Welcoming refugees - In Sweden it's just called Scouting

Friday, November 24, 2017

People fear the unknown and fear making mistakes, creating barriers to positive change around the world. For Scouts - the world's greatest change-makers - this is not a problem, because when faced with a challenge they do what they do best - they lead.

When thousands of refugee children started settling in Sweden fleeing war, violence and danger, Scouts up and down the country started to ask themselves this question: What can I do to help? Letting their values based leadership take control, Scouts quickly admitted that they are not experts in crisis management or infant psychology, and that they cannot process these 'newly arrived' citizens, but they can offer something extremely valuable, something the other actors in society cannot offer, 110 years of experience, youth development and of creating community leaders through the simplicity of learning by doing. In one word, they can offer Scouting!

Image arriving to a new home, in a strange country where people are talking an unknown language, after a difficult journey and possibly without your family to support you. You would be extremely lonely and what you would want the most is a friend. And in Swedish Scouting they have 70,000 friends.

Through the joint Messengers of Peace and HM Queen Silvia's Foundation Care About the Children project 'Scouting and Guiding with refugee youth', Scouting has provided a short cut to inclusion for hundreds, if not thousands of newly arrived children. This has helped to open the door to friendship, language learning, understanding, building relationships and ultimately to belonging somewhere again.

The project has enabled Scout groups all over Sweden to get to grips with the complexity of the situation and the important role Scouting plays. By welcoming the newly arrived children as new members of Scouterna, thus allowing them to benefit from the same activities and programme as all Scouts, these children are being prepared for a future of leadership, adventure and citizenship be it in Sweden or back in their home countries. And just like all Scouts around the world, when they are faced with a challenge in the future, they will be ready and they will be prepared.