First Bridges Built – Training for Ethiopian parents in Belgium

Our first small scale Erasmus+ project, Building Bridges: Good African parenting In Europe ended at the end of November 2022. It was a very interesting and highly satisfying collaboration with Yenetabet, an organisation of Ethiopian parents in Flanders, Belgium, and Spelenderwijzer, a Belgian organisation promoting playful and participatory science learning. The last of the 10 workshops was held in Antwerp on 12 November followed by a celebration with wonderful Ethiopian food and a real Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

The aim of the workshops was to help Ethiopian parents living in Flanders to become more confident and assertive, but to also help them revisit their parentsing practices. By training the most active members of the community and providing them with a full description of the activities, the goal is to make the multipliers. The 10 topics covered in the various workshops, emerging from an initial staff training at the beginning of the project were the following:

  1. Cooperation, trust
  2. Family values, quality time
  3. Community parenting
  4. Comfort zones, routines
  5. Gender roles and stereotypes
  6. Trauma, mental health
  7. Future memories
  8. Communication, conflic management
  9. The ideal school, parental engagement
  10. Science and learning, parents’ roles in learning

The project was a very interesting multicultural learning experience also for the Parents International trainer team. The workshops were carefully designed to celebrate the culture of participants and to show how it can enrich the environment in Belgium. Sometimes, participants needed to be nudged to belive that they are great parents as they are often told they are not doing well enough. During the workshops, the children of participants were also present, participating at a paralel workshop with our partners, popping in the parent workshops every now and again making them much more colourful and fun. For many participants the experiential learning apporoach was totally new, but they enjoyed it. They also enjoyed discussing topics related to the themes in World Café settings.

The project was well received by third parties, too. A multiplier event for intenational audiences, with 25 partipants was held in Amsterdam in on 2 September, and the approach has been celebrated as one that can be easily transferred to any other cultural environment to support the inclusion of migrant parents and their children.

There have been opportunities to deliver the training outside of Europe, to Kazakhstan in August 2022 and to Malawi in Feburary 2023.

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