Social Cafe for Serbian asylum seekers
Social Cafe for Serbian asylum seekers

Infomigrants looks at the social cafe #RefugeesWelcome in Bogovadja, 70km from Belgrade. It provides a meeting place for asylum seekers at the town's transit center.

The cafe is the result of a partnership between Caritas Ambriosiana, Ipsia, Caritas Italiana and Caritas Valjevo. Since October 2016, these organizations have been working with local and international staff to provide psychological support, as well as educational, cultural and recreational activies, to over 250 asylum seekers.

Courses offered at the cafe

Sergio Malacrida, Caritas Ambrosiana's director for eastern Europe, has described the the services provided by the cafe: "[It is] a meeting place that goes beyond providing an emergency response [to people in crisis]. The social cafe acknowledges asylum seeker's dignity by promoting people's individual skills and abilities." The cafe offers computing and language courses, job search support and professional training in order to help people at the refugee transit center take the first steps towards integration in Europe. It has computer work stations and a cafe bar area, which means that people can have a cup of tea or coffee while taking part in the activities.

A space for breaking with routine

"The social cafe was established to cater to the needs of people at the transit center ," explains Ipsia-Acli president, Mauro Montalbetti. "Its goal is to be an informal meeting place, where people can take a break from the usual daily routine goverened by the distribution of basic essentials, registration, medical check-ups or bureaucratic procedures. In 2015 and until March 2016 over 920,000 migrants passed through Serbia trying to reach Hungary or Austria. Today more than 4,000 people are waiting for permission from the Hungarian authorities to enter the EU, or else they are looking for a way to cross the border illegally. Most of these asylum seekers and migrants are living in government reception centers, such as this one in Bogovadja.

 

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