'Don Bosco 4 Refugees' was a capacity building project of Don Bosco Youth-Net ivzw, supported by the Council of Europe's European Youth Foundation, which aimed to research and develop how our network can engage into Human Rights Advocacy.
As Don Bosco Youth-Net ivzw is a political neutral organisation, we couldn't use the use the normal "activism" cookbook for campaigning. This meant we needed to learn how the volunteers of our member organisations could be activated to advocate for a common concern which our member organisations want to address. Therefore it was important within this capacity building process to start from our volunteers, which would develop an advocacy approach through 3 activities:
‘SPEAK UP!’ was a 6-day European training course on youth advocacy which aims to develop the competences of the pax in developing and implementing advocacy actions focussed at impacting local, regional, national or European youth policy, in particular policies affecting young refugees. The TC took place at the Salesianum in Vienna (AT), from 27/03/2016 until 03/04/2016.
‘Crossing Borders’ was a 6 day youth exchange on intercultural learning and migration, aiming at introducing local volunteers to international youth work. The venue for this activity was the Aktionszentrum Benediktbeuern (DE), and took place from 30/07/2016 until 06/08/2016.
'Take the next step’ was a 4-day training seminar aimed at transforming an international voluntary experience of returning volunteers into active citizenship in local community, with a thematic focus on young refugees. The venue was the Saint John Bosco College in Battersea (UK), from 16/11/2016 until 21/11/2016.
Through these 3 activities the participants developed competences in youth advocacy and campaigning focused at the rights of young refugees in Europe. We choose this thematic focus because our volunteers decided they wanted to join the efforts of the Global Don Bosco Movement in catering for refugees in our local works.
DBYN explored through the project how we could engage into campaigning as part of our work on Human Rights. We expected to develop a campaign or several micro-campaigns which could be carried out by the participants. The process of work plan took us into a different direction, resulting into the understanding that "storytelling" and "witnessing" are advocacy actions which better fit our tradition.
We will continue to explore this in the future years. We will do this in cooperation with our institutional partners the Council of Europe and the European Union, as well as through our observer membership in the European Youth Forum, where we have been increasingly involved in their Human Rights & Migration network as a direct outcome of this project.