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Dancing together to the beat of the African drum

Posted Date: 11/04/2013

UNHCR Website - 11 April 2013 (Youth Upbeat project)


Refugees met Maltese secondary school students as part of the "Youth Upbeat" project, which is aimed to promote interaction between young people and migrants living in Malta through the use of culture, music and dance.

Somali and Eritrean refugees explained to the Maltese pupils some of their own traditions in food, language, dress and music. The children explored together how different cultures would set a table for dinner.

"It is common that around the dinner table the family discusses their problems and older members would relate stories of the past," Fisseha, an Eritrean refugee, explained about Eritrea.

It seems not so different from Malta then! The Maltese children eagerly asked other questions about daily life in Eritrea and Somalia. Even difficult issues such as food shortages and forced military conscription were discussed.

Any misconceptions that the capitals of Somalia and Eritrea consist of mere mud huts along unpaved paths were dismissed as the students saw pictures of Asmara and Mogadishu - two cities that were originally built on the model of cities in Italy! The children then learned about these countries' past colonial links with Italy.

The project is carrying out twenty-four interactive workshops with young people from schools across Malta and Gozo. Through common interests in music, dance and drama, the Youth Upbeat Project encourages awareness and understanding to help promote positive integration.

A group of youngsters will take part in a live-in weekend in May who will work with SOS Malta, Agenzija Zghazagh, the team of cultural ambassadors and a professional in the performing arts so to come up with a performance about cultural diversity and integration. Interested applicants should contact SOS Malta.

The Youth Upbeat project is a one year project organized by SOS Malta together with Agenzija Zghazagh and is co-financed through the European Refugee Fund.


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