Ballafon social cooperative, which is engaged in the widespread reception of asylum seekers in the province of Varese, Italy, has carried out ten pilot activities for the INTEgreat project until the end of April 2024. All ten activities have had a significant benefit on the target group, bringing concrete results to asylum seekers.

For this article Ballafon chose to present Activity 7, which was carried out in collaboration with Crinali cooperative, who provided the training, trainers and mediators. The main objective of the activity was accompanying families on a path that makes them responsible from an educational point of view in line with the developmental stages of their children. There were 16 beneficiaries in total, eight mothers and eight minors aged between 10 months and 5 years.

The meetings were managed by a transcultural psychologist alternating with a transcultural educator, who are both experts in parenting support for children in the age range between 0 and 6 years. They were supported by a Nigerian and an Ivorian mediator. Furthermore, 3 meetings were scheduled with the operators who follow the women in the Ballafon reception centres.

The meetings were aimed at reflecting on parenting in migration, the different ways of managing children in particular contexts and the different approaches of spending time with children through speech, discussion and play activities. The expectations and cultural differences between the beneficiaries and the operators of the Ballafon reception centres were also a topic of discussion.

The meetings considered the importance of cultural specificities of migrant mothers in the care, growth, and education of their children. Migrant women are bearers of educational practices and behaviors deeply embedded in culture and tradition. During the migratory process, these women may find themselves faced with new educational methods, generating feelings of loss and insecurity. To encourage their insertion and adaptation into the new reality, it is suggested to enhance their skills and knowledge, while at the same time accompanying them in an adaptation process that respects their cultural origins, allowing them to modify some practices and attitudes without forgetting their cultural origins.

In a multicultural context, it is essential to encourage dialogue and comparison between different cultures, avoiding taking for granted or even imposing one’s own models of parental education top down. Therefore, it is important to have targeted meetings to understand difficulties and observations of migrant mothers and their expectations from the social workers and Ballafon operators. The activity has facilitated the creation of more stable relationships, coordination with other services, such as schools and educational institutions, counteracting prejudices against migrants.

Overall, the collaboration with Crinali cooperative was successful and had a positive response from the mothers. The expected result of the activity was enhanced integration in nursery school and in the different phases of school education, greater respect for local rules and customs, better and easier functioning of society and better social cohesion of the families and their children.