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This article is just an insight of the impact of interpersonal connection and activities of our team in the psychological well-being of asylum seekers and refugees.

“It’s not like I am not aware about working with clay, is more like I never had the chance to work something similar or to create my own jewelry tray. Also … My jewelries were burned years ago!”, was one of the first comments from an asylum seeker woman when we first started to explain on how to work with air dry clay as an opening to our “Jewelry Tray” workshop with asylum seeking women in Asylum Center in Magurë/ Magura, Lipjan/ Lipljan Municipality.

Leaving the country and seeking their home somewhere is the foundation of their life. Traveling for weeks, months and years through different routes, difficult mountains and dreaming of a tent/room of refugee camps or center. These workshops are not a cure for their suffering, but they represent a moment of peace, an escape from their worst thoughts of unforgettable experiences.

Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of torture (KRCT) team in partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Prishtinë/ Pristina has organized the first workshop with asylum seekers with air dry clay in Asylum Center in Magure.

Our services and activities with asylum seekers and refugees for almost a decade now are in their essence a tool to impact positively wellbeing and psychological condition. Similar workshops of various nature are organized weekly; they are a fresh and new way for asylum seekers to start believing that this world has better things to offer.

Asylum seeking women and young girls participated in the jewelry tray workshop. A table with unknown working tools, four different languages and meaningful stories, represent a normal working day for our team but not an ordinary day for women and girls traveling a lot in pursuit of a better life.

More than nine jewelry trays were created with all their favorite colours and shapes. Working with air dry clay requests lots of effort, vigilance, time and patience. It wasn’t a bother to them; instead it represented the most peaceful four hours of their life that they haven’t had the chance to experience in a long period of time.

“My husband was killed years ago he left me and my child in a terrific pain. I got married years later and now I have another child with my new husband”, was instantly shouted out from one of the women while working with the clay and in a middle of the surrounding silence. There were no questions asked toward her or any other in the table; we just ended up listening to an Arabic song presented from the young girl and coloring the shapes of the trays we were almost finishing.

The group is there to listen the stories that are hard to say at any other time. The group is there about pain and silence, love and acceptance, building trust and giving space. Creating meaningful art with other people in a room remains a safe way to speak the unspeakable, to remove the heavy burden on their shoulders. Art have always helped us to communicate easier with this vulnerable group and to give space to express their self without boundaries.

These types of activities impact not only the overall psychological well-being, but also the personal growth of these women. They motivate women and girls to develop their skills and empower themselves and each-other.

KRCT team jointly with UNHCR will continue organizing activities of this nature and provide psychological services on daily basis for asylum seekers in Kosovo.

KRCT, September 2020

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