Many young people with a refugee background are under enormous psychological pressure in Switzerland. In addition to the uncertainty of whether they will be allowed to stay in Switzerland, the culture shock and the language barrier, traumatic experiences put a great strain on these young people. With the project "MePower" terre des hommes switzerland fills a gap and offers psycho-social support for young migrants.
In the "MePower" project, young people learn about their strengths and possibilities for action and are given the opportunity to network. terre des hommes switzerland has many years of experience in working with traumatized young people through its project work in southern Africa and Latin America. In our projects, we work successfully with the method of the solution-oriented approach (Solution Focused Approach, SFA). Instead of focusing on the problems and weaknesses of those affected, SFA focuses on their strengths and resources. They learn to recognize and develop these so that they can become active on their own and give their lives a positive turn.
As part of the project, a monthly regulars' table, several workshops and a summer camp with young refugees take place throughout the year. This year's camp from August 7-9 was held under the theme "Home", which the young people had chosen themselves beforehand.
Not all wishes can be fulfilled
The event kicked off with an introduction to the topic of home. The young participants discussed their understanding of home in the group and shared their different perspectives on it. In small teams, the young people also presented the concept of home as a "statue". Good communication among the participants was important. This was a challenge that the young people mastered well, despite their different native languages, experiences and perspectives. Statements on the topic of "home" included "Home is a place without borders, where I feel free," "You can't forget home," and "Home is a place where you can put down roots. Mazlum, a young man from Kurdistan, had a similar view. He had found a second "home" after about 8 years in Switzerland. But not all the challenges that one has as a young person when one comes to Switzerland can be overcome. Nor can one always realize one's dreams and desires, he said. "I would like to work with animals, I love animals and nature. In my village, I used to work as a veterinary assistant. I don't know if I will be able to continue living this dream here in Switzerland at some point. But I am happy and free, that is important".
Own place of power gives support and confidence
On the second day, the participants created so-called body maps in an inspiring SFA workshop, with which they could creatively express their personal feelings, thoughts and memories in the context of home. In this context, the young people were given the task of going into themselves and finding their own place of strength and drawing it on the body map. According to art therapist Irene Bush, everyone has their own personal place of strength that can give them support and confidence in difficult situations. She was present at the camp as a workshop leader, and she established the psychosocial support for young people at terre des hommes schweiz many years ago. This approach to strengthening identity and community not only fostered collaboration, but also provided space for each person's different perspectives and stories. During the process, participants* had the opportunity to share their own experiences and relationships with home.
Another highlight of the camp was the joint conception of a city map by young migrants for young migrants in Basel. With this, the young people want to help other young people find their way around the city more quickly and point out places where they like to spend time. The body maps and the designed city map, which will be further developed in the coming months, will not only be physical artifacts but also symbolic representations of the individual and collective journeys undertaken by the young people with a refugee background.