“We belong to Ethiopia”, cultural event for children of migrant workers

0
528

At Amel’s centre in Karm el Zeytoun started a new series of cultural events for migrant workers and their families. Wednesday, we welcomed about sixty Ethiopian children and their mothers for a vibrant Ethiopian culture day.

The centre provides psychosocial support and material help to migrant workers, but this event was more about bringing positivity back into their migrant experience. Karm el Zeytoun centre is used to receiving them and had noticed the pain that the lack of a sense of belonging can bring to their children.

In fact, more prone to being bullied, the children of those coming from afar also have a hard time embracing their culture. With one foot in their birth country and the other in their mother’s country, they often feel lost and rejected.
Besides, the country to which they are identified does not grant them an identity card, they hence have trouble knowing who they are and, where they belong. Yet a sense of belonging is an essential part of a child’s identity development.

In order to make the children see the beauty of their origins, Amel develops a dialogue through art. Art is a way of nurturing children and freeing them from challenges that are beyond them. During this edition about Ethiopian culture, everyone collaborated to create a gigantic artistic passport. Kids took off their shoes and started painting on a five-meter-long sheet of paper. While mothers, during liberating discussions, were able to share in a cathartic way the struggles of seeing their children grow up outside Ethiopia.

 

This heart-warming event was an intense moment of exchange that culminated in a collective dance where the mothers, accompanied by some skilled children, taught the national dance. For many, it was one of the first times they discovered Ethiopian folklore. Amel’s team, including Carla Joumana, the initiator of the event, was astonished to see how little the children knew about their mother’s country, where they have never set foot. More than a precious celebration, the collaborative art project, dances, and discussions were an opportunity for shared moments between mothers and children, but also for community and friendships building.

As emphasized by both participants and organizers, Amel’s action is valuable for migrant workers in Lebanon, especially because its capacities allow for complete inclusivity and broad impact, leaving no one behind. In fact, to hold such an event meant helping the workers to get some free time. Many phone calls were made, and a lot of persuasion was needed to allow them to visit the centre. Amel’s resources really worked in favour of inclusiveness. For instance, having heard that it was unthinkable for a mother to reach the centre with her disabled children, the willpower of Amel’s team allowed these kids to be welcomed during the cultural event. Transportation, whose price is already one of the main obstacles for all participants, was arranged for this family.

Overall, the first edition of this cultural gathering was a great success and will therefore be renewed with many other nationalities such as Sudan.