Alternativi International hosted a job shadowing activity, part of the KA2 project Inclusion Labs, between 21 and 28 of April 2023. The job shadowers were coming from the coordinating organization from Finland/represented by the president Mr. Hasan Habib/, Georgia/ represented by the Inclusion Labs main activity coordinator Mrs Ana Katsiashvili / and from The Netherlands/ represented by Marik de Koning coordinator and trainer in Inclusion labs/. The program of the job shadowing consisted of several important elements:
-visiting Inclusion Labs, established in the region of Bansko/Razlog and observing the used methodology, tools, approaches. The workshops implemented with the youngsters were focused on media, media content, social medias for youth activism
-official meetings with relevant stakeholders on topics of migration-UNHCR office in Bulgaria, Bulgarian Council on Migrants and Refugees, Bulgarian Red Cross-refugee department, Blue point/emergency reception center for Ukrainian refugees in Sofia/, CVS Bulgaria/one of the main and most active NGOs working on national level with migrant and refugee youth.
-attending the 2 mobility of youth workers activities, organized by Alternativi International at the same time
During the job shadowing program in Bulgaria, the participants gained a comprehensive understanding of the context surrounding migrants and refugees in the country. They delved into several aspects, including the jurisdiction system, national policies, and strategies related to the settling and integration of migrants and refugees, the role of NGOs, the challenges they face,etc. The concrete results achieved in this regard are as follows:
- Understanding the Context: Through their interactions with organizations such as the UNHCR Office Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Council on Migrants and Refugees, the job shadowers developed a deep understanding of the challenges faced by migrants and refugees in Bulgaria. They learned about the complexities of the migration system, including legal procedures, asylum application processes, and the existing support mechanisms for newcomers.
- Jurisdiction System: By engaging with relevant stakeholders, the job shadowers familiarized themselves with the jurisdiction system in Bulgaria concerning migrants and refugees. They gained insights into the legal framework governing migration, including laws, regulations, and administrative procedures. Understanding the jurisdiction system allowed them to comprehend the rights and entitlements of migrants and refugees and the mechanisms available for seeking protection and support.
- National Policies and Strategies: The job shadowers learned about the national policies and strategies that Bulgaria has in place for the settlement and integration of migrants and refugees. They gained knowledge of the government’s approaches to address the challenges and promote social cohesion. This understanding enabled them to assess the effectiveness of existing policies and identify areas for improvement.
- Challenges Faced by NGOs: Through direct engagement with NGOs working with migrants and refugees, the job shadowers became aware of the significant difficulties faced by these organizations. They learned about the lack of funding and resources, which often hindered their ability to provide adequate support and assistance. The participants witnessed the immense dedication and commitment of NGOs despite the challenging circumstances and recognized the need for sustained support to enhance their impact.
- Challenges Faced by Refugees and Migrants in Bulgaria: The job shadowers interacted with refugees and migrants, hearing firsthand accounts of the challenges they face. They became aware of the difficulties related to access to basic services, employment opportunities, language barriers, and social integration. They learned about the complex factors contributing to these challenges, including the lack of clear working policies, limited political will, and societal prejudices.
- Implementation of Inclusion Labs: The job shadowers had the opportunity to witness the implementation of Inclusion Labs on local level, conducted by Alternativi International. They observed the practical aspects of this initiative, such as workshops, activities, and projects aimed at promoting social inclusion, empowering migrant youth, and fostering their active participation in society. By seeing the program in action, the participants gained insights into the methodologies and tools used to address the specific needs and challenges of migrant youth.
- Acquiring New Youth Work Methodologies and Tools: The mobility programs organized by Alternativi International exposed the job shadowers to new youth work methodologies, tools, and approaches. They participated in training sessions, workshops, and interactive activities focused on digital activism, human rights activism, and other relevant topics. This exposure equipped them with practical skills, theoretical knowledge, and resources to enhance their own youth work practices and expand their repertoire of approaches when working with migrant and refugee youth.
- Networking Opportunities: The job shadowers had the chance to connect and network with professionals and practitioners in the field of youth work, migration, and refugee support, digital activism. Through these interactions, they expanded their professional networks and established connections with individuals and organizations involved in similar work. These connections can foster future collaborations, exchange of knowledge, and sharing of best practices.
- Enhanced Cultural Competence: By engaging with diverse stakeholders and participating in activities focused on migrant and refugee youth, the job shadowers developed a heightened cultural competence. They gained a deeper understanding of the challenges, experiences, and aspirations of young people with migrant backgrounds. This increased cultural sensitivity and awareness will enable the participants to better address the needs of migrant youth in their own work and contribute to creating more inclusive and supportive environments.
- During the job shadowing program, the participants had the opportunity to visit Blue Point, an emergency reception center specifically established for Ukrainian refugees. This visit allowed them to witness firsthand the facilities, assistance, and services provided to Ukrainian refugees affected by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Overall, the job shadowing program provided concrete results in terms of understanding the approaches, tools, and methods used by organizations working with migrant and refugee youth. The participants acquired new youth work methodologies, tools, and approaches through the mobility programs and gained valuable networking opportunities. Additionally, the experience enhanced their cultural competence, enabling them to better support and advocate for the needs of migrant and refugee youth in their respective contexts.
By gaining these concrete results, the job shadowers obtained a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted issues surrounding migrants and refugees in Bulgaria. This knowledge equipped them to advocate for the rights and well-being of this vulnerable population, identify areas for improvement in policies and strategies, and contribute to positive change by raising awareness about the challenges faced by NGOs, refugees, and migrants.