The Shimantik health care and school projects defy belief in their systematic extent to target disadvantaged groups through community health centres, outreach, a state of the art hospital being built, and an education centre. Inspiring vision and leadership from the founder!
For children born in the settlement, acculturation came easily. The older ones adapted quickly, both within their separate but proximate communities and especially at school. It was refreshing to see them mix as it was the most natural thing in the world.
Adults need more work, as they bring more entrenched experiences and tensions, even between national groups. They also need support and alternative economic means to encourage them to send children to school.
The refugee graduates had to walk long distances inside the flooded settlement, so after two days already one would have expected them not to come. Yet, one by one, here they were, and kept going. By the end celebration, even the sun came out!
First it was New Congo, then New Buja (Bujumbura – Burundi), New Kigali (Rwanda), and so on. Each part of the refugee settlement a new home for each community. Children’s language, attempts to rebuild houses and lives reflected families’ various stages of migration.
Same attempts for survival and starting a new life as New Smyrni (Izmir) for Greek or New England for English migrants. But we often have short memories and condemn migration by dissociating from our history – too painful or mere hypocricy?
Was this the first inter professional, intercultural and inter experience training so far? Hard to anticipate the range of skills from teaching, social work, psychology, counselling and law in this humble school room in a Uganda refugee camp.
Participants brought their experience from different fields and African countries, had to flee danger and persecution themselves, struggle as much as others in the camp, yet they volunteer in different roles to help children – it just doesn’t get better.
So, who missed PowerPoint today? And shouldn’t the two curious fellows be at school themselves?
One might be under the false impression that we can forget multiple disadvantage and severe trauma when visiting well developed services and a great city like Vienna. But problems find their way such as the rapidly rising number of refugee children here.
It was interesting to hear how specialist services rationalise their input; and how the SOS Children’s Villages had to respond in a short time by opening new care homes and appointing skilled staff. The highlight was clearly Hannes and his Psychology team based within Welfare Services – brave investment in the current climate, and plenty of innovation in engaging refugee and other vulnerable young people.