Erm 2008


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  • Erm 2008

    1. 1. A history of migrant women & European YWCAs Natallia Aleksandrovich, European Programme Director ERM 2008, Denmark
    2. 2. The YWCAs mission to refugees The refugees had no rights..they had to be fought for: no papers…they had to be obtained; no voice…someone had to interpret them; they had no channels…they had to be set up; and for this work there was no precedent. It had to be created . Nan Thompson, Director of the World’s YMCA/YWCA Services in Austria,March 1952
    3. 3. How did it start? <ul><li>World War 2 is over but the fallout across Europe is immense. There are refugees all over Europe in large numbers. </li></ul><ul><li>June 1944 Executive Committee made decision to join with YMCA in a joint agreement with United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration(UNRRA) to be responsible for displaced persons ( Austria and Germany) </li></ul><ul><li>World YWCA responded to request of World Alliance of YMCAs for help and by May 1946, 17 workers helping displaced persons of Europe </li></ul><ul><li>The service to civilian internees during the war had been regarded responsibility of the National YWCAs, but German YWCA was under restrictions of National Socialism and was not allowed direct contact with woman internees </li></ul>
    4. 4. Refugees came from everywhere <ul><li>YMCA/YWCA field staff set up programme designed to meet the needs of refugees: Staff distributed medical & sanitary supplies, set up educational institutions, selected leaders, opened foyers, encouraged sports and cultural activities </li></ul><ul><li>Refugees belonged to many different and nationalities and faiths. Separation from their own land made them very homesick </li></ul><ul><li>Service to DPs divided into two categories; that within the camps and that without. The aim was find the refugees a new future </li></ul>Both UNRRA and the Military authorities spoke highly of how YMCA/YWCA picked able leaders from among the DPs – giving them training, confidence and opportunities to take their place as leaders – Doris Hopkins, World YWCA
    5. 5. Education, Education, Education Leadership training was offered to all refugees in Austria. The orientation & language programme in Austria continued to grow and from late 1949, nine Field Secretaries travelled from camp to camp, explaining emigration possibilities to the refugees In March 1951, the Language Training Programme was handed from IRO to YMCA/ YWCA Joint Service. Within 6 months, almost 70, 000 refugees underwent language classes in English, Spanish and Portuguese Education offered from kindergarten to school level Retraining in new skills was also offered to refugees; shoemaking, welding, watch-repairing, sculpture
    6. 6. New lives begin <ul><li>1948 – the first shipload of refugees left to USA, Australia, Belgium, GB, France, South America & Canada </li></ul><ul><li>In 1951, UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR ) was set up </li></ul><ul><li>While some refugees left for a new life, many remained in camps and the aim for YWCA staff was to pierce the lethargy that camp life induced. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Faith made the mission possible <ul><li>Outreach to refugees was ecumenical </li></ul><ul><li>Every refugee child was taught English prayers & helped to make a prayer booklet to take to their new country </li></ul><ul><li>Thread of Christian fellowship ran through the community service created by YMCA/YWCA which was more than a welfare service </li></ul>
    8. 8. Discrimination of women refugees <ul><li>“ Refugee women were at the bottom of the pile. Although in camps we were able to give them educational opportunities sometimes greater than those of the indigenous women in the countries of asylum” – YWCA field staff </li></ul><ul><li>The main criteria for accepting immigrants became based on health and the economic contribution one could make </li></ul>
    9. 9. Children as refugees <ul><li>In 1955, Austrian refugee situation had not changed </li></ul><ul><li>YWCA concentrated efforts on integration </li></ul><ul><li>In YMCA/YWCA summer camps each child gained on average one and half kilos in a fortnight </li></ul><ul><li>In 1948 – 1951, YMCA/YWCA accommodated 1, 500-2,000 children in camp </li></ul>
    10. 10. The refugee problem continued <ul><li>1956 Hungarian rising saw Austria swamped with more than 200, 00 refugees: collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and demolition of Berlin Wall ( 1989) also saw thousands of refugees across Europe </li></ul><ul><li>In May 1992, YMCA/YWCA were given notice that their camps would be closed down & their services were no longer needed </li></ul><ul><li>At Beirut World Council 1951 it was decided refugee work would be made a priority and given funding </li></ul><ul><li>In Germany, the service to refugees led to formation of YMCA/YWCA movements. The German YWCA continued to support foreign refugee women </li></ul><ul><li>In Austria,large number of refugees still needed support. From 1955, World YWCA did best to support NA but it created problems for the continuation of YMCA/YWCA co-operation </li></ul>