Two years of supporting the young returnee people from Germany and other European countries reached 739 boys and girls in the age group between 12 and 35 years of age. After several sets of training for the selected children and youth in three towns: Vranje, Surdulica and Bujanovac in South Serbia (successfully integrated former returnees, deportees and failed asylum seekers as well as local interested youth) they provide peer support to assist integration of the newly arrived transit migrants, asylum seekers, returnees and deportees. Throughout this two-year project, newly arrived migrants have been supported to (re)integrate into educational system, society and get involved in local decision making processes. This initiative is supported by the SHL (Schüler Helfen Leben) organisation. Our partners in this project are ASTRA and EPTO (European Peer Training Organisation).
In May and June, we have helped the young returnees who are graduating from elementary school in Bujanovac, Vranje and Surdulica to get better final grades and prepare for the final exams through additional tutoring in Serbian and English languages and mathematics. This support has also been organised with the funds from the German youth organisation SHL (Schüler Helfen Leben).
Prevention of Human Trafficking
Over the period of two years, within our project supported by Schüler Helfen Leben, NGO ASTRA held several training of trainers sessions on the topic of prevention of human trafficking in Vranje, Surdulica and Bujanovac, helping young active returnees become peer educators on the issues related to the potential dangers for young people answering the job offers, dating proposals and when travelling abroad. There was a huge interest in these topics, motivation among young returnees to learn and pass on their newly acquired knowledge to the recently arrived returnees. After this series of training, NGO ASTRA trainers supported the new group of peer trainers in holding and facilitating the workshops for other young people in their municipalities. During 2019, NGO ASTRA also held a set of training sessions for the young migrants from Middle East who were gathered in the Refugee camps in south Serbia.
Support for (Re)Integration into Education
During the project, we provided textbooks for 311 returnee pupils and school material for 288 of them. There were 163 girls who received the textbooks and 153 who received the school material.
For 63 young returnees (out of 71 requests) we helped verification of their educational documents obtained abroad, whilst the process is still underway for three more young returnees. This type of support (gathering all the documents proving that some period of education the current returnees completed in Germany and/or other European countries from the returnees, their parents, schools attended abroad, securing the official translation, preparing the request for verification to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and later the Agency for Qualification, as well as following the process, sending the responses and proofs of verified years of education, finding out legal opportunities for the school assessments of the previously acquired knowledge in cases when the documents were not available) is provided practically only by our organisation in Serbia and as such it has been recognised as a referral point for this activity by the relevant national bodies, schools, parents and young returnees and as support organisation for reintegration of the returnees into the education system in Serbia.
We also supported the transportation of eight pupils who had to travel to school in another town through the payment of their monthly transportation tickets.
Young former migrants - returnees who expressed their desire to become Peer Trainers and supporters to the newly arrived returnees applied for the training in various aspects of peer support. Based on their applications, preferences and selection criteria, we selected 11 young people for the first training on peer support. Our partners from EPTO (European Peer Training Organisation) posted a call for trainers and selected Beatriz Casares from Spain and Sergiu Mir from Romania to come and help our young future peer trainers gain skills and knowledge. Bea and Sergiu held a five-day training at Vlasina Lake in the first half of February 2018. The experience was so positive that many more young returnees wanted to join the group. During this two-year project, a total of 93 young people underwent series of training covering recognition of one’s needs and issues affecting their (re)integration into the society, definition of those issues and topics that they themselves could help tackle, planning and realisation of the advocacy and lobbying campaigns, financial planning, budgeting and fundraising for these activities as well as attracting other members of the community and municipality to assist in changing the situation for the young returnees.
In the second year of the project, these young returnees organised workshops for the newly arrived returnees, included them into the planned campaigns and activities and implemented their planned advocacy and lobbying to change the situation. A total number of the young returnees that took part in these activities in all three municipalities stood at 385 (190 girls and 195 boys).