Article by Pearl Odigwe.
(5 mins read).
Our approved ESC project Migrant/Minorities and Youth Initiative (MAY I?) – 2019-3-IT03-ESC31-017413 has come to an end. 2020 did come with its upheavals and somewhat limited the scope of what we planned to achieve with this project, but we are glad that we were able to make it work in the end, impact lives and gain learning experiences this year together as a group.
In January, we had already created a registered Association (Migration and Migration Alignment), with this, we could have more access to our target group and collaborators. We were also able to create more awareness and orientation about project objectives and communicate this effectively through some visits to reception centers. In February, we held our first event, the MI-HELP workshop, sourced for partners we could work with in Milan including Nigeria Union Milan, Arcobaleno and Milan hubs interested in including migrants. As a team, we formulated and developed strategies for preceding events. March and April saw the rise of COVID-19 cases therefore, due to restrictions and regulations, project activities were not carried out. We created social media pages and group chats where we could stay in touch with our target group and update them about initiatives and opportunities offered by Comune di Milano and other organisations.
In May, we conducted a solidarity effort that provided almost 40 minority families with grocery items, helped migrants, refugees and asylum seekers with farm job linkages on Confagricoltura, “Sanatoria” requests that will recognize foreigners who were working here for a long time but without documentation. We also shared information with our target group on Comune di Milano’s “Buoni Spesa” initiative, income support and rent measures for those affected by the pandemic. We shared these opportunities and helped interested participants with tendering their applications as well. In June, we shared on our WhatsApp group educational opportunities and certification courses that individuals could engage in from home, members of the team on their own, were also creating and conducting webinars, workshops to amplify both their competences and sharing learning experiences with others online.
In July and August, we decided to extend partnerships and continue project activities by writing more Erasmus+ projects or through partnerships in the EU through the newly formed Association. We also continued helping our target group secure appointments at the “Polizia di Stato” for legal documents, links to lawyers and the second cycle of initiatives carried out by Comune di Milano. In September, we had our very first May I Volunteer? activity. This was done to measure and assess the views of our target groups on volunteering. Many youths were unemployed largely due to the pandemic, so we saw this as an opportunity to inform them about EU volunteering opportunities they could undertake, and also use this survey/feedback to work with Comune di Milano on volunteering opportunities for migrants/minorities. The “MilanoAiuto” initiative saw little to no participation from minority communities resident in Milan this year.
October was the month for project evaluation and dissemination. At the end of the month, 4 members of the team travelled to Torino for project assessment and evaluation with our coach Giulia from EUFEMIA. We were also able to amplify the project work through individual participation in the Youth Compact Champions program, UNMGCY, UNAOC and WAFF online sessions. Dissemination of the project was also done through partnership with Europiamo courtesy of their “Solidarity Lab” and this continued till November. Internally as a team, we were able to evaluate our efforts in carrying out project activities and also reaching out to our target group on how we have helped them so far and areas we can continue to do so. We were also able to secure a YTTF grant to continue May I Learn and Share? activities for next year.
For the last month of the project, we were able to finally get an official lawyer that could directly help our target group with legal counsel and documentation issues. A consultation session between him and the target group was held for almost a two week period observing COVID-19 regulations. We also celebrated Migrants Day highlighting migrant success stories shared on our blog. We were able to update our website and social media platforms, round up aspects of the project work including compiling reports and budgets, final meetings with our coach, plans for next year as an official Association, updating the Mobility Tool etc. Our project was lucky to have additional 3 new members join in, with everyone involved in the project issued a YouthPass certificate at the end of the year. We would like to thank the National Agency in Italy for approving our project and we definitely hope to continue working on supporting migrants and minorities here in Milan through our activities.