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‘If I Have A Family I Don’t Want Them To Go Through What I Went Through’: Refugee In Malta Participating In Family Hosting Pilot Project

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A pilot project for family housing in Malta is currently underway to help refugees and asylum seekers better integrate in Malta.

The project, led by MOAS, has seen Samuel, a 21-year-old asylum seeker from South Sudan, move in with a young family with two children residing in Valletta.

“Before I moved in with them, everything was complicated, especially because I was deprived of support,” Samuel said.

Samuel recounted how difficult life was prior to participating in this project, detailing how at some point he could not even afford to buy drinking water.

“I didn’t have a job and I was dependent on the subsidies that AWAS (the government body for the welfare of asylum seekers) gives to migrants. When they stopped, the situation became really tough – I couldn’t even afford drinking water. I was looking for a job and thought I had to drop out of college,” Samuel detailed.

His fate changed when he one day had an interview with Times of Malta about his situation, which was read by both the family and the director of MOAS.

“Subsequently, we began to communicate together and the family offered me support and hospitality thanks to the mediation from MOAS,” he said.

A year down the line, Samuel’s life is much different compared to what it used to be, and he expressed his gratitude for these changes.

“My life today is so different from that of a year ago. Things are going great. I get everything I need. The family is really good, they support me and help me. They are good people. They respect me and I respect them a lot,” he said. 

In exchange for the hospitality, Samuel helps the family with daily tasks and collaborates as a volunteer with MOAS for projects on the island. He also spoke about his responsibilities within the household, how he often does the laundry and takes care of the children as an older brother would.

“I like doing it because I need the experience and I want to learn new things. The next thing I want to do is learn how to cook,” he said.

The 21-year-old is also currently studying at MCAST, and his dream motivates him to one day become a doctor or work within the medical field.

“I want to continue studying and dream of becoming a doctor. If I don’t succeed, I would still like to work in the medical field or in an industry that helps people. My main focus is education. If I don’t study, my life won’t change. I want to turn my life into something good, positive. In the future, if I have a family and children, I don’t want them to go through what I have been through,” he whole-heartedly expressed. 

Residents at government reception centres can only reside in the facilities for a year at most, meaning that many face a multitude of challenges, from lack of financial stability to a restricted rental market.

The Family Hosting Project was initiated by MOAS to overcome the difficulties encountered by refugees and asylum seekers in Malta in finding accommodation and in the process of integration.

The project also aims to help Maltese households who are interested in providing support and housing for refugees, with MOAS providing assistance and mentoring to those interested.

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When Sasha (formerly known as Sasha Tas-Sigar) is not busy writing about environmental injustice, she's either shooting film or out at sea. She's passionate about society and the culture that made her. Follow her at @saaxhaa on Instagram, and send her anything related to the environment, art, and women's rights at [email protected]

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