STRANGERS? Getting Closer – Safer Together (“Safe Childhood” Empowering Children Foundation, project cofunded by the VELUX Foundations and Stefan Batory Foundation)
The beginnings of our cooperation with refugee centres and schools attended by refugee children dates back to 2009. Our activities focus on providing support in education and integration of refugee children and adults living in refugee centres in the Lublin region. Our project draws on experiences of refugee centre employees and school authorities in Bezwola and Łuków. Our diagnosis indicates that psychological and pedagogical assistance should extend beyond refugee centres and should include schools, where foreign children come into contact with their Polish peers and experience Polish customs and mentality. Our aim is to provide psychological and integration support to refugee children learning in Polish schools. These objectives are realised in various ways, such as working together during creative workshops, where the knowledge of language is put to the margin, as well as through work of cultural assistants and the support of cultural psychologist, who organise workshops and counselling for parents in refugee centres.
There are two target groups of our project, primary school children and their parents. The project would be realised over the period of 6 months, between September 2016 and February 2017, in Bezwola and Łuków. The actions undertaken in the project will allow us to:
help school teachers in everyday work with refugee children and refugee parents to bring up their children in aggression-free environments; activate parents (mothers) in the education of their children and in providing the children with sociopsychological support; boost creativity of refugee children and foster interactions between Polish and refugee peers.
Our project was aimed at assisting refugee children (attending schools in the vicinity of the refugee centres) in integration and providing their mothers with psychological support (e.g. by teaching the how to raise children without violence). We hope to counteract violence among inhabitants of refugee centres in Łuków and Bezwola. 80 hours of psychology workshops devoted to upbringing without violence for mothers, and 80 hours of integration workshops for the children were carried out under the project in primary schools in Bezwola and no. 5 in Łuków. The series of workshops has been completed by 8 women in Łuków and 8 women in Bezwola, whereas individual classes and counselling sessions were attended by 26 more participants. The participation in the project has built the confidence and awareness in women, who had not had an opportunity to partake in such workshops before. One measure of the project’s success may be that the women continue asking about the continuation of the project and send in potential new participants, interested in joining the project in the future. The values that appeared the most important for the participants were: a sense of togetherness, unity, an opportunity to share their experiences with a group and to discuss their problems, as well as the feeling of not being alone. The integration workshops were conducted in the form of art-and-education classes in Bezwola and Łuków, and were attended by 221 students. The workshops were designed so that the barriers between Polish and refugee children could be overcome, and provided a great deal of fun, play, creation, interaction, learning and getting to know each other. More information regarding the project can be accessed at: http://razembezpieczniej.dlaziemi.org/.