‘Cooking’ integration: Caritas’ recipes for welcoming societies

Geneva, 30 May 2018 - How can communities prepare themselves for the ever-challenging encounter with “the other” — the refugee, the migrant, the stranger? A new toolkit by Caritas Europa helps communities and individuals willing to give the adventure a try.

One of the contributions that Catholic organizations working with migrants can make is fostering “a culture of encounter, accompaniment, dialogue and hospitality.”

This reminder, echoing Pope Francis’ “signature concept” — which has given food for thought to journalists and theologians alike — came from Dr Anna Rowlands in her keynote address to the recent International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) Council Plenary Meeting in Rome.

A welcoming society allows migrants to play an active role in their host communities. But concretely, how do you foster a “culture of encounter” in everyday life? The new Recipe Book for Integration: Prepare Yourself and Your Community for the Encounter is a practical, solutions-oriented toolkit providing information and suggestions to do just that.

Published by Caritas Europa, it includes basic steps to create spaces of encounter between local citizens, services and stakeholders, and migrants and refugees. The “recipes” seek to address biases, stereotypes and everyday practices that distance migrants from local community members by drawing on positive experiences already implemented at the grassroots level.

The toolkit has three parts. First, facts and figures about migrants in Europe seek to counteract the negative discourse dominant in this field. Second, practical explanations drawing on intercultural communication and anti-bias concepts present some useful tips for engaging in successful communication and intercultural dialogue. The third part illustrates promising “recipes for encounter” collected from local Caritas organizations.

The toolkit is a call for action to create spaces of encounter where people can share their history, concerns and wishes and so build human relationships. A welcoming society allows migrants to play an active role in their host communities by guaranteeing equal opportunities, respect of fundamental rights and human dignity, and curtailing discriminatory practices and stereotypes.

The toolkit, a contribution to Caritas’ campaign “Share the Journey,” is currently available in English, Spanish and Croatian. If you are interested in translating it into your national language, please contact Caritas Europa.