Zonta Clubs of Vienna I and Ploiesti helps immigrant children integrate

On 2 December, the Zonta Club of Vienna I, Austria, welcomed members from the Zonta Club of Ploiesti, Romania, to the country for its "Inclusion of Children Affected by Migration" symposium. This meeting is the fourth edition of the clubs' "Educational Management Strategies" collaborative initiatives.

During the symposium, the clubs found it to become quite related to practice as five Ukrainian teachers, connected to the club through a German Language Course they sponsored, took part in the discussions by sharing their experience from the ground. Some of the teachers are parents and were able to provide for their children through the Bildungsdirektion Wien program, also known as "Education Vienna" in English. Realizing that many immigrant children from Ukraine will struggle to transition to a new country and culture, Education Vienna helps them integrate into Austrian society through a step-by-step program and later blend them into a joint class with Austrian children. But more than that, the program also provides Ukrainian language and cultural courses to help children retain their cultural roots.

This program was inspired by a Romanian professor who launched a series of integration projects for refugee children in his community. Integration is challenging and needs much support. Since Ukrainian refugees are primarily mothers and children, they often become the sole breadwinner and cannot support their children appropriately due to work obligations. A particular problem is caused by many adolescents who abandon school and start to work without being qualified, often ending up in illegal employment, where they can easily be exploited. By launching an integration program in their communities, the clubs hope that at least the refugee children can return to school and graduate.