The Asylum Centre in Bogovađa is a place we spend our time every day, dedicating special attention to the youngest. Group 484 team conducts daily activities for children of different ages in the “Children’s Corner” in Bogovađa. There they learn letters, languages, songs, exercises, do memory exercises, adopt various skills, work in a team … All these activities are actually preparations for enrolling children in school, aiming at their better integration.
Since the integration process is a two-way process, we also worked with the school, teachers and school students to prepare them for the enrolment children asylum seekers. The first step in working with teachers was the seminar of professional development “We and the Others”, accredited for the competences of intercultural and interethnic cooperation, adjusted to their specific context and task. The seminar was held on June 2 and 3, for teachers of “Mile Dubljević” Elementary School in Lajkovac, its class in Bogovađa, where the children accommodated in the Centre in Bogovađa will be enrolled.
The introductory lecture highlighted the legal framework for the protection of asylum seekers and migrants, the differentiation of legal terms related to migration, the issues of their rights and obligations, and especially the right to education of children. It was followed by the cultural characteristics of children asylum seekers and migrants: characteristics of the regions they come from, customs, cultures and family relations, as well as the characteristics of education systems in the countries of their origin.
Teachers were also presented with the model of psychosocial and educational work of Group 484 team at the Children’s Corner, as well as the results of interviews and assessment of knowledge of asylum seekers’ children. In addition, it was discussed about the benefits of involving children in the education system, as well as the obstacles and ways to overcome obstacles through empowering the local community.
The lectures of the first day were held by Zorana Teodorović, lawyer of Group 484 Centre for Migration, Gordana Vukašin, coordinator of activities at the Children’s Corner, as well as members of the team: Draženka Čelebićanin, associate in educational and psychosocial work; Svetlana Hajdari, Arabic translator, and Miroslav Mešanović, Farsi translator.
On the second day, Robert Kozma, the educational program coordinator, and artist Ivana Bogićević Leko presented the model of social support for women asylum seekers. The concept of Sofra Art as a way of intercultural exchange and acquaintance was presented, as well as the products created during these workshops. In addition, the methodology for collecting documentary material and the ways of presenting and shaping the material was shown on the example of the exhibition about the life and the way of migrants and asylum seekers “Border is Closed”, which we realised in cooperation with the Museum of African Art, also designed and as a teaching tool for talking about migration in schools.
The seminar participants were presented previous experiences and methods of research work with school students in the field of interculturalism, and through dealing with local social history and cultural exchange through the history of everyday life of communities.
The second day ended with designing working methods with school students in order to encourage interaction and exchange with their peers, asylum seekers, within extracurricular activities.
This plan was implemented after several days, when teachers, in cooperation with Group 484 team, organised joint intercultural activities in the form of “Games without Borders”, for 30 school students and as many future school students – migrants from the Centre in Bogovađa. During the event, the children got to know each other and, through the game, learned about diversity and acceptance.
At the end of the campaign, we decided to mark the World Refugee Day in Bogovađa and organise an event that would please children, but also their parents. We organised a sports day and handicraft workshops, and invited the Inex Circus Theater to be our guests. The Inex Circus Theater is an organisation for the development of contemporary circus, motion theater, performance and street theater. The youngest inhabitants of the camp were impressed with the acrobatics. They soon wanted to participate, try and learn circus techniques. They were not satisfied with the role of the audience, but some of them participated in the performance. At the same time, their older friends competed in the football tournament, and their mothers and sisters were engaged in painting textile. All these actions took place in the courtyard of the Center, and the entire event looked like a carnival picnic, which lasted until sunset.
Photos: Jelena Mijić
Project: INVOLVED – INclusiVe COmmunities Lead to the Vibrant SociEty without Discrimination; Our new neighbours – a step closer; Psychosocial Support to Migrant and Refugee Children, Women and Parents/Care-Givers in the Bogovađa Asylum Centre
Goal: Project goal is raising awareness of asylum seekers and migrants, general and professional public on social, economic and cultural rights of asylum seekers and migrants; Contribution to the development of the reception system for different categories of migrants and an open and tolerant society; Psychosocial wellbeing of refugee and migrant children, women and parents/care-givers supported through an adequate psychosocial support programme.
Implementers: Group 484 (Educational Program “We and the Others” and Direct Support Program)
Support: The Delegation of European Union in RS – European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR); Open Society Foundation Serbia; Save the Children