human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

YoungCaritas MigrAction Weekend

Young people reflecting on migration

The 7th MigrAction-Weekend of youngCaritas took place from September 10 – 13. For four days, various national and international aspects of the topic of migration were highlighted in various workshops, panel discussions and lectures.

What distinguishes the MigrAction-Weekend?

Open to all interested individuals

The MigrAction Weekend is open to all interested young adults. It is not a condition to be a youngCaritas volunteer in order to participate. The MigrAction-Weekend also gives the opportunity to young people to get in touch with youngCaritas for the first time and to get to know Caritas Switzerland as an organisation. The group is accordingly diverse. The participants bring along different previous knowledge and project experiences. In addition, every year there are also participants with a refugee background. When planning the programme, youngCaritas aims to actively involve them as a valuable resource.

Participatory organisation

It is highly important for youngCaritas Switzerland to organise its services and programmes in a participatory manner. The MigrAction Weekend is a model example in this respect. Young people with an interest in the topic of migration can not only be participants of the weekend, but also actively participate in the planning of the weekend. A team of about six volunteers is responsible for planning the MicrAction programme. These volunteers determine the main focus of the programme and independently organise workshops and write inquiries to experts if needed. Employees of youngCaritas support them and take care of the organisation and logistics in the background.

Networking with other organisations

youngCaritas is concerned to not operate in competition but in partnership with other organisations from the migration sector. Thus, the MigrAction Weekend offers a good opportunity to network with other organisations and to maintain these contacts over a long-term period. Participants also benefit from this, since they can get to know different organisations and their work and to address their questions to competent experts.

Education and Fun in One

The MigrAction Weekend is deliberately designed not only as a weekend of further education. Just as important is the informal exchange among the participants but also between participants and youngCaritas employees. Therefore, free time slots and leisure activities in the programme are just as important as the workshops and theme inputs.

A review of the MigrAction Weekend 2020:

Day 1: What is culture?

We started the MigrAction Weekend raising this question and therefore introduced a card game, which was played with different rules at each table. What happens when you move from the old table to a new table with new rules? Using the card game rules as a metaphor for different cultures, the game ended up in a discussion about the meaning of terms such as “culture” and “values”.

Day 2: What does home mean?

What does home mean? What does it take to feel “at home” somewhere? In an interesting discussion, Maria, a young woman who came to Switzerland in 2012 and was a participant in the MigrAction Weekend, and Mohammed, who has lived in Switzerland since 1988, exchanged their views.

An important aspect in terms of integration is to find employment. In the following workshop, two job coaches for refugees explained the processes in Switzerland and shared their experiences. In the afternoon, a specialist from IOM Bern, an intergovernmental organisation, provided information on human trafficking, resettlement and return assistance. She impressively showed us the various hurdles that asylum seekers face.

In the evening, a speaker from the One Happy Family Community Center on Lesbos and a speaker from SOS Méditerranée gave us a powerful presentation about the deadly escape route across the Mediterranean Sea and the situation on the Greek island of Lesbos. In the subsequent discussion, the participants critically reflected on the European policies in general and the role of Switzerland in particular.

Day 3: International Refugee Contexts

Around 80 million people are on the run worldwide. To a large extent, these movements are taking place in the global south and do not affect Europe and Switzerland. A programme employee of Caritas Switzerland gave us an insight into the situation in South America: In Venezuela, people have been victims of a grueling political power struggle for a long time, which has drastically deteriorated the living conditions in Venezuela. Afterwards we focused on the situation in the multi-ethnic state of Myanmar. The programme manager of the Swiss Red Cross described and explained the background to the large flight movements of the Muslim minority of the Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Afterwards, the participants received first-hand information in a live video link to the SRC regional office manager in Cox’s Bazar about how NGOs are acting on the ground and dealing with the current challenges with the Covid 19 pandemic.

After an intensive morning, the participants deserved a free afternoon and could choose between different leisure programmes. Some participants were given a guided tour of the nearby mosque, some brave ones dared to take a short bath in the cold river, others stayed at the house and enjoyed the sun. The last evening was rounded off with a film screening and afterwards some time around a campfire.

Day 4: Project Café

Learn many new things about migration and flight – but how can I become active myself? Exactly for this purpose, the Project Café is an important part of the end of the weekend. On the one hand the volunteer offers of youngCaritas were presented, on the other hand the participants got the possibility of presenting projects, in which they engage themselves. This valuable networking opportunity was, again, highly appreciated by the participants.

Alternative Text

author

Reto Schefer

youngCaritas Switzerland
responsible for education programs

Tester 2Tester 4Tester 6