International Protection Integration Fund 2022

International Protection Integration Fund 2022

Language Explorers

In 2022 we received the International Protection Integration Fund (IPIF) from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) to deliver our Language Explorers Early Years programme throughout the whole of 2023.

A total of 326 attendees participated (177 children and 149 adults). 75% of attendees were not originally from Ireland, with 54%  currently in international protection.  

18 languages were spoken at our workshops, including Pashto, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Arabic, German, Russian, Galician, Portuguese, Italian, French, Chinese, Ukrainian, Edo, Somali, Yoruba, Irish and Spanish.

Language Explorers workshop. Mother Tongues.

Programme Overview: Language Explorers Early Years

Language Explorers Early Years, launched by Mother Tongues in 2022, is our dedicated outreach programme. This programme offers a creative, multilingual space for young children and families to develop language and literacy through play and artistic engagement and to enhance resilience, inclusion and overall well-being. In the workshops, run by bilingual artists, children and parents engage in creative activities that have been carefully designed to promote language and communication skills and also self-expression, through a culturally-sensitive approach.

 

Research shows that when children hear their family language spoken outside of the home they gain a stronger sense of confidence and develop positive attitudes toward their own diversity and other cultures. 

Monolingual children also benefit from gaining access to various languages and cultures. Being immersed in an environment where diversity is celebrated and valued models a positive anti-racist behaviour, showing children that it is important to learn from one another. 

With IPIF, our objective was to organise 28 artistic workshops that catered to families residing in South Dublin and the surrounding areas, with a focus on the inclusion of families with a history of forced displacement.

Implementation in South Dublin County

Our work took part across various areas in South Dublin County: we held workshops in Clondalkin, Tallaght and North Clondalkin libraries with artists Fernanda Ferrari, Alison Martin, Juliette Saumande and Carmel Stephens. 

[Language Explorers] is a really powerful programme. I could see firsthand the connections being created among the different children (from all different languages), also the sense of pride and belonging among the participants and caregivers. As an artist, it was also very important to me to be able to work in my own language. [...] I really enjoyed seeing the connections between the children and their adults during the workshops and the melody of the beautiful array of languages being spoken. Although I had always wanted to work with this age group (3 to 6), I hadn’t had the confidence to do so before my work with Mother Tongues. Their excellent training and support throughout the series helped me grow as an artist.”

Partnership with Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation

Thanks to our partnership with Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation we were able to build a relationship of trust with the families and staff of the Clondalkin Towers and The Intercultural Centre Clondalkin. 

The Glencree Centre played a pivotal role in training our Mother Tongues personnel and artists in the Capacitar method, which involves a suite of well-being and trauma-healing techniques.
You can learn more about the workshops’ impact in Clondalkin
in this video, with interviews of artist Fernanda Ferrari, the Intercultural and Refugee Programme Manager, Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Nadette Foley, Trauma & Wellness Consultant Patty Abozaglo and Early Years & Wellness Consultant, Marian Baker.

I have many amazing memories of those workshops. The trusted relationship we created with the families. Some mothers reported at the beginning that their children didn't have the chance before to socialize with other children and adults before and it was causing some issues even for them in school. And during the weeks of workshops that they attended, we could see how these children improved their communication and interaction with all the participants. To see the proof that art is really a tool of transformation and haling not just for children but for the mothers who attended the programme.

In the same year we also worked with the Ukrainian community in Bray thanks to our artist Olga Khomiak. These workshops, conducted in Ukrainian, were designed to cultivate a strong sense of belonging for the families attending. Olga’s testimonial in the video below resonates with the sense of closeness and empowerment these workshops brought to the families.

Participating in classes attended by Ukrainian children is a feeling of powerful support, that you are not alone in a country with a different language. It is emotionally and spiritually fulfilling and also stimulates to enjoy life in difficult times.”

Evaluation Process

In our evaluation process, special emphasis was placed on the last two series of workshops targeting IPAs communities, reflecting our commitment to understanding their impact thoroughly. To achieve this, we collaborated with an external evaluator, Nora Louwagie, who conducted a series of in-depth interviews and facilitated focus group discussions.  Worthy of mentioning is the fact that the evaluator noted that competencies that children seem to gain from the workshops could be used in different aspects of their lives. One of the mothers mentioned that observing her son’s behaviour during the workshops gave her solid evidence that he could be as affectionate as he was at home, contrary to his experience at school so far. This boosted her confidence in dealing with the school and finding ways to assist her child.

Future Plans

Undoubtedly, IPIF 2022 was a memorable journey, stimulating all involved. We are thrilled to announce that the DCEDIY has extended its trust in Mother Tongues. In fact, we have been awarded the IPIF 2023, which will allow us to expand on our recent successes and reach even more families in 2024.

Department for Children DCEDIY

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