Space for children, knowledge and skills for mothers

Within the Women’s Centre project, children spend quality time at the Child Friendly Space while their mothers learn.

Jelena Terzic
Workshops for women
UNICEF Serbia/2018/Vas

08 October 2018

In the past six months, refugee and migrant women staying at the Asylum Centre in Krnjaca have been acquiring professional and life skills at the nearby Community Centre of the non-governmental organization ADRA, thanks to support provided by UNICEF Serbia and with financial support from the Spanish National Committee for UNICEF.

As part of the Women’s Centre project, they attend thematic workshops for empowering women, participate in sports and recreational activities, such as Zumba and fitness classes, and learn practical skills such as sewing.

In order for these women to be able to learn without having their children sitting in their laps, UNICEF has enabled both the Mother and Baby Corner and the Child Friendly Space to be established within the Women’s Centre project, so that children can spend quality time exploring while their mothers learn.

Twenty-four-year-old Fatima Teimuri from Afghanistan is the mother of Amene, a one-year-old girl with big black eyes. Fatima has made her own dress, acquiring the skill in a course taken at the Women’s Centre.

While she was participating in the course, her daughter was safe at UNICEF’s Child Friendly Space.

With a toy in one hand and a bottle of milk in the other, Amene often ran out of the CFS, through the curtain separating the two spaces, and into her mother’s arms, to ensure she was nearby.

“I came to Serbia in December 2016. I am among the first women who discovered the Women’s Centre,” Fatima recalls.

 

Fatima Teimuri from Afghanistan and her one-year-old daughter, Amene, during a break from workshops in the Women's Centre and the Child Friendly Space.
UNICEF Serbia/2018/Vas
Fatima Teimuri from Afghanistan and her one-year-old daughter, Amene, during a break from workshops in the Women's Centre and the Child Friendly Space.

“The programmes are tailored to our needs, and the most important thing is that there are people here taking care of our children. There are many toys here, there is a special section for babies. We also have free transportation. This is my home!” explains Jasmin, with happiness and gratitude in her voice.

While her older children, Ava and Ajaz, are stacking colorful wooden blocks, the youngest one, Hafez, is sleeping in the separate part of the Child Friendly Space reserved for babies and mothers with young children.

Jasmin also made her first stitches in the Women's Centre, but is acquiring numerous other professional and life skills every day, such as computer training. She can also hear useful advice on parenting and the specific way of life in the Asylum Centre.

"There are many toys here, there is a special section for babies. We also have free transportation. This is my home!” explains Jasmin, with happiness and gratitude in her voice.

“I am satisfied because I believe that they are very good people who can take care of my children here and that is why I can attend all workshops without worries and without tensions”, Jasmin says.

Friendship between Jasmin (on the left) and Fatima (on the right) from Afghanistan started in the Women's Centre
UNICEF Serbia/2018/Vas
Friendship between Jasmin (on the left) and Fatima (on the right) from Afghanistan started in the Women's Centre

In the Women’s Centre, women meet new friends and socialize among themselves and with the local population.

“The atmosphere here is different compared to the camp. When we are here, we can forget for a couple of hours that we are refugees,” Fatima says.

Neither Fatima nor Jasmin miss the thematic workshops on empowering women.

They learn from examples of behaviour about situations in which they can find themselves on the way to their destination in Western Europe, about life in a culture different from the one they come from, and about women’s rights and the importance of children’s education.

Children playing with toys at the Child Friendly Space
UNICEF Serbia/2018/Vas
Sports, music and creative workshops are organized for children at the Child Friendly Space

“The effect of such workshops is visible only after some time, and their goal is to have refugee and migrant women acquire new life skills and professional skills, increase their confidence, learn more about parenthood and learn how to function more easily in their current situation”, says Andja Petrovic, a social worker.

Within the programme of support to refugee and migrant women, which is being implemented in the Women’s Centre, UNICEF has also ensured that women can get legal advice and the help of a psychologist if they need it.

Fatima and Jasmin also have common favourite activities – Zumba and fitness classes.

Jasmin says this is because recreation is good for your health, and Fatima admits, with a smile, that she just loves to dance.