With the SamenDoorSamen programme (‘TogetherByTogether’) the Mano Foundation aims to encourage the independence and participation of refugees holding residence permits in Rotterdam. ‘This programme is special because it is tailored to the needs of the participant,’ explains the former participant Lubana Hanifah.
For the last 16 years, this foundation has been committed to supporting vulnerable Rotterdammers who have difficulty participating in society. In 2015, when many people fled to the Netherlands, notably from Syria and also Eritrea, project coordinator Daphne Hebing and programme manager Lieke Galbraith joined forces with the question: how can we provide all these newcomers with a warm welcome? Their answer was the SamenDoorSamen programme. Hebing: ‘We started straight away with one-on-one counselling, additional language classes, introductions to the city and offering them workshops as well as expanding their social network. Today, six years on, we have developed the programme in line with the target group. We start with the question: What do you really need in order to become a full member of Dutch society?’
‘We start with the question: What do you really need in order to become a full member of Dutch society?’Daphne Hebing, project coordinator
At present, an average of around 300 beneficiaries take part in SamenDoorSamen annually. The programme is divided into three subsequent pathways, in accordance with their entry level. Through SamenStarten (‘StartTogether’) in Rotterdam, those who speak little or no Dutch are able to study the language with easy access language lessons and coaching. On completion of the course, they will have reached a sufficient level to be able to enter the SamenActief (“ActiveTogether”) programme in Rotterdam. Along with a buddy, they will acquire language skills, undertake daily activities, develop a social network and identify the practical prerequisites necessary to build a life in Rotterdam. During the follow-up programme SamenaandeSlag (‘GetToWorkTogether’) in Rotterdam, participants are prepared for education or employment. ‘In addition, they can also participate in several supplementary courses, focusing on computer coding or entrepreneurship, as well as networking activities,’ says Hebing. ‘Working with role models, or ’empirical experts’, is also becoming an important part of our programme.’
One such role model is Lubana Hanifah. It was six years ago that she and her family fled Syria and came to the Netherlands. ‘At my children’s school I met Daphne and she helped me find a reading buddy. Within six months I had reached language level A2, because I was very motivated to participate in society.’ In Syria, Lubana had trained to be a chemist, however, finding work in this field was no longer an option for her after she had developed asthma. In order to find out which type of job would suit her, she took part in the Future training course and, along with a coach from the Mano foundation, developed a step-by-step plan. ‘I started an Accountancy degree at college, but unfortunately I was forced to stop because of personal reasons. However, I did complete a course in accounting.’
Through SamenDoorSamen, Lubana has improved her social-communication skills and has expanded her social network. Since then, she has been working as both a volunteer and as an assistant teacher. Lubana’s dedication has not gone unnoticed. She received a job offer from an accounting firm, and the Mano Foundation was also interested in her. Currently, Lubana works for the foundation as project secretary for sixteen hours a week and as an empirical expert for eight hours a week. Lubana is one of many Mano employees with refugee backgrounds. Lubana: ‘People are much more receptive to us. I have had similar experiences. We have been trained in how to deal with psychosocial problems, but still, when you encounter a powerful story, it touches on your heart.’