May at JRS

16 April 2024

Photo of volunteers in Sisak

This month at JRS was as varied as spring, May flowers. It started with a wonderful gesture by pedagogues and animators who organized the birthday celebration of Ukrainian girl Mariia Ovcharenko for her 4th birthday in the premises of our “SOL” Integration Center. Children’s voices were heard through play, singing and origami workshops.

The roads led us to more southern regions, so our project coordinator Dajana had the opportunity to take our users and volunteers on a study trip to Milan and Bologna on the occasion of cooperation on the SHAPE project – Sharing Actions for the Participation and Empowerment of migrant community and Local Authorities. The most impressive part of the trip was going through Migrantour, an intercultural urban route designed and run by citizens of migrant origin in Milan. The trip was also attended by representatives of the City of Zagreb and the Public Open University of Zagreb.

At the end of the month, our Dajana together with the representative of the Public Open University of Zagreb, Ivana Sabo, JRS volunteer, Odai Ajam, and SHAPE Academy participant, Sodaba Najib, went on another study trip to Stuttgart on the occasion of the project already mentioned. The program included a presentation of the social inclusion policy “The Stuttgart Pact for Integration” and a visit to Refugee facility Breitscheidstraße and Vocational Training Campus Stuttgart.

We also traveled around Croatia. On May 20, we participated in the 17th Fair of Associations and Institutions, which took place as part of the “Croatian Volunteers” event on the Sisak promenade next to Kupa. The Fair was organized by the City of Sisak as part of the European project EPIC – European Platform of Integrating Cities. Our volunteer Nagham Oufan prepared a short presentation about Syria and its customs for interested passers-by and then entertained them with an interesting quiz about the same country. Also, the acting duo from the Medley Theater, Ena-Sanan Hdagh and Marin Bukvić, contributed to the program of the Fair, performing their play for children called “The beauty of our diversity”. In addition to the sun and blooming nature, the youngest could enjoy watching the adventures of two friends, Stork and Nightingale, on their long journey from Africa to Europe. Using elements of different cultures, languages ​​and dances, this play teaches children about tolerance, acceptance, friendship, helping and peace. After the end of the Fair, we all refreshed ourselves taking lunch together at Panonija hotel.

Furthermore, on May 23, our team participated in the UNHCR conference “The best practice of empowering and employing refugees: the example of IKEA in Croatia”, where our director f. Stanko Perica was also a guest. The theme of the conference was informing and encouraging other employers to employ and integrate refugees into their work environment, following the example of IKEA in Croatia, and highlighting the importance of partnerships for the economic empowerment of refugees. Together we can do more.

In addition to guest appearances, on May 25, the head of our office, Ana Marčinko, attended a round table on the topic “Better system, better respect for human rights”, which included a presentation of research conducted with people on the move in Rijeka and Zagreb about knowing their own rights to access international protection in the Republic of Croatia. The event took place in the premises of the House of Europe, and apart from Ana, the guests of the round table were: Marija Vujeva from the association Borders:none, Snježana Stanić from the Office of the Ombudswoman and Marijana Hameršak from the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore. The participants of the round table agreed that there is still a lot to do for progress in the matter of advocating the rights of refugees and that we need to unite and work together with people in transit.

And for the end – something relaxing. There was a great atmosphere one Wednesday in May at the restaurant Bistro Ukrainian cuisine, where our Natalija and s. Meri organized an intercultural meeting for women. About twenty women gathered and, along with an interesting program, enjoyed Middle Eastern and Ukrainian cuisine. Our guests had the opportunity to try their hand at making Ukrainian stuffed dumplings – vareniki, and show their dancing skills at a bachata, Ukrainian and African dance workshop. The beauty of cultural diversity