What We Do
Programme for the Social Inclusion of People Seeking Refuge in Europe
The sudden and large-scale arrival of refugees in Europe has had a pronounced effect on interreligious and intercultural relations, with questions and implications for social cohesion within the concept of European identities. A polarisation of narratives presents formidable cultural and religious divides. While there are many quality integration programmes being carried out by various government, religious and nonprofit groups, a KAICIID needs assessment carried out in 2016 revealed a perception of gaps in the existing support systems for the pro-tection and integration of women in particular. Once in Europe, women can be particularly vulnerable to isolation and invisibility. These women should be encouraged and supported to understand and make full use of educational and employment opportunities in Europe. Not only do women and girls offer tremendous potential for host communities, they also play a central role in the long-term integration of their families.
Project “Integration through Dialogue“ seeks to develop the capacity of women with migrant back-grounds to serve as dialogue facilitators. It also focuses on women and girls seeking refuge to approach their integration proactively and dialogically. In 2017 the team began facilitating dialogue for asylum seekers and recognized refugees, either through accommodation centres operated by Red Cross and Caritas, or by combining the dialogues with German language classes. To date, the pilot project has reached over 80 individuals. This project is being piloted in Vienna, Austria.
The second pillar supports the capacity of host communities to adapt to the needs of newcomers. KAICIID plans initially to focus on the interreligious education of young people seeking refuge. The knowledge, understanding and experience that young people have of their own and other religious traditions affects the formation of religious identity, their sense of otherness, inclusion and exclusion. This programme component seeks to enhance communication and coordination between policymakers, religious communities and faith-based organizations to strengthen interreligious education and dialogue among young people in Europe.
• Phase 1 completed in March 2017, comprised the recruitment and initial training and oritentation of a team of women dialogue facilitators. All are Austrian citizens with migrant back-grounds who speak either Arabic, Farsi/Dari or Pashtun as a mother tongue, and who have experience working with people seeking refuge.
• Phase 2, which took place from April to September 2017, involved the facilitators leading a series of dialogue sessions among groups of people seeking refuge. A number of integration-related themes are covered in the course of each dialogue series, and each series benefits a group of around 10-25 asylum-seekers or recognized refugees.
• A cooperative project between Vienna-based NGO Human Relief and KAICIID was initiated in mid-2007 involving a discussion of how the Centre could collaborate with Human Relief’s German language classes for women seeking refuge.
• Phase 3 began in September 2017. During this phase, the facilitators design and implement mini-projects that support dialogical interactions between newcomers and members of host communities, based on their learning throughout the project period. Finally a report will be drafted and distributed to Austrian institutions and service providers to share lessons learned and recommendations regarding the gender responsiveness and cultural sensitivity of programming for people seeking refuge.
In collaboration with the European Commission, an experts workshop, “Educating to Understand the Other: Faith-Based Support for Young People Seeking Refuge,”is planned for late 2017. The workshop will bring together faith-based grassroots actors, policymakers and other experts, and will result in programmatic and policy recommendations for bridging the gaps in education and interreligious dialogue that hinder young people in Europe from understanding and accepting the religious and cultural Other.
Who are the dialogue facilitators?
In 2017, the Integration through Dialogue project is being piloted in Vienna, Austria with a team of four dialogue facilitators. All are Austrian citizens with migrant backgrounds, hailing from Syria or Afghanistan. KAICIID is excited to work with these great women, all of who have found ways to combine their Austrian identity with their heritage, and who want to encourage newcomers to find a path to integration that works for them.
Ruham Al-Bezra migrated to Austria after completing her studies in Syria, and holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology and has a background in philological and cultural studies in English and American Literature. She has completed a diploma programme in integration coaching and intercultural competence in Vienna, and has volunteered by teaching integration-related courses for refugees. She has also served as an interpreter for several Austrian municipal authorities and schools. Ruham has spent five years with International Human Relief in Vienna as a coach and trainer for refugees from Arab-region conflict areas.
Born and raised in Austria, Nadine Kelani is currently in her last year of her Bachelor studies in spatial planning at the Technical University in Vienna. She has worked as an Arabic interpreter in Caritas’ Asylum Centre, and engaged in voluntary work with refugees. She is also a board member of the student society “Multicultural Society in Austria.”
Born and raised in Afghanistan, Forouzan Noyan has been living in Vienna for ten years. As a mother of two children, she completed her education 2012 in Vienna as a childcare worker and has been active in this profession since early 2015. For the past eight years she has also been working on a voluntary basis for the Islamic centre in Vienna helping asylum seekers find their way through administrative channels in Austria.