Football tournaments, beach excursions, forest walks - although some migrant associations might wind down their activities during the summer, others are offering a wide range of activities aimed at migrants and refugees. InfoMigrants takes a closer look at what’s happening in Paris and other French cities this summer.
While some migrant associations might decrease their activities during the summer months due to a shortage of volunteers or the seasonal closure of their premises, others take advantage of the warmer summer months to offer a host of new activities. “The young are counting on us, and so we’re choosing to not take a break,” said Agathe Nadimi, founder of the volunteer organisation Les Midis du Mie that provides unaccompanied migrant minors with hot meals in Paris.
Maïa Courageux, who heads the centre for unaccompanied minors at Utopia 56, explains that after wanting to "learn the language," doing sports comes in as a strong second favorite among the migrant youths the association encounters. “The most popular activities are football and swimming because they can take showers on the spot,” she said. To avoid the activities getting in the way of the migrants’ many meetings with administrative officials and authorities, the association has made sure to schedule these activities outside of the regular business hours. They are held on weekday mornings and on Wednesdays, which is a day when French authorities rarely schedule administrative meetings.
In the city of Toulouse in southwestern France, migrant sports association Sportis (Sport International Solidaire) organises a weekly running event throughout the summer. Every Thursday at 19.50 in the evening, locals, migrants and refugees gather at the Capitole square in the city center to go for a run together. The association also organizes gym sessions, five-a-side football matches and tag rugby games. Sportis director Xavier Serry said that in contrast to many other associations, Sportis participants don’t need to prove their affiliation to an asylum centre (CADA) to take part.
In Paris, the La Fourmillière collective organises collective runs twice a week, year-round. Each Tuesday and Thursday night, a group of around 30 people gets together to run through the French capital together. Clément Debosque, one of the co-founders of La Fourmillière, says it’s important to keep the activity going throughout the summer because “those in exile are bored in the accommodation centers.”
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In collaboration with Fútbol Más, Emmaus Solidarité proposes sports activities to migrants linked to its operations*, especially to those living in the Ivry-sur-Seine family migrant center, and the Coustou emergency accommodation centre for males in the 18th arrondissement in Paris.
“Our aim is to host football tournaments, teaching participants the rules of the game and conveying the spirit of fair play,” Bruno Morel, director-general of
Emmaus Solidarité, said, adding that these activities are primarily reserved for children and teenagers. He sees sport as a "vehicle for social integration." According to Morel, adults can also take part in the Ivry-sur-Seine activities once a week, and at the Coustou center twice a week. Up until September, martial arts workshops are also offered at the Coustou center.
The association also organises excursions for children* to the countryside, the beach and the mountains. “Some excursions are just for the day, others lasts three days,” said Morel, stressing that most of the summer excursions are for free. One of the youth excursions will go to a horse stable, he added.
Midis du Mie also tries to organize activities that bring participants with a migrant background to the countryside. “In the beginning of August, we'll be bringing around 50 youths to a leisure park in the Paris region. They’ll be able to swim and go on pedal boats,” Agathe Nadimi said.
There is also a number of cultural events and
workshops on offer this summer. At the Ivry-sur-Seine center, for example,
Emmaus Solidarité is holding afternoon art workshops together with the contemporary museum of art in Val-de-Marne. The association will also host a stimulative
game workshop (puzzles, etc.) for children under the age of six. The school, located in the center, also hosts daily entertainment activities with a special focus on reading.
For adults staying at the Coustau center, there are museum outings on offer all summer as well as workshops held by the Parisian fashion-design school Fashion academy.
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*Emmaus activities are reserved for migrants and refugees that are already receiving support from the association