My name is Abby and I’m 20 years old. I am currently studying Philosophy, Religion and Ethics at the University of Birmingham and so far this summer, I have seized the opportunity to gain experience in the arena of international relations.
I spent 2 weeks of June as an intern at Integra, an NGO based in Malta. One of the organisation’s aims is to facilitate the integration of marginalised groups in society. Malta is a small island, Roman Catholic by constitution. Situated at the heart of the Mediterranean, it serves as a stepping stone into mainland Europe. Consequently, Malta has been on the receiving end of many boat arrivals carrying refugees and asylum seekers from North and Sub-Sahara Africa due to the conflicts that prevail there. The volunteers of Integra are helping to promote education and integration to the migrant community.
During my time with Integra, I attended various conferences to promote education about the asylum procedure. However I also taught English to refugee men and women who were living in the detention centre. These lessons were not just an opportunity to teach English, but they provided a space for migrants to be listened to. Like many places in the global north including Malta, racism is something that refugees encounter on a daily basis. It is hard to accept that the safe arrival of boats in Malta is only the start of the journey of the refugees within it. In its totality, my experience with the refugees is one that will remain with me.
This leads to my experience at CAFOD. I am still being fuelled to learn more about what is really happening in the world, as a result of my experiences in Malta. Yesterday, a group of ten young people and adults, from 4 different areas in North Wales, headed down to London to meet our local MPs to gain further support. After a tour of Westminster and lunch on the terrace, we each spoke to and had a photograph taken with our local MP. It was here that I was reminded of the importance of advocacy, a skill that just a few weeks earlier, I learnt was equally important in Malta.
We also had the opportunity to visit CAFOD Head Office. It was such a fantastic opportunity to visit the heart of the organisation and listen to various staff members speak passionately about their work. It really has been a source of motivation and encouragement for me.
Tomorrow, I will be able to utilise my experiences from both Malta and CAFOD in a visit to Argoed School, Mold. Along with a group of other volunteers, we will be running workshops for the year sevens, playing ‘On the Move’. It is a refugee game that encourages students to understand the plight of refugees by simulating their journey.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank CAFOD North Wales for the experiences I have had this week, but also to encourage others who are interested to take part too!