Family Hosting: A Pilot Project of Integration and Solidarity in Malta

MOAS has recently launched the Family Hosting Project, an innovative initiative through which families residing in Malta can welcome migrants into their homes.

The pilot project was initiated by MOAS to overcome the difficulties encountered by refugees and asylum seekers in Malta in finding accommodation and in the process of integration. Government reception centers have limited capacity with a maximum stay of  one year. After this time, former residents often face a difficult and restricted rental market, with little support for financial stability and little assistance for integration. This, coupled with growing xenophobia, represents an obstacle especially for those who wish to study, improve their education, and do not have access to adequate financial and housing support.

On the other hand, several Maltese residents have expressed a desire to offer their support to refugees through activities such as private sponsorship and housing solutions. The Family Hosting Project was born precisely to connect these realities. MOAS provides assistance and mentoring to interested families and to participants in the family reception project. In devising this initiative, MOAS drew inspiration from similar projects that have been launched in Italy and the United Kingdom, such as the Italian Caritas “Refugee in my home”. MOAS_Sweets_delviery_SD-32

The project is currently in its pilot phase: a young family with two children residing in Valletta has been hosting Samuel, a 21-year-old asylum seeker from South Sudan, for several months. Samuel lives at home as a full-fledged member of the family, receiving room and board, and in this way he has the opportunity to engage in his study and fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor. In exchange for hospitality, Samuel helps the family with daily tasks and collaborates as a volunteer with MOAS for projects on the island. MOAS conducts regular monitoring meetings with both the host family and Samuel, to provide support, guidance and mediation as needed and to evaluate how the project is progressing.

 

Regina Catrambone, co-founder and director of MOAS, says: “With this project, MOAS wants to facilitate long-term integration and inclusion and support the development and independence of migrants within the local community. Welcoming a refugee person at home is the right way towards a more open and inclusive society, a way to overcome prejudices and mistrust. Hosting a family for migrants is an important step on the path towards autonomy, because it helps them feel part of a community and invest in a long-term life project. An enrichment always arises from the encounter between two often distant worlds, both from a human and cultural point of view “.

 

An Interview with Samuel

We spoke to Samuel, the current participant in the pilot project, to discuss his experience:

How is your life in Malta right now? How did you get involved in the project?

My life here in Malta is quite good. I am very happy with this family. Before I moved in with them, everything was complicated, especially because I was deprived of support. I didn’t have a job and I was dependent on the subsidies that AWAS (the government body for the welfare of asylum seekers) gives to migrants. When they stopped, the situation became really tough – I couldn’t even afford drinking water. I was looking for a job and thought I had to drop out of college. Then one day I gave an interview to the Times of Malta, which the family and the director of MOAS both read. Subsequently, we began to communicate together and the family offered me support and hospitality thanks to the mediation from MOAS.

How is family life now?

My life today is so different from that of a year ago. Things are going great. I get everything I need. The family is really good, they support me and help me. They are good people. They respect me and I respect them a lot.

What are your responsibilities at home?

I often do laundry. I take care of children like an older brother. I like doing it because I need the experience and I want to learn new things. The next thing I want to do is learn how to cook.

How are your studies going?

My studies are going well, there are excellent teachers at MCAST. I like to go there because it is full of young people to meet. My favorite subject is biology, I find it really interesting.

What are your hopes for the future?

I want to continue studying and dream of becoming a doctor. If I don’t succeed, I would still like to work in the medical field or in an industry that helps people. My main focus is education. If I don’t study, my life won’t change. I want to turn my life into something good, positive. In the future, if I have a family and children, I don’t want them to go through what I have been through.

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