Civic education, Migration

On equal footing: empowering local communities

Creators

Who is behind this?

Monika Mazur-Rafał

Humanity in Action Poland

https://www.humanityinaction.org/country/poland/

Poland

Who is joining forces?

Municipal Public Library in Raszyn

http://bibliotekaraszyn.pl/

Poland


Sikh Temple in Raszyn

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gurudwara/182886255104602

Poland


Ethnographic Laboratory Association

https://etnograficzna.pl/

Poland


Our partnerships are based on reciprocity. Partners will share with us their local know-how, contacts within migrant and local communities, experiences, research and methods of working.

Idea

Idea pitch

Inhabitants of suburban municipalities nearby Warsaw experience little integration between the locals’ and migrants’ communities. This leads to tensions, hate speech and hate crimes directed at migrants. There are few places where migrants can ‘feel at home’ and function on equal terms. The innovative training On equal footing identifies and empowers local allies who together with migrant groups create spaces for dialogue and inclusion and address structural inequalities faced by migrants.

Where will your project idea take place?

The project will take place in the Mazovian Voivodeship, mainly in Raszyn.

What is the local challenge?

Villages and towns around Warsaw, such as Raszyn have recently become attractive places to live for migrants who cannot afford living in the capital or work nearby Warsaw. However, inhabitants of these suburban municipalities experience little to no integration between the locals and migrants. As in the public discourse migrants are presented as a threat and/or burden or at best as an exotic curiosity, positive aspects of migration are narrowed down to economic benefits for the country. That is why there are tensions that result in hate speech or/and hate crimes directed at migrants. There are only a few places in Poland where migrants’ can ‘feel at home’ and function on equal footing with local communities. Our project aims to test some solutions to instigate social change in this regard.

How does your idea strengthen democracy and active citizenship at a local and community level?

Respecting minority rights is a litmus test of democracy. Migrants in Poland are often instrumentally treated and scapegoated to deepen divisions between Poles and to rule them by fear. In the xenophobic discourse there is no place for migrants’ experiences. People living next to each other do not experience real encounters as they perceive themselves as aliens. Our project aims at giving them the chance to meet, talk and share their own perspectives on living together but apart. We enable migrants to become activists themselves and educate allies. It is in the interest of local communities to learn about the every-day inconveniences and human rights infringements migrants experience and to look together for solutions against intergroup hostility, discrimination, hate speech and crime.

Who are you doing it for?

We seek activists who want to become allies for migrants in their communities nearby Warsaw from both groups: migrants and locals. We are looking for motivated people who want to learn about migration from migrants and introduce them to Polish locals, create opportunities for dialogue and cooperation. These could be teachers, librarians, youth activists, senior citizens. The project beneficiaries will be migrant groups by being provided with space for sharing their views and know-how. The project audience is diverse. Preschoolers who will attend migrants and activists’ workshops in the library will pass information to their parents. Adults coming to workshops will share information with their friends and families. Adopting community organizing framework will make these groups intertwine.

How do you plan to get there?

Our project will consist of the following activities:
- Recruitment of approx. 30 activists involved in work for local communities, from small towns and villages, from minorities and marginalized groups
- Activist training to enhance community organizing skills and prepare them to lead workshops in their communities
- Conducting 2-3 workshops by activists in their communities. Between May and November 50-80 workshops will be organized
- Conducting 2 online meetings to share experiences after the workshops
- Conducting a webinar that addresses challenges activists faced
- Conducting second training to expand activists’ facilitation skills
- Launching min. 3 podcasts in which activists and migrant community members discuss their realities and experiences of living in Poland

What are the expected results?

With our project we will increase the civic literacy of activists living in small towns and villages and enhance their capacities in working with and for migrant communities. We will also empower migrants so they become active members of communities they live in. Thus, the project will contribute to building bridges between migrants and local populations, foster dialogue and reduce intragroup tensions. The project will also raise awareness of local stakeholders on structural inequalities migrant communities face which will lead to implementation of solutions improving migrants’ wellbeing. Therefore, the civic infrastructure will be enriched by making community spaces more inclusive and enlarging the group of socially active community members, upstanders and migrant self-advocates.

How does your initiative contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe?

Empowering migrant communities to become active members of their local communities promotes democratic practices and upholds democratic norms, in turn strengthening democracy as a whole. We believe that democracy is a dialogue of civic society, where the majority of the society recognizes and fulfills the needs of its minorities at the same time providing space for minorities to be independent social actors. With this project we foster the dialogue of the local population with migrants and educate future allies and upstanders, leading to a stronger civic cohesion and ensuring a more just, equal and inclusive society.

What is your story?

At HIA we focus on promoting knowledge, community and action in defense of democracy, pluralism, equity and human rights. Through human rights education we respond to current human rights challenges. We have been undertaking actions to reduce discrimination hate speech and crime. However, assuring rights of migrants’ and refugees’ is an issue of utmost urgency not only due to the prevailing trend of xenophobia and nationalism in Poland but also in the light of COVID-19. As UNHCR points out, refugees and migrants are groups particularly affected by the pandemic. So, we believe that swift but well thought out actions are needed, in particular the ones which aim at educating new leaders and allies for social change and at empowering refugees’ and migrants’ agency.

€ 49850,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

€ 49850,-

Total budget

Major expenses

Workshops and webinars for community organizers 15,400 EUR
Workshops organized by community organizers 9,800 EUR
Podcast production 1,500 EUR
Project promotion 3,000 EUR
Personnel cost 14,650 EUR
Purchase of a laptop 1,000 EUR
Overheads expenses 4,500 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We would be vitally interested to learn whether some similar initiatives have been implemented, where and what are best practices, how to implement the project more effectively, how to achieve a greater impact on civic literacy and attract more citizens to contribute to raising civic cohesion.

Team

HiaPL

Magda Bodzan

Monika Mazur-Rafał

Idea created on May 27, 2020

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