Between 19 and 22 April 2018, as part of ‘Together Moving Forward’, we went to Berlin to talk with the initiators of SHAMS, a project led by refugee students aiming to provide information to other refugees and asylum seekers who want to access the Higher Education system in Germany: procedures, documentation and the different opportunities they can apply for.
A workshop, brochures and personalised consultation were facilitated in order to develop the initiative.
During the visit, we interviewed Izem Günyakti, one of the initiators of the project:
‘We found an information gap […] then the idea started as what we can achieve in a very short time (to counter this lack of information)?’
‘We saw there was a network evolving […] our biggest achievement is that we are still keeping this network including refugee and asylum seekers prospective students, advocates and other organisations giving support in the sense of counselling services’
Thereupon, we arrived at our second stop, Warsaw; where we met the people behind Fundacja Przestrzeń Wspólna who are running the project ‘Students for Refugee Kids’. They are a group of -mainly- student volunteers who tutor refugee children helping them with homework and Polish language skills.
Natalia Kur is one of the volunteers participating in the programme: ‘I help with many different things […] I feel I am a member of the family’ she said, thinking of continuing working on it for the next edition.
We also spoke with Maria Zlonkiewicz, coordinator of the project: ‘the support is really important, we are having regular evaluation meetings […] they (the volunteers) have access to psychologists, my support as a coordinator, cultural mentors […] and they have access to funds to do integration meetings with the kids, to buy materials for their classes, etc.’
‘Together, Moving Forward’ is ESU small grants programme willing to build positive refugee-host interactions across Europe. In March 2018, we have launched the second edition to keep funding university student and/or refugee-led projects up to 10.000 euros.
We offer support to viable and valuable initiatives working on inclusion and facilitating the access of Refugee and Asylum seekers to Higher Education studies.
You can have a look at the past projects here.
The first participants for 2018 edition will be revealed soon after the evaluation of the proposals received following the first call.