Supporting Migrants Through Creative And Educational Workshops in Reception Center Obrenovac and Asylum Center Krnjača
"Social Cafe" is the concept of providing services and organizing activities for refugees and migrants who, after the Balkan route was closed, stay longer in Serbia. The goal of "Social Cafe" is to offer people, who have fled from war-affected areas and severe poverty, a place where they can spend quality time, have tea or coffee while playing board games, listen to music or watch a movie, but also where they can have educational and sports activities, participate in courses and workshops, gain new knowledge in different areas and develop their skills.
Divac Foundation is conducting "Social Cafe" concept in Reception center Obrenovac and Asylum center in Krnjača with financial support of Swiss Cooperation Office in Serbia (SDC), Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade, Grop 484 and International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Since the opening in Krnjača (June 2016) and Obrenovac (April 2017) 300 there were over 1,500 different workshops organized inside Social Cafés, with over 4,000 participants. There was 332 creative workshops, 300 sewing lessons, 20 eco workshops, 54 courses of gardening, 45 music workshops and 36 woodcraft workshops. Additionaly, we organized 168 classes of English language, 36 classes of Serbian language for refugees and migrants and 49 geography classes.
Also, there was 180 movie projections and six koncerts of multicultural band "Social Cafe". Band members brought together the culture of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cuba and Serbia and showed that diversity is the value of every society.
Unfortunately, this project will last only until the end of the year. Language courses, sewing workshops, art art&craft, sport and musical workshops will end and the band will no longer play.
SOCIAL CAFE ACTIVITIES
ART & CRAFT WORKSHOPS
In Krnjača, girls and women learned how to use decoupage techniques, draw, paint and make jewelry while in an all-male center in Obrenovac, boys and men were drawing, sculpting and crafting objects out of wood. Our most popular workshop in Krnjača is “Hand painted t-shirts” where participants design and create their own t-shirts, which they can proudly wear afterwards.
The basic course in English is held by the young men and women from the refugee population who wanted to help other women and boys to make basic communication in English. The course in advanced English was tailored
for the young people who already have basic knowledge, and would like to expand on it, and use it to teach others.
On the course the participants learn and practice the basic computer skills and the use of internet and online services. Most of the participants didn’t have any previous experience with computers.
Participants of these workshops learn about the importance of recycling, ecology and protecting the environment through creative process, lectures and films. So far during these workshops, refugees and migrants from Reception center Obrenovac have made several pieces of equipment and furniture presented in Social Café. Also there were 8 volunteering activities aimed at protecting the environment, and cleaning river banks and parks.
Many people accommodated in Reception center Obrenovac are very talented for music and learn quickly how to play simple tunes or sing. Every workshop gathers a lot of spectators, which make these workshops look more like
a concert. Many of the participants have learned the basics of playing the guitar, and the most talented have become a part of the band. The four most talented boys sing in concerts whenever we get the opportunity to make a concert inside the Reception center Obrenovac.
Participants of these workshops learn about Serbia and European countries and their customs and cultural differences through short films, lectures and quizzes. The results in quizzes show they are really keen to learn more, and that they are really paying attention during lectures.
Weather permitting, the sports activities are organized inside both centers on a daily basis. Most popular sports in Krnjača are football and volleyball, while in Obrenovac they attend a cricket training twice a week in cooperation with Cricket Federation of Serbia. Several tournaments in football, table tennis and cricket were organized.
Among the refugee population, movies are very popular. They can choose which ones they would like to watch, and they mostly choose Bollywood movies. Once a week in Obrenovac we organize a movie night, which got so popular that we had to move it to the mess hall to be able to accommodate over 200 people.
Every day, board games and fun activities fill every minute around workshops and courses. Billiard, table football, cards, jigsaw puzzles, board games are played every day. With very limited options on how to spend a day, many people just come to both Social Cafés to just meet and talk with their friends, as they serve also as a meeting point.
As part of the woodcraft workshop, the beneficiaries of Reception Center in Obrenovac have the opportunity to develop their craftsmanship skills that can later assist them in their everyday life. Within the workshop, they made a professional billiard table, library shelves and different kinds of souvenirs.