The project aims at creating a multicultural life & learning community, consisting of refugee and local families, which shall develop new improved methods along the axes of empowerment, inclusion and active participation in social life. At times of increased xenophobia and social indifference, we want to create a safe space for families, facilitate intercultural dialogue & communication, empower agency, and foster collective action.
Lesvos island, Greece
The local community of Lesvos becomes a conduit or witness of verbal, practical and institutional racism on a daily basis. The negative stereotypes about migrants and refugees reflect both the anti-migration policies in national and European level and an immense lack of knowledge regarding the newcomers' background. From their other side, migrants and refugees are trapped in poor living conditions and in insecurity regarding their legal status. These elements very often affect their mental health and their perception of their capacity to improve their life and, all the more so, the society they live in. For these reasons, we view the need for empowering the intercultural dialogue and for stimulating joint community activities as fundamental. This is the goal of our project.
Currently, MD daily offers an innovative Early Childhood & Care setting for local and refugee children. Our goal is to engage their parents to an empowering intercultural dialogue, which will support both refugees and locals on a practical, intellectual and emotional level. We believe that this example offers an alternative narrative towards the building of an organic multicultural community. Our target groups are:
• Recognized refugee families residing in the region
• Local families
• The general public
We are planning to intensively work with app.30 parents pro academic year. App.300 ppl. will attend our community events and seminars. We expect to reach out to thousands of ppl. by networking on national and European level and through our own and our partners' powerful social media.
Our action plan contains the following methods & activities:
1)Buddy System support: Each local parent pairs with a refugee parent to provide practical support on issues relating to access to public services, visits to doctors, job search, etc.
2)General assembly (GA): The local and refugee parents of MD constitute the GA. The GA will discuss the group’s needs and suggest team building activities, workshops & events. The main needs experienced at the past regarding community formation, were related to cultural awareness and communication tools. A trained facilitator will coach the GA to make decisions using the collective intelligence of the group towards agreed-upon objectives and support participation and democratic dialogue.
3)Workshops & activities: The GA members will organize joint activities related to their capacities and interests, e.g. nature excursions, cultural tours, cooking, film projections, sports activities. Moreover, the facilitator will support the a) community formation and b) specific needs addressed by the GA, by delivering workshops on team development, emotional intelligence, human rights, intercultural competence & non-violent communication.
4)Extrovert community activities: The GA will organize workshops, events & celebrations to raise awareness, impregnate our values and stimulate dialogue between the wider local and refugee population of Lesvos.
In the short run, i.e. during the implementation of the project, the members of MD community will have the opportunity to:
i. build relationships & trust, express themselves and act within a safe environment,
ii. collaborate, develop conflict management & team decision tools,
iii. train themselves in matters of their rights & interests,
iv. create links with the broader society.
In the long run, i.e. upon completion of the project, participants will have acquired skills, tools and relationships that will make a decisive contribution to their social inclusion, ‘social capital’ and further empowerment.
With the support of open-minded educators, young children in the frame of MD experience intercultural inclusion and develop agency & empathy. The proposed project aims at empowering their parents to do the same. Till now, the context of MD has been inspiring parents’ participation despite adversities (e.g. refugee parents’ lack of interest due to struggling with problems, local parents’ lack of time). Using tested methods & tools, the project’s actors will create a safe space for expression, exchange and common action. In it, the members of the community will have the chance to cultivate intercultural competence, decide in consensus and act. Refugee parents will learn about their rights among people of trust and will be supported to speak up, build their agency and reconstruct their lives.
Behind this idea, there is a group of people who are determined to change the harsh reality of the island they live on. The project manager is a social anthropologist with 10 years of experience in humanitarian work, 6 of which on Lesvos, and an expertise in community-based protection. The social psychologist at her side has a rich working experience with multicultural communities and solidarity projects, in and out of Lesvos. The two of them are surrounded by parents of MD Early Childhood Education & Care setting, who have been eager to approach each other since years, yet have lacked the adequate resources (e.g. interpreter, facilitator). MD is a passionate grassroots organization that has worked hard, built together, and overcome big adversities. We are very eager to continue doing so.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs: (Project & financial management // Cultural mediation // Coordination and facilitation of community meetings & workshops): 32500 EUR
Community activities: 1500 EUR
Total cost: 34000 EUR
Any feedback is more than welcome!