As you might have read in previous editions of EFILife, EFIL is taking part in the project Time to be Welcome.
“Time to be welcome” encourages young volunteers and Youth Organisations in Europe to support the welcoming of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and their integration process in both society and their new country through the use of non-formal education and youth work.
The project is co-funded by the European Commission through the Erasmus + Programme KA3 – Support for policy reform and Social Inclusion.
Read more about the project on http://www.timetobewelcome.eu
Currently Josephine Billedo Malvar from AFS Germany is volunteering in Paris on behalf of EFIL. She will be in Paris for 12 months where she will work with Refugees and local community as well as attending international trainings and events around Europe.
We asked Josephine to share some first impressions of the project and her volunteer work.
“Time to be welcome” à Paris 2017
Since I arrived in Paris on 4 September, weeks just passed like a light breeze and I still haven’t fully realised yet that I will work with Singa and EEUDF for the project Time to be welcome for a year.
Singa has been established in 2012 and through different projects such as Calm-Comme à la maison, Passionsand Projects to encourage entrepreneurship, the organisation firstly raises awareness and changes perception of the refugees’ role in the community, secondly gives support during their socio-economic integration and thirdly creates bonds. In comparison, EEUDF, Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs Unionistes de France, is a Protestant Scouting and Guiding organisation which offers children and youths various activities on a national and international level.
I will be involved in the project called Singa Jeunesse, in which Singa and EEUDF are collaborating to connect asylum seekers, refugees, scouts and the French society while targeting children and youths through their participation in the activities. Since Singa Jeunesse is a very new project, it was difficult for me to find my role. At the beginning the greatest difficulty was staying patient, because I expected to start working directly with the refugees and being involved in activities as soon as I arrived. Apparently, I skipped the administrative part in my mind which is in fact a fundamental step to establish a project. Therefore it took me some time to acquaint myself with the unfamiliar working and living environment.
Apart from that I went on a training in Athens where I attended practical and theoretical courses to acquire skills and methods on how to deal with traumatized people. This training was very interesting and helpful for our work with refugees for example learning the grounding techniques.
Now, slowly but surely, my daily life in Paris takes shape. First meetings have been taking place with “Karibu” which means “home/welcome” in Swahili, an initiative by scouts I will also work with. It encourages, guides and supports elder scouts to build up activities with and for young refugees and asylum seekers. Last weekend I had the possibility to spend enjoyable days with scouts in a beautiful forest.
For a few weeks I am regularly attending free French lessons organised by students and the Red Cross. At the moment we are trying to implement new ideas such as intercultural events, activities dealing with sustainable development, etc. and furthermore to find supporters. The first step is always the most difficult and for that reason I stay optimistic and anticipated concerning the next months in Paris.