Volunteering with Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Here the experience of Immanuel, a volunteer from India working with Asylum Seekers and Refugees. During the Training in Italy he accompanied us in the activity to understand the similarities between past and present asylum, excapes and persecutions. 

It’s a honor for me to present and share my working experience with Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. My arrival to Italy and Europe as well for the first time in abroad is on 29th of August 2015, as an(EVS) Volunteer. I feel happy to work as an EVS volunteer to get into the world where I never been and understood how it could be in the reality. My voluntary project is for nine months starting from 1st September of 2015 to May 31st 2015.

I work as a program coordinator for the state of Karnataka in India mainly working with college and university students who are young and futures of the world.

DSC_0145As I began my work with the immigrants, asylum seeker and refugees my first impact I felt was so dangerous to see group of African friends once at a place and found difficulties to communicate and work with them most of the times. My working placement is in the region of Turin, a small village named as Villar Pellice and the camp name is Crumiere, the beautiful valley of Val Pellice which is about 15 minutes drive from the place where I live. We have 60 people accommodated in Crumiere coming from different counties of Africa like Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Mali, etc,.
I involve in different activities not the same as every day, works such as assisting the office, preparing documents for the refugees like medical records, commission records, personal data, etc,. also guiding them in sports, organizing fishing for the guys twice in a month, where I could see guys are very expert in catching fish, that will be cooked by next day in the canteen, physical fitness center, looking after their hygienic needs, cleaning works inside the campus, and look after their disciplinary life during their stay, organizing weekly shop and service for clothing, basic needs and medical assistance to the hospitals when it’s in need, guys are also invited to perform on a radio show where people can show their talents with singing and music as well.

 

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I also spend my time in building my friendship and talking with guys to understand their difficulties, life situation back in their home town. Which made me to work on the ecumenical fellowship in worship and Bible study with the Christian friends. So joining with the local pastor Rev. Gregarious (waldesian Church) organized a weekly get together
bringing them together irrespective of their denominations and doctrinal practice its going well now. As I spend my time in talking personally I could able to understand there are two faith groups, Islam and Christianity.

 

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On 31st of October, 2015 we have started
with the first day of fellowship with Christian friends where we had people from different denominations like Pentecostal, Roman catholic, Baptist, Independent Church Etc,.  also on the same day evening we had a DJ festa (Party for the guys) where we also invited around 150 people from the local community to understand the Immigrants project and the working pattern of the project, followed by inter cultural dinner representing different traditional foods like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Italian and other kinds of foods are like Chapati, Dal Poori, fish fry, pasta, rice and subji etc. It was a different experience for the African as well Italian people to taste the typical foods from these countries. The guys had real good time in DJ, dancing and showcasing their own traditional dance back in their own countries in Africa. To see people enjoying during the Music was a great feeling to see them forgetting all their worries and troubles and problems the outcome was good out of this very Fest.
DSC_0255The system of working with asylum seeker and refugees is quite interesting, in a way the process of receiving them, assisting them to a better place to live, look after their basic needs, helping them to learn the Italian language, teaching them the disciplinary and hygienic life style and the culture of the European community. Above all understanding the life background for their escape into the Europe and preparing for their commissions and interview. apart from that involving them in Musical Workshop, athletic programs, organizing party, etc,.

Having these interesting things as a main quality in my work I also find some difficulties and obstacles, according to me and my perspective it’s hard to understand the cultural behavior of the guys in the public space, language barrier to communicate and to understand what s their need and requirements, lack of unity within them divided it group with language and nationality but not having the spirit of African. I also find hard and difficult when the local community see me as a refugee and think one among them while they see me in my work place because of that most of the time I have been kept away and some time the workers do not trust me to do certain things. This real experience makes me understand the seriousness of Racism which prevail everywhere no matter whether it is developed country or under developed countries.

 

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Going through ups and downs with in this short working experience with asylum seekers and refugees I learned a lot about this big structure of working for the immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees. which was completely unaware to me in the past. Though back in India we have similar problems from neighboring countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar where I work now giving me huge learning to know the system of working and making them the documents and so on. I feel great to be placed and work with this project of immigrants to learn and understand the new world of different culture, language and life style. Having said this I also have some future dream to do with immigrants as I work for some more months as well, to understand the United Nations and European system of working for the immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees. As we have two religious group it is my wish and dream as an SCMer to bring them for an Ecumenical gathering to share their feelings and have fellowship as they live as one brothers in this camp, sports activity to be organized with local community with the refugee friends.

 

DSC_0371With this working experience it is my dream to take this serious context of European Union of immigrants, asylum seeker and refugees back to Indian SCM and challenge the young community who are not aware of this very serious global phenomena. It will be a great learning for Indian SCMers to understand and give voice to the suffering community who are effected and lost the real identity in the name of war, religious persecution and economical reason. SCM India will stand in solidarity and support in awareness campaign with the student community for the refugees to find peace and Justice in near future. It is my prayer and wish that European community will stand strong to receive fellow brothers and sisters to show the unique Love of God showed in the form of Jesus Christ without any differences, which will enrich and enable the immigrants asylum seeker and refugees to stand and see Justice and Peace one day.

 

Immanuel, India

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