Connecting local responses around the world
In Utrecht, in the center of the Netherlands, we came together to learn about SALT as a strengths-based approach to assist refugees in making a new home, building new networks etc. More importantly, we came together to learn from each other about diverse perspectives on inclusion of refugees in Dutch society.
Only 6 out of the 20+ participants are born in the Netherlands in a Dutch family. The rest of the group consisted of (former) refugees from Eritrea, Syria, Iraq, Kosovo, Burkina Fasso, and migrants (or people from migrant descent) from Italy, Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia and Ireland. The diversity within this group allowed us to learn from each other about the strengths people build as a result of flight and migration.
The richness in the exchange was powerful. There were several moments that we were very quiet, and got goosebumps when listening to stories. Like when Marlou shared her experience with the older persons in Uganda, in 2011, who closed their eyes to dream about ageing with dignity. When she recalled her memories, it was as if the older persons entered the room.... thank you so much, Marlou. It is through your heart-felt, open-hearted sharing that we were all impressed by the power of a shared dream.
Another powerful moment was when we talked about the symbol of a camp fire. For me and others who grew up in countries in a state of peace, fire reminds us of motivation, passion and the spark of inspiration. For a Syrian man, the same symbol of a camp fire brought up images of war.....
This is our dream:
"We believe in the strengths of people. Using our hearts and hands, our inspiration is taking shape. We allow for surprises and unexpected situations, giving space and time for our creations to emerge. When we collaborate, we welcome freedom of expression of the individual. We support each other in learning-by-doing, allowing for trial-and-error. We build trust by being sincere and fair.This is a path of personal growth for all involved. "
Thank you to Marlou and all participants. It was a blessing to meet you all. Marlou and I are looking forward to our continueing journey with this awesome group so that we can learn even more from each other about what it means to make a new home in a foreign country.
To be continued....