Creating a community in Zagreb by working & thinking with and through refugees & migrants to create a safe space for the re-imagination of society and integration for Croatians, new and old – made possible by a financially self-sufficient gastronomic framework, which lends its brushes and its interior to the ones who will empower themselves in it.
One Page Summary
This solution addresses the challenge in Zagreb, Croatia, named “access to information for integration of migrants”, by Ms Sara Kekus from the Centre of Peace Studies (“CMS”).
Through multiple conversations with Sara, we identified a plethora of challenges that migrants and especially refugees face in Zagreb.
From the viewpoint of CMS, the challenge lies in the difficulty to reach the target group (“TG”) , both migrants and refugees. Getting in touch with them, staying in touch, spreading information, building a two way infrastructure to communicate is tough because there is no formal nor other wide-spread & effective communication method with a high reach.
The underlying problem is that especially refugees are not aware of their own rights, which makes them often a target for unjust treatment by government. This includes scenarios when newomers want to make use of government systems, and are declined service. Providing info, training and support in order for this TG to make integration possible at all, building trust and engaging them structurally is over the long-term is key.
Viewpoint of TG in Zagreb:
-Lack of a safe space and the conditions to create a secure environment for refugees especially
-Strong necessity for a need based, individual approach with regards to providing services to refugees & migrants (different people, different cultures, different needs)
-Continuous & ongoing community activities instead of one-time events
- activities to connect each other
Outside general viewpoint:
It is clear from both sides that especially the Croatian government is inexperienced in supporting and integrating refugees and migrants inclusively. This is from the lack of contact that Croatians have with migrants and refugees on all levels. Movements towards nationalism and right-wing activities in a socio-cultural & political dimension are visible throughout Europe stemming from xenophobia.
Even if there is sufficient contact, coming from NGO’s and grassroots initiatives, there is also a lack to develop services, solutions with & through refugees, instead of for them. Refugees especially are labelled as one group, instead of treated as an diverse individuals, who are crucially needed to develop, execute and disseminate services for their peers but also society as a whole. This is very similar to our own situation in the Netherlands.
There is a strong need to coordinate efforts for integration on all levels, between tiny movements up to large-scale NGO’s and government initiatives in order to reduce the number of overlapping initiatives, increasing effect of efforts made and decreasing confusion for the target group. In addition, the lack of a safe space to coordinate these efforts from or to provide services to the target group make this challenge all the more difficult.
The bistro works as a safe space for intercultural, inter-organizational development and execution of services made through and with refugees & migrants in Zagreb.
Safe Space & Coord.
Our own homes can become a major psychological barrier and enforce isolation. Every other step towards emancipation becomes twice as heavy. Since there is a major lack of a physical space wherein the TG feels safe and can be empowered (our empower themselves) this bistro offers the open space to do so. By starting this bistro up with the TG, every individual will be able to determine how it will be designed, painted and shapes, with the support of professionals. This creates a strong team from the beginning on and gives the TG ownership and responsibility.
The Maleć bistro will also serve as a centre for all the NGO’s, grassroots initiatives and all other networks to offer their services from. F.i., language lessons can be given twice a week from a bright, informal, beautiful and colourful bistro, which has been created by the people who receive the lessons – instead of grey office buildings with a tense or business like atmosphere. This is also a way to decrease needs for resources between integration networks for the TG. This will reinforce solidarity and provide integral approach with and through the TG towards the vision of an inclusive society.
The actors and people needed to implement this solution is CMS and everyone in their network. Since this solution takes a community-approach to set up, involvement from the community (including the TG) is impossible to miss. Thus, lots of time and getting everyone in to start-up the bistro is crucial.
Desk research & contact with CMS shows no competitors.
Only parts of solution have been tried and tested by local partners of this organization. A strength: financial self-sufficiency & independence from macro-environmental forces. Weakness: solution has never been done in Croatia and requires strong commitment on all levels from CMS and its networks.