn by participating and we set an example of openness to the society around us. The message is clear: act!
Beyond the social, educational and professional integration and empowerment of refugee, migrant populations, we are also targeting local populations facing social exclusion of any kind (especial people with disabilities, nomadic and homeless people, single parent families, victims of domestic violence, the unemployed, LGBTQi, etc.) without any discrimination based on religion, origin, nationality, administrative status, gender and sexual determination, and age. As people in such conditions are many we would prioritize based on social criteria and our own capacity.
Continue to operate the Amalab, the Creative Integration Laboratory where migrants and locals are interacting principally with sewing lessons and other handicrafts, English and IT literacy courses aiming to their social inclusion, empowerment and professional training. We will add Integration Workshops (Induction, Social and Labor Inclusion, Human Rights, Civic Education, etc.) via training, drama theater and supportive acts in cooperation with specialists (psychologists, social workers, lawyers, artists, etc.) and the OMMA Studio Theater. In Parallel we will do other supportive acts, i.e. theater play for children while parents will participate in activities or support for any difficulties at school.
Our success is to create this interactive community and demonstrate vividly that social inclusion can happen, it only take a step forward! We don't have any illusion that things can happen miraculously or change in a year. But we will capitalize and share our experience showing that participants learned useful skills, were informed, opened their minds and interacted as equals between themselves and the environment around them. By being present in the society, we would like also to be known as an element of change against xenophobia and be able to repeat our activities in the years to come.
What we are seeing every day in our lab and as citizens of our society is that people are afraid of the other and this fear builds on stereotypes and prejudices and suddenly our societies suffers from either hate or indifference. We would like to inspire and stimulate people to act, participate, be in solidarity with the others, not from a position of power or strength but from equality, respect and democracy. That's the real Democracy, participation but also maintain open mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Which by the way it is a very important exercise, including refugees and migrants. That's how we can smash xenophobia and open the road to live together.
We are citizens of this society and we believe that only through action and solidarity this society will be and remain open, welcoming, receptive, fair, democratic, just, accessible, quantitative, full of colors, full of light. Hate, xenophobia, intolerance and exclusion have no part in our life, and in the life of our neighbors, our families, our cities. And we, as a mission in life we do what we can, and to motivate others, towards this.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Labοratory expenses 9000
Office Expenses 3000
Platform set up 3000
All comments and any advice are welcomed!