Published: 2023-10-03 21:02
Last Updated: 2023-11-28 19:36
Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah visited the Conway Education Center in Belfast Tuesday, where she met with a group of asylum seekers, refugees, members of the local community, and representatives of the Belfast City Council to learn about the experiences of displaced people in Northern Ireland.
Speaking to a group of asylum seekers, including children, from across the Middle East and Africa, Queen Rania noted the important work the city and people of Belfast have done to support their refugee community, adding that their ongoing commitment speaks volumes about their “generosity of spirit.”
Her Majesty commended the Conway Education Center for providing a lifeline to refugees and asylum seekers, not only through education and training opportunities, but also by providing a space where they can build friendships, regain their sense of community, and find “a new lease on life.”
She also described the successful integration of refugees into countries of resettlement as “difficult to quantify,” because it gives them a sense of dignity and belonging, which in turn helps them become productive members of their new communities.
In 2015, Conway Education Center introduced a number of programs to serve the city’s growing refugee population, including English language classes, a homework club for primary and secondary school students, and an annual summer school for refugee families. Run by teachers and trained volunteers, the programs aim to help refugees integrate into the community.
Based on the feedback of refugees participating in its courses, Conway recently launched a capacity-building program to help adult refugees build on their existing skills and enhance their independence. Supported by the Belfast City Council, the program offers accredited English language, ICT, and advocacy training, as well as parenting courses.
In addition to participants in Conway’s various programs for refugees, the meeting also included members of the Art Route Collective, an initiative launched in 2016 to promote artistic and cultural activities within Belfast’s refugee and asylum-seeking community.
Established by ArtsEkta, a local organization focused on community-building and cultural diversity, the Art Route Collective consists of a group of men and women who meet regularly to discuss their experiences as asylum seekers and to develop their artistic talents. The group has produced a variety of creative works, including a recipe book featuring dishes from the members’ different countries of origin.