In this activity, we met the first family of refugees, which came from Syria and a few refugees from Bangladesh. We decided to bring some girls from Instituto Monsenhor Airosa – an organization that helps girls with troubled past. Instead of promoting the meeting between the refugees and the girls on the final event, we thought it would be interesting to make them interact from the beginning. This decision made all the difference. Both helped eachother a lot, even with the language differences. There was a familiar environment which helped a lot on the first step of integration. Even the vice-mayor of Braga showed up.
During the next days of the activities, we went to the meet other families of refugees. One family from Congo and another one from Ukraine. We spent seven mornings and afternoons meeting them and interacting through the practise of board games. They played, they learned and they made their way on teaching how to play them.
The biggest difficulty was already expected: some of them did not speak portuguese or english well. We easily understood that the games would not only be a tool in this project, they would be the key, once, not few times, we communicated through them with the refugees.
This process took days and it became interesting to see that both the girls at risk and the refugees found similarities between their own lives and the actions that were part of the games. And since there were several different kinds of games, there were many different skills developed through the different events.
During this process, we got in touch with several different media representatives, including newspapers and radio who made us the prime subject of their reports.
As the name of the project became a household name in the Braga and the board games’ communities, several associations from other cities offered their services to reply the project, which generated the chance to have some meetings with the goal to find funds.
As the project approached its ending, the Integration Game joined forces with some associations of Braga in a campaign for gathering toys and games to offer to the most needed children. Since the hardest moments we faced on the events of the project was to come back home not leaving the games to the children, we took this as a chance to thank them for all we’ve learned with them, in which we were helped by the girls from Instituto Monsenhor Airosa.
The project ended in a high note with a meeting between the several participants on the project with the refugees having the chance to teach what they have learned. In the end, all the participants agreed they have learned a lot more than just to practise board games.
This project brought us the chance of developing more activities with the goal of integrating refugees/migrants in the local community environment, as well as local people whose previous years have been surrounded by trouble. During the final event of the project, we all brainstormed about the possibility of teaching the same publics on how to make movies, with the goal of making a documentary or a fictional movie that mixed their realities. This movie would be presented at the 1st Let’s Play Festival which will occur in Braga, in October of 2018.