Refugee to refugee
The group comprises women hailing from different countries, and includes refugees, immigrants, and women from Poland. They have been operating as a Foundation for a short time only. They organise meetings, integrate, set up self-help mechanisms, learn, hold anti-violence workshops, and support one another. “Each of us contributes her own skills and professional resources, we complement each other and we jointly develop activities tailored to the needs of a specific group of women,” they declare.
“Reasons behind the decision to act include a shortage of educational or integration programmes addressing refugees, who are exposed to discrimination in assorted dimensions: gender, ethnic and/or national origin, religion, skin colour, and systemic lack of access to multiple areas of social, economic, and cultural life in Poland.”
Dress sewing workshops
Travelling Women are second-time Feminist Fund grant recipients. This time, they organised a sewing workshop – “My Own Dress” – addressing refugees resident in the Centre for Foreigners in Grupa near Grudziądz, where anti-violence workshops had been organised before.
“Persons applying for international protection suffer of radical social exclusion. Polish policy and practice in the area of receiving, handling, and integrating asylum seekers is extremely restrictive. Conditions of minimum subsistence make families face basic need deprivation. Great distances separating Centres from larger cities mean that the job market cannot be accessed. (…) Refugees frequently residing at Centres, in closed environments, for periods of 2-4 years, have no time, place, or right to pursue their own needs,” Travelling Women say.
Group meetings and workshops are not just about sewing – they are much more. This is space where refugees (Centre residents) may pursue their creativity. Here is where activities are organised, allowing women to meet each other, meet other women, and share their experiences. Here is where they can gain new skills, along with a sense of agency. “All women from the Centre now have one new dress each; they sewed these dresses all by themselves, following canons of their cultural traditions and their own preferences.”
Grant amount: PLN 4,400.00
Photos: Michał Zieliński