Mosaico: Action for refugees
Submitted by: Yagoub Kibeida, Executive Director
Email: [email protected]
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Introduction to the project
The project started in 2007. Mosaico is an ongoing initiative for the empowerment of refugees and asylum seekers fostering refugee active participation and self-reliance.
Mosaico is an NGO led by refugees. It is a non-profit organization founded in 2007 in Turin by a group of refugees coming from different countries and with different backgrounds. It aim is to provide a support platform for refugees and their families in their integration path, adopting a multi-stakeholder approach and involving local authorities. Through public conferences, seminars and cultural events, Mosaico further enhances the knowledge of migration and asylum in the host community.
Since its foundation, Mosaico has been running in Turin a unique experience: a weekly information desk addressed to refugees and managed by the refugees themselves. Furthermore, every year, in occasion of the World Refugee Day, the association organises a public event in Turin, involving local authorities and other civil society organisations, providing also a perspective on the European dimension (an example is the UNHCR-ECRE Joint Conference organised by Mosaico at the Egyptian Museum).
Furthermore, Mosaico leads mutual support groups for refugee women, and a project providing guidance and assistance to refugee university students, jointly with the University of Turin and other relevant actors. In 2018 Mosaico became an implementing partner of UNHCR under the “PartecipAzione” programme and through this new project (O.A.S.I.: guidance, listening, support and integration) has been extending its support desk activities, addressing the people on the move at the main railway station in town.
Mosaico is an active member of ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles), and the Executive Director of Mosaico, Yagoub Kibeida, has recently joined the board of ECRE as the representative for the Mediterranean region.
- Active participation
- Peer-to-peer approach towards integration and social inclusion
Main sources of funding include:
- 8X1000 Chiesa Valdese
- Open Society Foundations
- AMIF funds
- Compagnia di San Paolo bank foundation.
Most of the activities are carried out relying on Mosaico’s refugee volunteers network, that operates on peer-to-peer basis.
Mosaico’s offices are hosted by Casa del Quartiere di San Salvario, a multicultural venue hosting several associations active in town and supported by the Municipality of Turin.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Our overall objective is changing the image and providing a new narrative of refugees as persons that contribute in the development of host communities, while supporting protection capacities and networks, building upon voluntary work and peer-to-peer mechanisms. This good practice promotes refugee self-reliance, refugee participation and social cohesion through the roll-out of following activities:
- Mosaico runs various projects with a people-centred approach. One of these projects is “Support Refugee Students” financed by 8X1000 Waldensian Church (https://www.ottopermillevaldese.org/), in which Mosaico provides orientation, eases access to education by supporting the recognition of previous qualifications, provides language courses, housing and physiological counselling, and offers material support as books, PCs and other material. The project is not conceived as just an opportunity for providing scholarships but as a holistic, multidisciplinary mechanism where all partners play a crucial role in making the newly arrived student in the best position to fulfill his/her educational aspirations.
- Another support group project, called “We are not Alone”, is dedicated to women and provides a safe space for refugee women to meet and share their problems, receive reliable information and guidance and thus helps to empower them.
- Project “OASI on the street” is a multi-doorway approach implemented by the association Mosaico in order to provide socio-legal orientation, referral and support to people in transit and/or in marginalized situations. The rationale behind Oasis is pivotal, in a critical moment where fragmented and not-accurate information might result into discontinuation of integration paths and not-informed decisions Mosaico believes that by attentively listening to individual cases, jointly devising personalized solutions, and connecting to the appropriate institutions, lives can be saved, border-ghettos prevented, and dignity restored. Thanks to the participation to PartecipAzione UNHCR programme in October 2018, Mosaico launched “OASI Porta Nuova”, which provides orientation at the Porta Nuova Turin main train station. Based on the overwhelming results in terms of capacity to early identify protection needs and response, OASI is now integrated into the Mosaico’s help-desk, reaching out to other areas, and consolidating its team of mediators.
- “OASI on the street” seeks to operate in synergy with the services available in town, strengthening referral mechanism and multi-stakeholder response.
- To give a different connotation to the phenomenon of migration and asylum remains at the core of Mosaico‘s intervention: not as a burden, but as an opportunity to work together towards a more harmonious and culturally rich coexistence
In line with its core multi-stakeholder approach, Mosaico’s projects are implemented in partnership and collaboration with a series of actors: from community leaders to institutions, decision-making bodies and other associations. This protection network includes:
- UNIRE (Unione Nazionale Italiana per i Rifugiati e gli Esuli)
- RISE (Refugees Ideas and Solution for Europe)
- Lawyers (ASGI)
- Psychologists (Frantz Fanon Association)
- IRES Piemonte (public regional research institute)
- University of Turin
- Municipality of Turin
- Prefecture of Turin
- Chiesa Valdese
- Other local NGOs
- Bank and corporate foundations
Challenges and how they were overcome
- Voluntary nature of the Association: most of our teamwork is based on volunteers. It is difficult to enlarge the association involving other refugee volunteers who are as committed as we are. Not because they do not care, but because they have other urgent priorities and are struggling to survive.
- Very volatile situation: the activities can suffer from many ups-and-downs, depending on availability of volunteers as well as of beneficiaries who may decide to move to other areas seeking for better integration prospects.
- Financial support: discontinuity of resources to guarantee sustainability.
- Media and political racism: the public debates around refugee issues is dominated by alarmist tones where not by xenophobia and racism. Under these circumstances, awareness raising campaigns and info provision are critical to struggle against fake news and to give the debate a balanced prospective, putting the affected population at its centre.
How they were overcome:
- These challenges were overcome by doing more and making a difference. By showing the good examples already in place, actively participating to for decision-making processes, making refugees’ voices heard, and strengthening advocacy and awareness raising
Results of the Good Practice
Areas in which Mosaico is involved in and making an impact:
- Awareness raising and information provision addressing refugees and local communities on refugee issues and asylum rights (Help desk, managed by the refugees themselves)
- Legal orientation and counselling especially in cases of detention and deprivation of liberty, effectively collaborating with other actors and specialized lawyers (ASGI)
- Advocacy at regional, national and EU levels, being part of European and UN networks promoting inclusion (e.g. ECRE), influencing asylum policy, fostering participation by bringing refugees’ voice to decision making platforms as well as strengthening networks among refugees’ in Italy and EU.
- Empowerment of refugee students in partnership with University of Turin, by facilitating the access to higher education through the provision of support regarding the recognition of certificates, the provision of language courses, housing opportunities and material assistance
- Promotion of active citizenship through cultural initiatives, i.e. “rete dei musei di Torino” (partner of the “Museum network of Turin”), cultural outings with both locals and refugees, mixed rap group etc.
- Promotion of active participation of refugees and spaces for exchange in international environments and effective building of refugee networks.
- Implement Life Coaching projects for refugees
- Reinforce our networking efforts with refugee-led organizations both at national level - in the frame of UNIRE (Unione Nazionale Italiana per i Rifugiati e gli Esuli) network - and at European Level with RISE (Refugees Ideas and Solution for Europe)