Human Dignity for Migrant Youth: A Volunteer’s Experience

After finishing college, I finally had more time for my other interests. For few years, I have been interested in the subject of human rights, but for understanding and answering questions such as what human rights are and how we can respect them, I ought to first thoroughly research its foundation – human dignity. This was the reason I was thrilled when I found a new World Youth Alliance Southeast Europe project in collaboration with European Solidarity Corps (ESC) titled Human Dignity for Migrant Youth. By participating in the project my three wishes would have come true – to study human dignity in detail, to spread the awareness about dignity among children, and to familiarize myself with problems of migrant children.

A screenshot of the video lesson

The first assignment was to investigate about migrant wave, problems, accommodation, laws, demographic structure… This took a few weeks to complete. Then I needed to sign a volunteer agreement with the JRS, Jesuit Refugee Service (an only organization under which volunteers can work with refugees). I signed the contract on Wednesday. On Friday evening everything in Croatia closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, I haven’t even once worked with children in person. Because of this unexpected challenge, workshops needed to be adjusted. It was decided I was going to make a video format of the lessons along with accompanying lesson plan and worksheet. In the end, we had 11 lessons. I have learned something I probably wouldn’t if not for this project, and that is to make a video from beginning to the end. I have tried different ways of making a simple and neat video before reaching the final result. I have learned to make a plan with text and games that ease explaining of the lesson, to record and edit audio, to find adequate pictures, to make transparent and visually appealing presentation, and lastly, to combine everything into a video.

Despite everything, my wish to work with migrant children came true. After signing the agreement with the JRS, I met two children from Syria, brother and sister, whom I tutored via video call. Through conversations, besides tutoring, I also had an opportunity to find out more about Syria, what they went through, the fear they felt and restless effort to, despite everything, live a beautiful and peaceful life, hoping that the war will end soon and that they will in the future return home to Syria.

As an additional activity, I also had an opportunity to help create potential future activities in the same field, where my previous experience with programs for children came to be helpful. This gave me an excellent chance to think about explanations understandable to young people interested in dignity and bioethics issues. This was another way for me to enhance my creativity and to affirm my beliefs and views.

Participation in the project helped me develop new skills, gain knowledge and reflect on values that motivate us and guide our life choices. It is clear to me now how important it is to let everyone now, especially young people who survived trauma such as war, that we all have dignity. I want a project like this to remind us that every one of us has a power and responsibility to build a society that views “dignity” as more than just an abstract word that is freely and individually interpreted, a society that acknowledges with words, and respects in its actions undoubted dignity of every human being,

Published: September 25, 2020
Written by Martina Miličević, ESC volunteer on the Human Dignity for Migrant Youth project