Keeping Our Humanity – For We Were Strangers Once

In January 2020, some 70 participants from 15 European countries gathered in Malmö, Sweden, for a Future Search exercise, focused on migration, integration and social sustainability.

It was days of hard work and intense conversations, mapping our common history, identifying our most pressing concerns and seeking ways to move forward together.

The people in the room were practitioners with receiving communities and grassroots organisations; refugees and migrants in transit and established in a new homeland; actors from religious and civil society NGOs; representatives of governmental and inter-governmental bodies; politicians and policy makers; media and communications professionals; youth; and religious leaders.

A first draft of a set of principles as a common ground for action was agreed upon. 

"This Network Makes Me Stronger"

Amloud Alamir came from Syria to Germany five years ago. Now she is in Berlin working at the journalistic platform Amal, Berlin! which publishes news in Arabic, Persian and German.

The main mission of the news platsform Amal, Berlin! where the Syrian journalist Amloud Alamir works is to inform and educate newly arrived groups about German politics and social life as an aid to orientate themselves in the new homeland. The initiative has received a very positive response, but also met resistance, from what Amloud Alamir calls extremists. Especially on one occasion, after an interview with a local politician in Berlin, there was a wave of hate comments, she says.

– At that time I felt great pressure and backed off, especially as my German is not perfect.

But the Malmö meeting made Amloud change attitudes towards the haters, she says.

– I will listen to these people. What do they want? Is there anything we have in common and might even work together against or towards? We are part of the same society and may have different opinions, but we cannot be enemies.

– I didn’t have that courage before, but this network makes me stronger and it has become clearer to me, what I want to do in my own context. 

"Realized How Difficult It Can Be To Agree On Action"

William Lundström Armah is in various ways engaged in international justice issues and participated in the Malmö meeting as representative of the youth volunteer network Agera, within the Act Church of Sweden.

Summing up the days in Malmö, Willam Lundström Armah says it was “great fun”, yet emphasizing the demanding work, where all participants were expected to be active in the discussions.

– I contributed with my perspective as a young person and as a second generation immigrant, that I am sometimes defined as. He himself has in many ways been challenged during the days:

– I actually thought we would differ more. Basically, we have similar opinions, but it was an eyeopener to me, realizing how difficult it can be to agree on concrete practical action, when everyone has different priorities and focus. I have gained an understanding of how broad the advocacy work on these issues needs to be. There is not only one way to solve the challenges of the society, we will have to find many ways.

When asked how it was to meet and work in an interreligious setting, William takes a moment to think and says:
– It may sound as a cliché, but what I take with me is that we are so similar when it comes to what we dream of and what we want to achieve in life.

Maybe It's About Being a "Hope-timist"

Rev Dr Sivin Kit, serving with the Lutheran World Federation as the Programme Executive for Public Theology and Interreligious Relations, reflects on the gathering “Keeping our humanity – for we were strangers once”.

Future Search – Gather the Whole System in One Room

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Ph D Sandra Janoff led the group through the five steps of the entirely interactive Future Search Method that was chosen for the meeting. It gives the participants the chance to have purposeful dialogue, exploring many facets of the challenge. In light of the big picture developed by all those present, the participant is given a chance to formulate next step action proposals for his or her particular areas of concern.