Considering the rare occasion of friendships blooming between locals and persons who have found refuge in Malta, non-profit organisation Ħal Far Outreach felt the need to change things up, thus coming up with its Malta Migrant Befriending Programme. https://open.http.mp.streamamg.com/p/3001261/sp/300126100/embedIframeJs/uiconf_id/30025486/partner_id/3001261?iframeembed=true&playerId=kaltura_player_0_oogf0mg6&entry_id=0_oogf0mg6&flashvars%5BstreamerType%5D=auto
Through this project, the organisation aimed to promote the integration of asylum seekers and refugees into Maltese society by bringing together twelve asylum-seekers, or refugees, with eight long-term Maltese residents during a number of group events.
On Sunday, Newsbook.com.mt was invited to attend the last event of the year-long programme to observe the fruits borne through this project.
Social media coordinator Alena Tokareva spoke to this newsroom, explaining that during the past year, the participants had the opportunity to get to know each other through numerous events once every two weeks.
The activities included hikes, movement workshops, a beach clean-up and other sports activities. The participants also attended artistic workshops on bookbinding and collage making, and also visited the Manoel Theatre together.
We also spoke with programme coordinator Cristina Agius about the experience, who expressed her satisfaction with the positive outcome of the project, which saw participants from different countries overcoming language and cultural barriers, and creating genuine connections.
“We are now working for these connections to go beyond the programme,” she explained.
Participants describe their experience: “We found a community”
Newsbook.com.mt also spoke to various participants, including Elena, a long-term resident from Italy, who highly recommended the experience.
She said that she wished that the programme lasted even longer, as through it, the members found a community.
A foreigner herself, Elena stated that Malta needs more occasions for foreigners and locals to come together, as it greatly lacks these opportunities. https://open.http.mp.streamamg.com/p/3001261/sp/300126100/embedIframeJs/uiconf_id/30025486/partner_id/3001261?iframeembed=true&playerId=kaltura_player_0_x84b4cf0&entry_id=0_x84b4cf0&flashvars%5BstreamerType%5D=auto
Ahmed, a refugee from Sudan who has been in Malta for the past three years, also expressed his appreciation for the opportunity, saying that a bit of fun was necessary in life, particularly after a week of work.
He said that the programme was a great opportunity to meet people from different countries and cultures and to improve communication between different kinds of people.https://open.http.mp.streamamg.com/p/3001261/sp/300126100/embedIframeJs/uiconf_id/30025486/partner_id/3001261?iframeembed=true&playerId=kaltura_player_0_zod8p2wv&entry_id=0_zod8p2wv&flashvars%5BstreamerType%5D=auto
Carmen, a Maltese woman from Żurrieq, said that despite her age, she always felt home throughout the project. “I loved them and they loved me back,” she said referring to all the participants.
She then went on to encourage anyone interested to participate in the initiative.
Reach out to Ħal Far Outreach
While the official programme has come to an end, the initiative has not, as the organisers hope to keep the project going without official funding.
In fact, the participants have decided to set up a Whatsapp group to continue their encounters beyond the funded project. Those wishing to participate in future meet-ups are encouraged to contact Ħal Far Outreach on firstname.lastname@example.org or on their social media pages.
Ħal Far Outreach is a non-profit organisation that helps to empower those who seek refuge in Malta, with a specific focus on the people who are residing in and around the Open Centers in Ħal Far.
The organisation mainly provides migrants with informative support, for example offering English language classes and computer classes for migrants. If you would like to help out, the organisation is currently searching for persons interested in joining their board.
The year-long Malta Migrant Befriending Project was funded through the Voluntary Organisation Project Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector.