On 28 March 2019, Latvian Red Cross (LatRC) organised a study visit for colleagues form German, British, Italian and Irish Red Cross national societies and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), as well as for representatives of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The main aim of the study visit was to introduce international guests with the experience of Ropazi municipality, Accommodation Centre for Asylum Seekers “Mucenieki” and Riga Secondary School No. 93 in regard to integrating refugees and asylum seekers (RAS) in local society of Latvia. Guests had the opportunity to get to know more about the general situation in terms of the access to education (especially for children), health care and daily life of a person before and after receiving refugee or alternative status.
First, participants of the study visit went to Ropazi municipality, where the Executive Director Signe Grube introduced everyone with different projects, activities and municipality’s work in integrating RAS into local society. After the presentation, the system of education, health care and social services related to RAS in the territory of Ropazi municipality was discussed among participants.
The visit continued in the Accommodation Centre for Asylum Seekers “Mucenieki”, which is located in Ropazi municipality, 40 min driving distance from capital city Riga. The centre is the main State institution where asylum seekers who arrive to Latvia live while waiting for receiving their status. The director of “Mucenieki” Peteris Grube organized an excursion around the territory of the centre, introduced with everyday life of inhabitants, internal rules, services and free time activities that are provided there.
After the excursion LatRC social worker and social mentors presented the latest information about the work with RAS. Participants got to know more about the “Buddy” program and the support mechanism to promote the integration processes and socialization with local people within the AVAIL project.
The third stop of the visit was Riga Secondary School No. 93. In this school several refugee children have started their studies. The director and teachers told about school’s experience and obstacles in teaching children with different cultural and educational background, and without Latvian language skills. They inroduced participants with several approches and metotolodgy of how to teach foreign children and how to help them socialize with other kinds. There are couple of good practice examples, where refugee children have started studies in a school, are very sucessful in dealing with exercises, homeworks and exams and getting in a higher grade afterwards.
At the end of the day participants of this study visit addmited that this kind of learning process was very useful and important especially comparing Latvia’s and other countrie’s experience: similarities and differences.
LatRC is one of the 191 national societies of International Red Cross movement, which works with the main goal to provide help and support to every person in need, including RAS.
Since February 2018 LatRC together with British, Italian, Irish Red Cross national societies and IFRC realizes international project AVAIL – “Amplifying the voices of asylum seekers and refugees for integration and lifeskills”. The project is funded by European Union within the migration and integration fund (AMIF).