Community Project Mareena
Bratislava, Nitra, Košice
Type of Information
Michaela Pobudová (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
The community project of the civic association Mareena focuses on the integration of migrants and refugees in Slovakia through the activities of community centres in three cities—Bratislava, Nitra and Košice. Community activities are the focal point of the project, which has three main components:
- Assistance in the integration process, through a volunteering programme
- Diverse courses and counselling activities
- Space for locals and foreigners to meet and get to know each other via community activities
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
Slovakia has one of the smallest migrant populations among European countries. Xenophobic, anti-migrant, and anti-Muslim attitudes are prevalent, in addition to negative attitudes towards refugees. These negative attitudes are often reflected in the limited services for refugees and low level of support for their integration in the country. Lack of community activities and relatively low knowledge about migration and integration contribute to the situation.
Mareena attempts to fill these gaps by helping to build relationships between the majority and migrants and refugees, increasing inclusiveness and cohesion in Slovak society, and offering additional support in order to make integration easier.
How does it work
One of the key principles of the project is to support relationship-building. Mareena connects migrants and natives in Slovakia in order to make everyone feel they are part of society and help develop their potential. The project has three main components.
Mareena offers a diverse portfolio of regular and special events at community centres. These include smaller events like cooking ethnic cuisines, brunches, movie evenings, or larger events such as Mareena Fest or Mareena at Dobrý Trh (a community festival in Bratislava), where migrants participate in organising the event.
This initiative trains volunteers to work with refugees and help them start a new life in Slovakia through integration activities tailored to specific needs, such as language teaching, career mentoring, support in social adaptation, communication with institutions, among others.
Education and professional development
Mareena provides language courses and vocational trainings, such as computer skills or sewing. Some of these courses are also taught by clients of Mareena (e.g. Arabic language and cooking).
Over the last two years, Mareena has attracted a high level of interest from both the target population (migrants and refugees) and from the native population.
- Mareena has 43 active volunteers: 1 in Nitra, 15 in Košice, and 17 in Bratislava
- Volunteers have contributed 2,508 hours of service: 396 hours in Nitra, 990 hours in Košice, and 1,122 hours in Bratislava
- There have been 6 rounds of selections and trainings for volunteers, two rounds in each of the three cities participating in the project.
Courses and workshops
- 170 lessons given on various topics
- 95 have students attended courses
- 32 workshops were organised
- 33 community activities and 3 bigger events took place in Bratislava, 4 in Nitra, and 2 in Košice. More than 850 visitors have taken part in these events.
The project is regularly reviewed and evaluated internally. The evaluation is done through collecting feedback from organisers and participants and is used for internal purposes only. Evaluations may be quantitative or qualitative.
Who will benefit?
Key beneficiaries of the community project are migrants and refugees living in the Slovak Republic. The local population benefits through participation in community activities (such as brunches, language courses, community cooking, Mareena Fest, and others), meeting people from other countries, and getting to know more about them and their lives.
Mareena is mainly active in the cities of Bratislava, Nitra, and Košice as most of the refugee and migrant communities in Slovakia reside in these cities. However, given its large network and team capacities, Mareena is also capable of implementing these activities in other parts of Slovakia.
Source of funding and Resources used
The project is funded from diverse resources including private donors, foundations, and through crowdfunding. Donors include Porticus, ESET, Accenture, Volkswagen and Swiss Re.