Building Bridges Toolkit
The Toolkit was designed to collect and share the know-how on voluntary projects involving people seeking or who have recently found refuge, as well as raising awareness on forced migration in general. The collection of guidelines, methods and case studies is non-exhaustive and should simply foster your own inspiration and support you in implementing projects on the topic. The creation of the Toolkit has been driven by the ever bigger need of the international SCI network to exchange best practices on projects in the field. It was coordinated by SCI Switzerland with the support of Útilapu Hungary. Its existence wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and the active contribution of the Building Bridges working group and a number of SCI branches.
Case studies are successful implemented examples sharing with you what is going on in the SCI movement on the topic of refugees and migration.
NO BORDERS CORNER
FAIRY TALES OF THE WORLD
Section creation and cultural activities in municipal library
Context and idea
Zavod Voluntariat in collaboration with the Slovene NGO Humanitas helped expand the section called The House of the Worlds, the latter one already had installed in the library. The No Borders Corner section was created for books in Middle Eastern languages, like Arabic, Pashto, Farsi, Urdu, Kurdish etc. In this way the refugees and asylum seekers can access books in their own languages and at the same time could gather and integrate within the local community. This section in the library is also essential to raise awareness on the topic of forced migrations among Slovenian citizens: as the number of refugees is quite low and the asylum centers are mostly located outside city centers, for majority of the people it’s hard to get in touch with migrants or refugees and to get to know their situation. The space is also a counterweight to manipulations (like nationalist propaganda), fear and irrational prejudice and offers opportunities to meet, connect and get to know each other.
Objectives and aim
The main aim of the projects is to facilitate the integration and settling (temporary or permanent) of refugees and asylum seekers by offering them a special space in one of the municipality libraries where they can reach books in their languages. In addition people can learn about the worlds of others and establish intellectual ties.
- Asylum seekers and refugees
- Local community
History and description
The project was realized in collaboration with the Slovene NGO Humanitas, which has been working for years in the fields of global education and social inclusion. The number of refugees and asylum seekers in Slovenia is quite low in comparison with other European countries. Thus, the social inclusion is even harder for them, they can’t count on the support of big communities of people from Iraq or Syria, for instance, as in some other states of the EU. That is why Zavod Volontariat wanted to offer them a safe place where they can access books in their languages and at the same time integrate within the local community.
In order to increase the knowledge of this project, Zavod Volontariat prepared promotional events in the central municipality library for inaugurating the space, which was aimed at the end users as well as the general public. There were at least 40 people at the opening ceremony, including the journalist of one of the biggest daily newspaper Dnevnik who reported about the event. Afterwards the books and the library section were promoted at 3 other locations; an asylum center in Ljubljana (for single men) and in Maribor and Logatec where there are mainly families. Volunteers with refugee background helped to organize the events and served as translators as well as cultural mediators. Through the activities refugees and asylum seekers were reached who live in Slovenia and the general public as well who got to know the No Borders Corner through different media articles. Different communication channels (webpage, FB…) of both Humanitas Association and Zavod Voluntariat were used to promote the project and spread the information about the library corner. Moreover, they invited journalists for the inauguration, and they covered it in the newspaper, Dnevnik.
– informal feedback from asylum seekers and refugees that attended the event
– collecting the number of participants on each event
– monitoring the number of people that borrowed books from the section at the library
The cooperation with Humanitas Association allowed to afford more books, either buying or collecting them and both projects have been supported by the Refugee Fund of SCI International.
Sustainability and follow up
First of all, the reached asylum seekers and the refugees got to know about the possibility to borrow books in their own language from the Ljubljana’s Library. Starting from the opening of the No Borders Corner, many of them registered and took books home. Secondly, through the newspaper, Zavod Voluntariat and Humanitas Association reached the local population informing about the project and promoted it also through social media. The safe space started working, with gathering of locals and refugees in the same place. This contributed to the cultural exchange and gaining more knowledge about each other. The books were welcomed by the native speakers who started to ask for more of them, especially from the famous poets and writers of the Middle East.
In order to promote and increase cultural exchange between refugees, asylum seekers and the local population, the following year Zavod Volontariat applied again for the Refugee Fund with the Fairy Tales of the World project. Through the extension of the inventory by new books, based on the preferences of the refugees of their favourite works of literature, the users get the opportunity to get to know new works from the Middle East. The initiative aims to enrich the knowledge of the world of every visitor and to connect them, in order to lower barriers and promote mutual understanding. Hence, Zavod Volontariat had organized 4 fairy tale nights, where tales in different languages were narrated. In this way, they collected fairy tales unknown to both local community´s and the refugees´ children. In that sense the project has continued to guarantee it´s sustainability and impact. Social inclusion and integration was facilitated and prejudices of the local community lowered. Being an Eurocentric society, through offering more knowledge about the world, the project aimed to open the horizons of both local community as well as newcomers. Through the Fairy Tales of the World more visitors got invited to the municipal library which encouraged the intercultural dialogue. Such literature nights as cultural events supported and strengthened the mutual respect of the participants, offering them the possibility to communicate and to learn more from different cultures. Their third event was a bit different, since it was incorporated into a bigger event through the cooperation with other NGO’s, where different opportunities for the integration of refugees and asylum seekers were presented as well as some singing and dancing performances, next to the poems reading. You can see the video of that third event below.