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Colleagues from the organization Save the Children from Bosnia and Herzegovina on a study visit to Atina
Within the study visit that lasted from March 2 to March 4, 2022, three colleagues from the organization Save the Children from Bosnia and Herzegovina - Dalila Midžić, Melisa Grahić, and Emina Mešić - visited Atina’s team in Belgrade to exchange challenges and promising practices within the “Pippi of Today” project. Atina and Save the Children have been working for years to improve the position of "girls on the move", particularly by providing direct assistance and support tailored to the needs of this vulnerable group.
Through the "Pippi of Today" project, extensive activities are being carried out to provide comprehensive support to these girls, aimed at exercising their rights, as well as advocacy activities with a focus on improving their position. The project is supported by the Swedish Save the Children and relies on the ideas proclaimed by the most famous literary heroine of the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren - Pippi Longstocking. The study visit was organized with the aim of exchanging experiences and improving the knowledge and practices implemented in both countries.
At the very beginning of the visit, the activities of the "Pippi of Today" project were presented, as well as the identified challenges, which were discussed through a wider corpus of exchange of experiences and consultations between the Save the Children and Atina’s teams. The Save the Children team bases its experience on extensive work with "girls on the move" in the cities of Bihać and Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the cantons in which they are located. Also, Save the Children team had the opportunity to implement "Pippi of Today" in the previous period, and to design activities aimed at empowering these girls, so they can take various actions tailored to them.
Part of the visit was dedicated to the presentation of activities currently carried out with girls from the refugee and migrant population, and in that regard, colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina pointed out examples of good practice of participation and integration of girls on the move in the local community. Colleagues from Bosnia spoke about the Advisory Body, which consists of "girls on the move", who will participate in planning future activities in reception centers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the idea of developing the advocacy potential of this group. Another example of good practice was the Career Day organized by Save the Children in Tuzla, which enabled refugee children to visit numerous institutions, organizations, factories and business premises, and get acquainted with various professional occupations.
Furthermore, during this visit, the situation on the ground was discussed as well, and the comparative practice of working with "girls on the move" in the refugee and migrant population was highlighted, with the aim of informing the teams about resources, trends and challenges related to girls' movements.
Colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina were introduced to the activities carried out by the organization Atina within the project "Pippi of Today", as well as the approach to working with women and girls with the experience of gender-based violence. Within this session, they discussed the challenges on the ground, different trends in the two countries when it comes to refugees’ stay, and underlined the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation.
At the end of the first day of the visit, they talked about the next steps within the project, as well as the possibility of stronger networking and better cooperation in cases of girls on the move in the refugee and migrant population.
The conclusions of the first day of the visit were that additional efforts need to be made in order to network support systems operating at the interstate level, and raise the visibility of activities and overall work of organizations in home countries, while providing survivors, and persons at risk, of violence necessary information and support in all countries along the route.
The next, second day of the visit, colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with Atina’s team, had the opportunity to visit the asylum center in Krnjača and attend a workshop with women and girls from the refugee population accommodated there. In the conversation with women and girls, they had the opportunity to present their activities, and to hear more about the experience of women and girls refugees and migrants related to their stay in Serbia, their view on services and available information, and wishes and plans for the future. The workshop was assessed as highly successful and useful for the migrant women themselves as well as for both organizations working in the field.
Workshop at the Asylum Center in Krnjača
After returning from the Asylum Center in Krnjača, colleagues from BiH had the opportunity to become acquainted with the work of other organizations that actively provide support to refugees and migrants in the Republic of Serbia, and present their own work as well. This meeting was a work lunch organized at NGO Atina’s social enterprise Bagel Bejgl Shop. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Crisis Response and Policy Center (CRPC), Center for Youth Integration (CYI), Praxis, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), and Save the Children Serbia. During this meeting, they also discussed other active programs, opportunities to improve exchange and cooperation, networking, as well as challenges in working with girls on the move.
Working lunch at Bagel Bejgl shop
At the end of the visit, colleagues from Bosnia and Herzegovina had the opportunity to visit Atina’s Reintegration Center, attend a meeting of the Advocacy Group of migrant women and their preparation of local action to mark the International Women's Day - Women's March on the streets of Belgrade. After this meeting, the possibility of creating an Advocacy Group for girls and women from the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina was discussed, and members of the Advocacy Group shared their impressions and pointed out the importance of participation and activism of migrant and refugee women and girls.
Some of the main conclusions of this visit were: the need for stronger networking between the teams in BiH and Serbia for the purpose of early identification of gender-based violence cases, exchange of methodologies for workshops with girls from the refugee and migrant population, connecting the teams and joint work on future trainings and on raising the capacities of organizations, as well as connecting teams in order to further develop peer and advocacy groups. The next study visit within the project "Pippi of Today" is scheduled for June 2022, when Atina’s team will visit the partner organization Save the Children in Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina.