We are building a home together – March in JRS

16 April 2024

March at JRS started with the visit of Alberto Ares, SJ, the director of the European office of Jesuit Services for Refugees. Throughout the day spent in SOL integration center, Alberto Ares had the opportunity to meet our employees, volunteers and beneficiaries, as well as to taste their traditional dishes, hear their testimonies, view handcrafts of our beneficiaries from creative workshops, and get to know more about the work of JRS in Croatia. 

March is also a month in which we proudly host one of the most beautiful days of the year, Women’s Day. As it grows into our traditional event, in our area we celebrate Women’s Day with song, dance and good company. Around sixty women participated this year. During the workshops, they had the opportunity to share their achievements with others, but also to be supportive in the difficulties they face together.  

With the traditional food of Arab countries, it was an occasion for them to get to know each other and get closer together, regardless of difference in language and culture, as well as to connect to the local community. In one of the rooms conversations continued, on the other side, in the living room of the Integration Center “SOL”, Arabic and African dances were taught, with accompanying music. 

That Zagreb is embracing and increasingly becoming a city open to refugees is confirmed by newly presented mural, painted this month in the city center.  

UNHCR Croatia, the Festival of Tolerance and the City of Zagreb jointly installed in the main street of Zagreb by artist Boris Baret, who carries the message of HOPE. His goal is not only to beautify the neighborhood was set up, to raise awareness about refugees, but also to thank the citizens of Zagreb for solidarity with people forced to leave their homes which are safety and protection found in that city. It is a message of welcome to all new fellow citizens. UNHCR Croatia, the Festival of Tolerance and the Jesuit Service for Refugees for several years jointly carry out the education of primary and secondary school students on the integration of refugees, both in the education system and in Croatian society as a whole. It has been held since 2018., 28 programs with the participation of over 7,000 students from all counties in Croatia. 

In the last four years, the SOL Integration Center has conducted nine Croatian language courses from levels A1 to B1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (ZEROJ). A total of 73 participants completed the course, and most of them, thanks to the preparatory courses from the Jesuit Refugee Service, they obtained the right to a certified diploma in various foreign language schools in Croatia. The course participants came from various parts of the world such as Iraq, Eritrea, Congo, Palestine, Philippines, Turkey, Russia, Morocco, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Nigeria, Syria, Iran and Burundi. In July 2022, groups of forcibly displaced people joined, and since then seven groups of 10-12 rooms have been enrolled. Most of the participants are adults, while only two groups consist of teenagers. In March 2023 we started one more group of level A1. 

Intercultural meetings are part of our everyday life, even in kindergarten, children meet people from other cultures, then through further education, and today’s business is unimaginable without intercultural meetings and multinational contacts. Migrations are a challenge, but so is the opportunity to learn new things, getting to know each other and so on. Therefore, meetings for different ages are held in out Center on a regular basis.