Since I arrived in Paris on 4 September, weeks just passed like a light breeze and I still haven’t fully realised yet that I will work with Singa and EEUDF for the project Time to be welcome for a year.
Singa has been established in 2012 and through different projects such as Calm-Comme à la maison, Passionsand Projects to encourage entrepreneurship, the organisation firstly raises awareness and changes perception of the refugees’ role in the community, secondly gives support during their socio-economic integration and thirdly creates bonds. In comparison, EEUDF, Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs Unionistes de France, is a Protestant Scouting and Guiding organisation which offers children and youths various activities on a national and international level.
I will be involved in the project called Singa Jeunesse, in which Singa and EEUDF are collaborating to connect asylum seekers, refugees, scouts and the French society while targeting children and youths through their participation in the activities. Since Singa Jeunesse is a very new project, it was difficult for me to find my role. At the beginning the greatest difficulty was staying patient, because I expected to start working directly with the refugees and being involved in activities as soon as I arrived. Apparently, I skipped the administrative part in my mind which is in fact a fundamental step to establish a project. Therefore it took me some time to acquaint myself with the unfamiliar working and living environment.
Apart from that I went on a training in Athens where I attended practical and theoretical courses to acquire skills and methods on how to deal with traumatized people. This training was very interesting and helpful for our work with refugees for example learning the grounding techniques.
Now, slowly but surely, my daily life in Paris takes shape. First meetings have been taking place with “Karibu” which means “home/welcome” in Swahili, an initiative by scouts I will also work with. It encourages, guides and supports elder scouts to build up activities with and for young refugees and asylum seekers. Last weekend I had the possibility to spend enjoyable days with scouts in a beautiful forest
For a few weeks I am regularly attending free French lessons organised by students and the Red Cross. At the moment we are trying to implement new ideas such as intercultural events, activities dealing with sustainable development, etc. and furthermore to find supporters. The first step is always the most difficult and for that reason I stay optimistic and anticipated concerning the next months in Paris.
Josephine from AFS Germany is volunteering in Paris on behalf of EFIL.
This article was originally published in EFIL Life Edition 129, in Programmes and Projects, October 15, 2017