“I was lucky when I came to Austria, because I found Austrian friends, who helped me and provided me with a lot of information. But not everyone has this chance”, says Javad, a young refugee from Afghanistan. He is one of 19 youth peers, who have been recruited by the Main Urban Authority to be trained as mentors for other young refugees. “I want to pass on the humanity I experienced by helping other refugees with my knowledge”, Javad explains. That’s why the young Afghan wanted to get involved with the mentoring program, which started in April for youth and female refugees with a medical background.
Answers and orientation
Many young refugees lack relevant information when they arrive in Austria. Therefore, within this mentoring program, workshops covering topics such as the asylum system in Austria as well as subjects like gender, racism, social skills and communications shall give answers to basic questions and provide orientation for their daily life in Vienna. The training modules are being organized in cooperation with Viennese institutions with experience in the field of integration. For example the Democracy Centre Vienna recently hosted an interactive workshop motivating all participants to discuss democracy, its basic principles and the importance of human rights for an open society.
Refugees for refugees
The young refugees between 16 and 21 come from Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Some of them catch up on their compulsory education, while others are visiting the “Youth College” in Vienna. The refugee peers come from different backgrounds, have spent different time periods in Vienna, but regarding the question why they became part of the mentoring program, the answer is always the same: “I want to help.” That’s Ayesha motivation as well. She is 18, comes from Afghanistan and lives in Austria since 2015. The young girl wants to pass on her knowledge to others in need of help: “I noticed that my friends lack a lot of information. So that’s why I would like to pass on the knowledge I learn in this training”, Ayesha explains. Parallel to the youth peer-training, a training for peer experts with focus on motherhood and pregnancy is in progress: 13 female refugees with various medical backgrounds are being trained and get familiarized with the healthcare services in Vienna in order to become future mentors for pregnant women and mothers of new-born babies.
By the end of June, all peers will be finishing their training. On the 1st of July, the Executive City Councillors Jürgen Czernohorszky (Education, Integration, Youth, Personnel) and Sandra Frauenberger (Social Affairs, Public Health, Women's Issues) will hand over the peer-certificates in an official event at the Vienna city hall. From this day on - with profound and newly acquired knowledge of how to master complex integration-processes - the peers will support other refugees as mentors and act as CORE “role-models” for an integrative society.
Author: CORE Project Team