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Refugees and local children in Moldova learn about getting involved in their communities

Young Advocates

Refugees and local children in Moldova learn about getting involved in their communities

Over one weekend in March, Lumos Moldova hosted a three-day event all about civil activism for a group of young refugees from Ukraine and children from their host families in Moldova.

The weekend aimed to encourage young people aged 12-17 to learn about how to get involved in their communities, how to identify problems and how to engage in advocacy activities to make a difference. There were also plenty of lessons to be learned about team building, self-motivation and trust as the young people took part in a number of activities where they shared their personal experiences and planned their own community initiatives.

Two former Lumos self-advocates helped to facilitate the activities over the weekend, which began with a dedicated training session on social activism and advocacy delivered by a representative of the European Democracy Youth Network. Young people learned how to identify a problem they would like to tackle in their communities, how to form clear objectives, and how to plan activities that will help them achieve them.

One 15-year-old participant said: “I’ve lived with my family in Italy, in Hungary… but there weren’t any such activities organised for young refugees there.”

Over the weekend, the young people also had the chance to meet people who shared their experiences of finding the self-motivation to overcome difficult situations, including a professional sportsman who spoke about how his determination helped him through a period of poor health, and a Ukrainian refugee who had found work with a local organisation. Her words encouraged and inspired the young people at the event:

“You are at the age when you have to use every opportunity to learn something new, to assimilate all kinds of information,” she said. “You never know which of these opportunities will help you in later life. Be proactive, take the initiative and do what you can, regardless of where you are – whether that is in a small village or in a big city, in Moldova or another country. And when the time comes to return to Ukraine, you will arrive there prepared and ready to contribute to the rebuilding of our country.”

With such motivation behind them, the young people were tasked with working on projects to present on the last day. The majority of the young people decided to tackle ecology issues in their communities, while another project took on the issue of homelessness. These projects were presented to the weekend’s other participants, as well as to special guests from the Parliament of Moldova and UNHCR. There was also a very lively discussion about the situation of young refugees, the support they receive, and their participation in their new communities.

We asked some of the participants what they enjoyed about the weekend’s various activities. They enthused about the exercises and games they’d participated in to get to know each other and to work as teams, as well as learning about getting involved in their communities in a way that was fun.

“We’ve learned to plan, to be proactive, to communicate better, to make every moment count and to access all available resources when setting and achieving our goals.”

The weekend might be over, but the young people left with the drive to continue developing their projects, and to enlist their peers in their implementation. Lumos is committed to providing the necessary support to help them finalise and submit their final projects to the UNHCR’s small grants programme.

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