Believe, the wife of Junior and the mother of Mirabel found refuge in Parma, Italy. Both, Believe and Junior came to Italy from Nigeria. They left their homes as very fresh adults with a vision to leave all their bad memories behind and find a place where their kids can grow up in a stable society.need translation with this page?
In Italy, they met open-minded people but to find a job without speaking the language was not possible in the beginning. Therefore, both of them subscribed to a language school and their journey is finally coming to a happy end in Parma. There, the city authorities, in cooperation with the Centre for Immigration, Asylum and International Cooperation, have tested a new initiative for building better relationships between locals and foreign citizens as part of the Interreg cooperation project SIforREF.
Junior, Believe, and their children Mirabele and Kester live in a flat that the city authorities provided to them for free. In return they take over social caretaking activities in the neighborhood and offer assistance especially to elderly people. Both sides benefit from this: local citizens come into contact with refugees, dispel prejudices against them and can count on effective support in their neighborhood; and on the other hand, refugees build up social networks and expand their opportunities for successful socio-economic integration.
“I feel accepted in the community,” Believe says and adds that “taking care of others means you care about them and you love them too. This is what we are trying to do in our neighborhood.” Their plan for the future is to stay in Italy, as “staying here means staying happy” she concludes.
Further innovative approaches on refugee integration are tested by the project partners in other four central European cities: Vienna, Ljubljana, Bologna and Berlin. Their transnational collection of knowledge and tested solution are available for free to other regions that are facing similar challenges, which is especially valuable and helpful today, when the war in Ukraine forces many people to flee their homes and to find a secure and stable place to stay.
For more information about the project’s achievements for refugee integration, check their website at www.interreg-central.eu/siforref.
In addition, the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Programme put together many more tools and helpful initiatives from all its funded projects that work on helping cities and regions to better welcome refugees and migrants. These free and transferrable solutions can be found at www.interreg-central/refugeesupport