Thursday, January 21, 2016

What AGI-Rome Has Meant for Me

During the week in which I had studied abroad for AGI-Rome I had the unique opportunity to have received a first-hand understanding of various fields within human trafficking and refugees. I have learned many life lessons during this week that I will apply to both my professional and personal life. Of those there are three main points that have impacted me the most in my professional career growth. First is the understanding the necessity for NGO’s to work together while maintaining their own short and long-term goals. Second is understanding how “accompaniment” is utilized by many agencies to help with service delivery. Third is receiving a better understanding of the different types of refugee classifications and how the different classifications require different services of help.

Prior to coming to Rome when I thought about the refugee crisis happening in Europe I would read news articles about the hundreds of thousands of people in refugee camps that are in in unimaginable living conditions and the hundreds of people that were dying at sea trying to flee their native country. I had this overwhelming feeling that the whole refugee crisis was being mismanaged. After spending a week in Rome and meeting with local NGOs I have quite a different view of the crisis. It appears there has been some quick decisions made by the government that has had some adverse effects. However there are many agencies that are working diligently within themselves and with other agencies on developing short and long-term goals to help with the crisis.

According to
Merriam-Webster  dictionary, accompaniment is “to happen or occur at the same time as or along with (something)”. Some of the agencies we meet embrace this idea of accompaniment at every level of interaction with refugees by working side by side with refugees to provide the help they need. For example, we meet with two agencies, Centro Astalli and Centro Ascolto Caritas, that have opened centers to provide services directly to the refugees; such as medical, legal, education, housing, showers, meals and laundry. Other agencies we meet with that are helping refugees are JRS International, UNHCR and IDLO.

It is becoming more and more difficultly for agencies to provide the necessary services to refugees due to of many factors. One of those factors is the addition of new laws and the changing of existing laws around the different classifications of a refugee. For me learning and understanding the difference between an immigrant, migrant, refugee, asylum seeker and internally displaced person (IDP) has helped to understand the difficulty in service delivery. The agencies know that as an individual entity they cannot provide all the necessary services. In order to provide the most efficient services it is necessary for multiple agencies to work together.

During our short time in Rome we had the opportunity to meet and talk with a refugee. He shared with us his incredible story of why he had to flee Kenya to seek asylum in Rome. His story put into perspective the difficulties refugees face and to show how important it is to have agencies like Centro Astalli and Centro Ascolto Caritas to provide direct services to refugees to.