"YMCA: Youth for Migrants - Challenge Accepted"

Erasmus+ youth exchange “YMCA: Youth for Migrants – Challenge Accepted” took place in L-Imsida, Malta on 3rd – 11th of September, 2019. The mobility gathered 36 participants coming from Lithuania, Poland, Malta, Greece, Italy and Czech Republic. The main goal of the project was to make sure that NGOs and young people are aware of the successful means of integration through youth work and understand their ability to help the refugees through various (social) activities.

The inspiration for the Project

Thousands of people are still flocking to Europe for a search for safety and a better life. However, more often than not they end up in a place that does not want to use their potential, let alone welcome them. Is Europe going to keep the refugees out of work and out of the societies? It would be a huge burden and a fast track to a clash of cultures.

How to avoid that? The refugees must be integrated well. Their potential is an opportunity to grow and advance both culturally and economically. Our diverse consortium of youth NGOs believes that youth is the main drivers of integration; thus, we are willing to carry out a project “YMCA: Youth for Migrants – Challenge Accepted” that would concentrate on refugee integration through youth work and various youth initiatives (one of the main objectives of Erasmus+ KA1 action). This would allow youngsters to develop in a multicultural environment; thus building up their tolerance and increasing multilingualism. In the meanwhile, the refugees would integrate into the society faster, since the young would help them with the local language, culture, traditions, and other things crucial for normal life in a new country.

Key country representatives came to the APV and prepared suggestions for successful project implementation. This included activities planned, mentoring & support of the participants, rules to be followed, work with youth with fewer opportunities and result dissemination. The participating youth to APV had to do the same, including: (1) preparation to lead the activities themselves; or (2) create new activities to be implemented during the YE. After the APV, young participants came to the YE as well. Thus, they were asked to help with the selection of other young participants for the YE.

Objectives of the Project

1) help youth learn how to integrate refugees better through social activities;
2) raise the competencies of youth by developing new methods for refugee integration through youth work;
3) exchange good practices on alternative ways of taking care of refugees – integration and life within the local communities;
4) lower xenophobia, racism and foster multilingualism of the local youth;
5) spread the main idea of the project to European youth, other NGOs and the general public;
6) enable refugees to integrate more quickly into the Maltese society and the labour market;
7) gain insight into the possibilities for volunteering and other development opportunities.

36 active people from 6 different countries came to the youth exchange which was held in L-Imsida, Malta. During the mobility, youth have learned and developed new methods and tools for successful refugee integration through youth initiatives, Moreover, they have learned about the refugee communities & their culture. Additionally, youth have better understood how to communicate with them and learned how to organize social activities with and for refugees, as well as how to create long-term plans for refugee integration and disseminate project results to the public.

Project’s Activities

  • Info session on the current refugee situation in the world / analysing the knowledge assessment / who is refugee, asylum-seeker legal and illegal migrant?
  • Video/documentary movies watching afternoon – material on refugee integration was shown (short-movies, public speeches, etc.) in a non-formal environment. Discussions followed;
  • World Café Discussions on refugee integration through youth-work;
  • – Living Library workshop on Arabic culture (with a Syrian refugee); sharing experiences, discussions;
  • Visiting Red-Cross Day Center for Refugee Integration, meeting the community and activities within (discussions; interviewing & writing stories about the refugees;
  • Refugee Festival – allowed the refugee community to celebrate and show something of their culture to their new neighbours and home.

Project’s Success

Project “YMCA: Youth for Migrants – Challenge Accepted” proved to be a success. Participants have learned about the refugee communities & their culture, integration problems in Europe, how to communicate with refugees and integrate them through social activities. Moreover, youth have learned how to share positive stories about refugees in the media and what are the best ways of teaching them new languages through non-formal education;
As well,  they got to know how to organize social activities with and for refugees.

Furthermore, participants have learned a number of non-formal education methods and activities, which could be used in further projects. The setting and the nature of the project also strengthened youth cooperation and taught them more about youth initiatives in other European countries; thus, facilitate voluntarism. Youth also improved their IT skills, the knowledge which is necessary in the modern world of today. These competences will be used by the participants in their everyday life and increase the number of aware people, willing to work with sustainability issues.

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