February at JRS

16 April 2024

If you were asked to describe February, you would probably say that it is the only female month of the year, that it is the end of winter, that it is the shortest month of the year, that February is simply a whirlwind. In the Croatian language, February means longer days, and the Latin name “Februar” comes from the word februaris, which means cleansing from sin. For some, February is also the month of love.

This month of love is especially important for JRS, although it is short, there was no lack of love and good parts. It is precisely through love that the vision and mission of the Jesuit Refugee Service to accompany, serve and advocate is fully fulfilled.

We are partners in the EU project EPIC (European Platform of Integrating Cities), funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), which deals with the integration of migrants. The project is implemented in seven countries with the strong support of local communities from the following cities: Lisbon (Portugal), Alcorcon (Spain), Brescia (Italy), Ioannina (Greece), Oberhausen (Germany), Gdansk (Poland) and from Croatia (city Sisak and the Elementary School Braće Bobetko and the Jesuit Service for Refugees).

Therefore, on February 1, 2023, new computer equipment, VR equipment and educational materials that will develop learning through play were handed over for use. This will further refine the offer of the unique Game Center and the “Let’s Go Together” Toy Library, which are located within Braće Bobetko Elementary School.

The VR equipment aroused the special interest of the students, and they all wanted to try the VR glasses and play the game that was specially made for them. The game was created by Incubator of gaming industry developers from Novska. The main character of the storytelling game is a robot, which comes to school from another planet. The students help him find his way by solving quizzes and riddles, thus passing the levels of the game. The game is interactive and shows how new digital technologies and knowledge can be applied in the application of learning outcomes.

Also on the same day, the Local Campaign was presented as part of the work package related to the advocacy of integration and multiculturalism. The goal of the local campaign is to sensitize and teach students about the universal values ​​of respect, solidarity and equality so that all students, including migrants at Braće Bobetko Elementary School, are treated according to all the listed values.

On Monday, February 20, 2023, Mother Language Day was celebrated. A competition was organized for children from Ukraine on the topic “If the Ukrainian language were a person, it would be…”. The smallest shared their thoughts about their mother tongue with everyone, and the smallest who have not yet discovered the written word recorded their thoughts about their language with the help of their mothers and grandmothers.

The children took part in the quiz “Word from number” and the games “Make a word” and “Mathematical grammar”. The children prepared yellow and blue hearts and wrote on them the cities and regions they come from. Then they stuck the hearts on the map of Ukraine. The goal was to show the children that even though they come from different parts of Ukraine, they are united by the common Ukrainian language.

On Friday, February 24, 2023, an intercultural meeting of all refugees in Croatia was held in the premises of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Croatia. About thirty refugees and JRS volunteers gathered.

Most of the young refugees are from Arabic-speaking countries, and they arrived in Zagreb by train from Karlovac just for this meeting.

The meeting was photographed by Aver Tania, a young photographer who arrived from Ukraine this winter and is also a JRS volunteer.

At the end of the month, Alberto Ares, regional director of JRS Europe, visited us. We introduced him to our work and introduced him to some local customs of our dear Zagreb.

And on February 28, 2023, representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (LDSC) came to visit us in our SOL. LDSC is  our long-term partner on several projects. We introduced them to our work, and they had the opportunity to meet refugees from Syria, Eritrea and Ukraine.