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From Wroclaw with Love: Sharing experience of empowering migrant women

Bianca Manacorda

Take four countries and a project for female migrants’ empowerment. Sounds like a joke? It’s not! For the Fatima Project that is everyday reality. In fact the project aims at creating safe and welcoming learning spaces for women migrants in Poland, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom!  

How do we make it work? Continuous learning, support and coordination among partners are some of the key ingredients to the successful delivery of language learning classes across all the four different localities where the project takes place. Communication is crucial and a countless number of emails and phone calls are exchanged every week among members of the partner organisations. But nothing beats the value of a face to face meeting. For this reason on the 24th of November the teams from the Wonder Foundation, the Baytree Centre, Slovenia and Spain took a plane to Wroclaw, Poland.   

Meeting with representatives of Senara (Spain), Sursum (Slovenia), Panorama (Poland) and Baytree Centre (UK) was the occasion to discuss the successes and challenges of project implementation in each context. Among reports from each organisation, traditional Polish food and a meeting with the participants of the Fatima Project in Poland, many crucial themes emerged. For example, the importance of succeeding to include more isolated communities in the project, such as the female Chinese community in Madrid; the discrepancy between knowing the grammar and a language enough to satisfy subsistence needs on one side and being actually able to overcome language barriers and feel welcomed and empowered on the other.  

“when you learn a language the fear goes away” 

Highlighting the main obstacles helps build a support and help network among the partners, each with their own experience and area of expertise. Advice and best practice on budgeting and dissemination were shared, together with many practical examples on social activities that can be organised in order to bring the learning process beyond the physical space of the classroom. We talked about mentoring and involving the students in volunteering opportunities. 

The main take-aways? First of all, in the words of one of the participants of the Fatima Project in Poland, “when you learn a language the fear goes away”. The meeting highlighted the positive ways in which beneficiaries have reacted to the project so far. This gives us the strength and motivation to do a better job each and every day. 

Second, everything is context specific! The social and economic conditions of the hosting environment are important variables to take into consideration when evaluating the progress of integration processes. For this reason the midterm meeting and all those that will follow, together with any further occasion for confrontation and collaboration, are pivotal to the successful delivery of the project.  

The Fatima Project has to represent a continuous learning process not only for the students, but for the partner organisations as well. We find out about other ways of integrating people, creative methods of language teaching, obstacles that we would have not thought of in our own context and strengths we did not know we had!  

Thank you to all our partners for this beautiful learning opportunity! See you at the next meeting!