Literati Café: Your pain gets easier when others talk about it*
Croatia currently finds itself in a specific situation in comparison with other countries in the European Union. It is the youngest member of the European Union and it borders with European countries which are not a part of European Union, more precisely Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its responsibility is to protect the Schengen area. That is a big task for such a small country. A migrant route which leads to the countries the migrants/refugees want to reach has been established through Croatian territory. Croatia most certainly is not among those countries.
That is why, on the one hand, we can constantly hear the non-governmental and international human rights protection organisations complain about the behaviour of Croatian police towards the migrants. On the other hand, there is a pressure of the European Union to strengthen the border. There are also organisations in Croatia that deal with refugees, their accommodation and possible integration, which state that most of the refugees still leave Croatia and does not want to exercise their right to asylum in Croatia.
My great wish was to make an event which would truly bring another point of view regarding the situation of refugees in Croatia, or their passage through Croatia, different from what we hear from the media every day. I wanted to familiarise the participants with the history and culture of the countries the refugees come from through cultural form and in that way reduce the prejudice and stereotypes about the refugees.
I chose a group of people for whom I know that the refugees are not a priority in their everyday business, but they all volunteered in events regarding the socially excluded people at some point in their lives.
I chose the form of literati cafe, which proved to be effective in creating sympathies and interest for refugees and countries they come from. The moderator of the event was Ms Petra Jurlina, NEPC, who has experience in working on such events and who creates a comfortable atmosphere while moderating.
We chose a significant date for our literati café, the Human Rights Day, and we gathered around 15 people. Each person had a task to prepare a short presentation on one of the writers or poets from the countries where most migrants come from and pass through Croatia. These are primarily Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria, including some African countries as well.
We read Adonis, EW Said, Nizar Quabheni, Salim Barakat, Khaled Hosseini and Tariq Ali. We also discussed about other authors from that geographical area. We chose those authors who have migrant experience and wrote about it. Following our discussion, each participant gained some new point of views and learned to respect and understand the refugees even more.