According to the latest UNHCR statistics (2018), 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from their homes and their countries. Among them are nearly 25.4 million migrants and refugees, over half of whom are minors, accompanied and unaccompanied, under the age of 18. The unprecedented increase in the number of displaced and migrant children and youth has a devastating impact on their lives, leaving them with no prospects for the future.
To face this challenge of our time, since 2017, Fondation Alta Mane supports Fondation Terre des hommes (Tdh) for the design and modelization of the “You Create” methodology, developed in collaboration with the International Institute for the Child Rights & Development (IICRD). Based on the Participatory Action Research model, the “You Create” methodology has the ultimate goal to offer through creative art activities a psychosocial support to children and young people who have experienced trauma, abuse and violence during their different migration routes, forced displacement and social exclusion. More specifically, this participatory methodology aims to engage youth who have experienced migration and adversity and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders, to enhance their experience of meaningful participation involving their peers in youth-led psychosocial arts and community change projects. Through “You Create” youth explore with their peers and fellow community members the hazards of life and develop together youth-led artistic projects to express and communicate the emotions, hopes and challenge they face, and enhance their capacity and opportunities to engage in wider society, including in decision making. Scientific evidence has shown that engagement in art activities enhances youth’s psychophysical well-being and increases their active participation in humanitarian emergency contexts.
“Arts-based programming offers people a chance to connect to themselves as artists with a role and purpose in their community, using the arts to construct their own stories”
O’Kane, C. “Children’s Participation in the analysis, Planning and Design of Programmes: A guide for Save the Children Staff, 2013
Pilot Phase in EGYPT and IRAQ (2018-2019)
During this first pilot phase, Terre des hommes selected and trained 144 young people who have experienced conflicts, who are affected by migration, adversity and displacements, or on the move, as well as host community members (78 in Egypt and 66 in Iraq), aged 15-25, who, accompanied by 62 social community workers, trainers and/or community based organizations officers, developed 28 youth-led artistic activities, based on the use of the “You Create” methodology, engaging a total of 952 young peers (252 in Iraq and 700 in Egypt). The different projects, realized through different creative art activities (from drawing to interactive theatre, including paintings and murals, to short films), enabled young people to respond through arts, and in a space of freedom and security, to the main challenges of their host communities, such as, inter alias, racial and gender discrimination; bullying; psychophysical violence/abuse on minors and the resulting trauma; lack of safe and protected spaces where to practice art; positive parenting; drug abuse, etc. The results achieved during the capitalization phase in Egypt (in the community reception centers in Cairo) and Iraq (in the Kirkuk Governorate) demonstrated how creative art activities have a positive impact at individual and community level, empowering young people to (i) regain hope and confidence in their future, self-confidence and a feeling of freedom; (ii) strengthen their self-esteem and their interpersonal skills; (iii) improve their artistic skills and acquire new Life Skills, preparatory to the start of a resilience process; (iv) influence the entire community (families, parents, friends, etc.).
Pilot Phase in GREECE and UKRAINE (2019)
In 2019, Alta Mane proven effectiveness of the methodology to intercept and respond, in a timely and targeted manner, to the needs of young people on the move, renewed its support for its implementation, dissemination and replication in other contexts of migratory emergency (in Greece), and long-term displacement (in Ukraine).
YOU CREATE in UKRAINE
Since the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which broke out violently in 2014, according to data provided by the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine (2019), more than 750’000 people are officially registered as Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) in the Oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk. In 2017, Tdh made an assessment of the psychophysical and mental conditions of people (in particular children) living on the Conflict Line, highlighting how displaced children have suffered from a severe deterioration in their psychophysical well-being, with the onset of PTSD symptoms such as: anxiety, nightmares, bedwetting; an increase in violent behavior; hyperactivity; depression; panic attacks triggered by loud noises or unexpected contact with other people. In response to this emergency, Terre des hommes developed, since July 2019, the “You Create” project in schools and community spaces in 12 communities of the Oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk in order to improve psychosocial well-being and foster a post-traumatic resilience process for IDPs children and youth. During the first semester of the project implementation (July-December 2019), 25 young people, aged 12-18, were selected and trained, and accompanied by 23 local operators, child protection professionals, and Tdh Staff, then developed 6 youth-led artistic projects engaging a total of 95 young peers. The projects, all presented on the occasion of a Youth Leader Forum, organized in the city of Kurakhove (Oblast of Donetsk) on December 16-19, 2019 with the support of UNICEF, enabled young people to raise awareness, through arts, in their respective communities of belonging, on the main challenges of our time, such as hyper-connectivity, social media addiction, risks of virtual reality; bullying and verbal abuse in schools; environmental respect and global warming, etc.
YOU CREATE in GREECE
In 2019, in Greece, a total of 74’613 new refugees and asylum seekers arrived, mainly from Afghanistan, Syria, DRC, Iraq, Palestine and Iran. Of these, 36.5% are children, the highest number of minors’ arrivals since the signing of the EU-Turkey agreement on March 18th, 2016. The city of Ioannina (Epirus) recorded the highest number of arrivals since 2015, hosting 3’500 people, located in urban reception centers managed by the UNHCR, and in temporary reception centers for Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC). In response to this dramatic emergency, since April 2017, Terre des hommes manages the Community Center Mikri Polis, a community center for migrants and refugees which provides protection and legal assistance, builds bridges of dialogue with the local community, and fosters integration of “newcomers” and young Greek citizens in economic and social distress, through the development of diverse social, cultural, linguistic and professional integration programs, including the “You Create” project. During the first semester of the project implementation (July-December 2019), 20 young people, aged 14-24, were selected and trained, and accompanied by 11 local operators, child protection professionals, and Tdh Staff, then developed 5 youth-led artistic projects engaging a total of 88 young peers. The projects, presented to the local community during an Open Day (held at the Community Center Mikri Polis on February 18th, 2020), in addition to intercept, through arts, the main challenges of the youngest related to their confinement, such as language barriers and lack of communication, have also raised awareness among the local community about the mutual benefits of integration and the importance of the “You Create” project as Best Practice of empowerment of young people and as a tool to promote tolerance and coexistence.
Objectives achieved with the implementation of the YOU CREATE project
YOU CREATE in figures
“Before You Create, I was not optimistic or there was nothing that made me feel happy and hopeful, but after my participation in the project, my idea changed completely”
“This methodology has affected me positively; it helped me to get out of my isolation and deal with war and its consequences in a different way. Now I voice my concerns. I feel that my personality has developed and I have leadership skills”
“The You Create project was a truly wonderful experience. It enabled us to use art in order to understand how we can manage problems and express our feelings. My role was that of a Youth Leader. I made new friends and had a great time. The Mikri Polis Community Center is the best place to have fun, make friends and get involved”
“[Thanks to You Create] I have the chance to help students in Centers of After-School Activities to learn more about their creative potential and to discover their ability to change their community by implementing their own ideas”