Bringing Eritrea to the Netherlands

 
 
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PROJECT: ERITREAN
LOCATION: THE NETHERLANDS

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This is where we begin: by giving the Eritrean community in The Netherlands the freedom to share the best of their culture with established Dutch residents. By giving residents the opportunity to learn about their Eritrean neighbors.

Using the urban living lab model, Project Eritrean will assess the potential of an intentionally organized and supported cultural community to facilitate the integration of Eritrean statusholders and established residents through cultural immersion. This includes food, music, commerce, language, workshops, and celebrations.

 
 

Why Eritreans?

Eritrean statusholders are the second largest group to be granted residency in the Netherlands since 2015, after Syrians. At the same time, they seem to be the most misunderstood in terms of experience, culture, and ability. Members of this group are often mistaken as resistant to integration, uncooperative, and uninterested in the Dutch culture. But the integration of this group is critical; about three-quarters of the Eritrean refugee community are under the age of 30 with the time and ability to contribute great value to the Dutch society–an opportunity that will be missed if the integration of this community isn’t carefully considered.

Eritreans have many obstacles to overcome in order to successfully integrate in the Netherlands. Many Eritrean refugees have endured great trauma in Eritrea and in transit to the Netherlands and are coping with acts of violence, sexual abuse, and separation from their families. It is difficult for Eritreans to integrate under the weight of this trauma. For those who are separated from their families, much of their time and energy is spent on reuniting with them, but have found family reunification much more difficult than they were lead to believe. Additionally, the complexity of family separation and reunification is often detrimental to familial relations causing distance between partners and parents and children, and in many cases domestic violence. Often times Eritreans’ work experience and skills are unrecognized in the Netherlands leaving them unable to participate in the economy and concurrently, the difficulty of learning Dutch (due in part to the difficulty of navigating services and identifying adequate language schools) makes it difficult to participate in society where they would have more opportunity to interact with the Dutch. This creates a vicious cycle.

If you’re an Eritrean living in the Netherlands and you want to support this project, please consider sharing your story visually or taking a survey.

 
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