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Shima Mumeni had to leave Afghanistan, her home country, because of unstable political situation. Seeking after a safe place, she and her family travelled through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Macedonia, arriving in Serbia in late November 2016, where they had to stay even though it wasn’t the destination they were hoping to reach.

The road was very long, the weather kept changing and the constant uncertainty affected my mood. The situation I was in was very different from the plans I had for my family and me. All along I had the impression that human life was very cheap”, Shima remembers their journey.

Upon arriving to Serbia she and her two children settled in migrant camp in Bujanovac, small southern town. There they were greeted by the staff of Regional Youth Center, NGO from Niš which was running the project “Closing the Gap between Youth from Local and Migrant Population”. The project is part of German Development Cooperation’s regional project “Social Rights for Vulnerable Groups” and it was established with the aim to help and empower the youth from migrant population situated in camps in Bujanovac and Vranje by including them in various sports, creative and educational activities and connecting them with their peers from local communities. It also answered their needs for interesting every day activities at the camp, since they weren’t allowed to leave it. The diversity of participants, who came from Siriya, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as from local Albanian, Serbian and Roma communities, set the dynamic and vivid atmosphere of cultural exchange, mutual support and understanding, making Shima and her children feel welcome and secure.

“I have now acquired a new family, some new dear people who have helped me to make use of the time spent here. The Regional Youth Center team was a real refreshment for me. I joined their workshops, trainings, and I even started to play sports, although it is not so common in my country. I am very grateful for this wonderful project and knowledge I gained. It seems to me that taking part in Regional Youth Center’s activities has made me stronger, more determined, and has returned hope for a better tomorrow”, Shima shared her impressions. “My children started playing basketball for a local club in Bujanovac, they are great athletes and I am very proud of them”, she added.

Through this project Regional Youth Center continues to practice its commitment to achieving equity among youth and eliminating stigma and discrimination.

The idea behind project was that young people share many problems and experiences, no matter which country or culture they come from. Our intention was to make them become aware of these common features and realize they can help one another and understand each other better. Many of our educational workshops were dedicated to topics such as human rights, gender equality, violence and antidiscrimination, which they all found very familiar and which made them see they weren’t that much different from each other”, Žikica Asković, the representative of Regional Youth Center explained.

In cooperation with relevant institutions and NGOs which share their mission, Regional Youth Center supports the activities which are directed towards the empowerment of human rights and creation of equal opportunities for all, with particular concern for vulnerable groups.

About the measure:

Since July 2017, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been implementing the measure “Advice and Support to Asylum Seekers in Serbia and Macedonia“ on behalf of German Development Cooperation. The measure relies on the intensified need to provide asylum seekers with access to adequate information and support through the transit period, as well as mechanisms for potential integration. Bearing such context in mind, the main objective of the measure is to contribute to improving the position and prospects of asylum seekers placed in reception centres, providing support to implementation of specific, needs-oriented and adequate measures supporting integration.

Contact person: Mr. Michael Samec

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