Democracy Camp 2018 harnessed migrant leadership and movement building
The Immigrant Council of Ireland was delighted to host the second ever Democracy Camp, a 3 day intensive training offered to migrant leaders across Europe. Held this weekend (12-14 October) in the seaside town of Malahide, in the Grand Hotel, the training was organised by a group of trainers across Europe and the United States.
The purpose of the Transatlantic Migrant Democracy Dialogue is to harness migrant leadership and building of migrant-led movements across Europe. It’s an opportunity for peer learning, information exchange and to sharpen expertise – it’s also a chance to work alongside like-minded, determined, passionate change-makers and have a lot of fun! The training attracted migrant leaders from 50 nationalities resident in Europe.
The training was divided into five thematic areas of interest including, alliance building, community organising and leadership development, community navigators, electoral participation and communications.
The alliance building track was aimed at training participants on how to build alliances with key allies, assemble a coalition to take action and the challenges of balancing a diversity of wants and needs. Community organising and leadership development training explored different 'paths to power', best practices for successful campaigns and how to identify issues to take action on based on needs hopes, desires and resources of the community.
Community navigators focused on how to change traditional service techniques to better serve migrants. It also explored and discussed a programme which empowers women migrants with legal training to strengthen communities. Electoral participation focused on the 'immigrants’ pathway to power'. This involved how to build migrant voting power, including the roles of non-migrants, through civic engagement programmes leveraging stakeholders and other effective methods. The trainers suggested building a database for elections in order to be effective in the strategies. Lastly the communications track discussed how to use communication techniques to strategically move campaigns, build alliances and demonstrate wins to stakeholders.
After the intensive training, participants felt inspired and alive with ideas and skills they received from the training.
Luciano a community leader from Monaghan said, “I feel empowered by the training but most important I am re-affirmed to continue with the work we are doing with other migrant leaders in Monaghan.”
Sandra Ruiz from the Migrant Women United said, “It has been fascinating and moving to meet other migrants from all over the world and to hear about their projects."
Stephen, another participant from Dublin, said, “The training was well organised and the trainers were committed and very resourceful. This made me feel very encouraged, rejuvenated and stimulated with the new ideas I learnt."
One thing is for sure, the training will harness migrant leadership and develop advanced skills required to mobilise and initiate a migrant-led movement across Europe.
We've no doubt the incredible participants will continue to address issues of inequality, discrimination and racism in their work. They will foster positive change through dialogue and the development of effective policy for social inclusion and cohesion for future migrant generations.
It was an enriching weekend for everyone involved and we're looking forward to building an alliance with participants going forward. This year’s democracy camp was the second to be held in Europe. The first one was held in Hamburg – German in 2017. It is a partnership event involving Migration Policy Group, National Partnership for New Americans and the Heinrich Bӧll Foundation North America, in coordination with the German Federal Network of Migrant Organisations, the Greek Refugee Forum, Immigrant Council of Ireland, Migrants Organise UK and Moniheli ry (Finland). Next year’s democracy camp will be held in Greece.
by Stephen Ng'ang'a