The Breath of Hope project is supported by the municipality of Amsterdam and is an initiative of Road of Hope that aims to support newcomers in vulnerable situations in Amsterdam. The focus of this project is on “empowering” women by providing opportunities for reflection on their sense of life, for interaction and coexistence with the local community and for re-identifying their feelings and traumatic experiences, given the already vulnerable situation of newcomers becomes even more worrisome in light of the pandemic that has hit the world since December 2019. As an organization that has always responded to humanitarian crises, the Breath of Hope project will also focus on addressing the impact of the coronavirus on the mental health of refugee women.
Our experience is that emotional support is an essential part of successful integration. We believe that the more integrated and empowered the woman is, the more she will positively influence the integration of her family, especially her children. Therefore, empowerment of newcomers is critical to better engagement. In this project we deal with highly personal and subjective issues that require individualized attention, for which impersonal and bureaucratic service provision is not the most appropriate. With compassion and empathy, we provide activities to provide space and opportunity for refugee women to reach the level of self-awareness, assertiveness, autonomy and resilience that will allow them to take back control of their own lives. As soon as the refugees restore their emotional competences and regain the feeling of belonging to a social group and the Netherlands, their quality of life and mentality will also improve. As a result, it will become possible to build new affective relationships as well. Promoting community involvement where newcomers themselves play the leading role in their integration paves the way for harmonious togetherness and contributes to the well-being of all.
Our participants play an active role in the development of the activities and themes covered. Our aim is to involve them as much as possible in the leadership for the benefit of their sense of autonomy, self-worth and independence. Breath of Hope has 4 activities: Home visits – in order to build a relationship of trust with the participants, and to offer emotional support. Reflection groups – a safe environment in which there is room for emotional care for socialization, mutual support, and the provision of moments for reflection of experiences and feelings through various activities. Regular meetings – is intended to create space for exchanges and conversations in a relaxed atmosphere. This is also intended to build a sense of belonging to a group and to encourage identification with the Netherlands. Workshops – Thematic workshops where participants, possibly together with people from the neighborhood, can learn and teach about relevant topics.