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#PFPGlobalUnity: Maza Club in Genoa

As Olympia Theodoli, founder of Crete for Life, and certified trainers Swati Bhatt and Agyat Mitra planned their trip to mentor AMAL Play for Peace Club youth, one more question came to mind: “What else can we do?”

Olimpia got an idea to connect Swati and Agyat with Frederica Lazzarini, founder of the Wonderland Association, from Genoa, Italy. The Wonderland Association works to motivate refugees who have suffered loss and are struggling with displacement. The uncertainty and fear of their future caused many refugees to lose motivation to anything, only attending Italian classes because they were mandatory. Frederica says that lack of direction and lack of motivation can become a comfort zone or a self-preservation mechanism, which can drastically affect our well-being.

The situation in Genoa was specific, since there is a large male population in the camps. Most of the people at the Genoa camp are not running away from war or violence in Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Rather, they are coming from African countries to create better lives. Swati and Agyat also met people coming from Libya, who were all immigrant workers from Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and had escaped the horrors of war in Libya.

With Frederica’s support, Swati and Agyat conducted a two-day workshop in Genoa, in the beginning of July, hosting participants from 11 different countries: Mali, Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Italy, USA, Brazil and India. In the first session, they facilitated 30 participants. The facilitator team included three refugees, which was an extra responsibility, but a very good idea. This was the moment when another PFP club was successfully founded, now known as Play for Peace Maza Club in Genoa.

Currently, Frederica is trying to build a community of people who can support work with refugee people through the Wonderland Association and a partnership with Play for Peace. Swati and Agyat were accepted by people in the camp, who even prepared food for them and invited them for lunch. Swati and Agyat happily recall their time in Genoa:

"One thing we learned while working with displaced people was to work here and now. It is important not to take for granted participants who come to the session. They may stay for the whole time or they may leave in between. It is important not to judge either them or ourselves. We have to understand that they have a different reality. What attracts them can also be a distraction. It can remind them of possibilities, get them in touch with emotions that challenge their pain and their loss. There were participants who came in for a short period of time and left. But what is important—they did share with Frederica how valuable that experience was for them.”

We are thrilled to welcome the Maza Club to the Play for Peace family and are so thankful for the selfless work Swati and Agyat continue to do.