Born in Eritrea, Mebrahtom has been living in Malta as a refugee for the past eight years.
With a job as a Mater Dei healthcare worker, a good command of the Maltese language and personal connections in the country, he is a prime example of a successful integration story.
Refugees are regularly filmed being asked about integration-related issues, but they don’t often do the asking themselves. By taking this initiative, Mebrahtom and the UNHCR aim to move the conversation forwards in a productive manner.
Integration can be a difficult topic in Malta, and while there are still challenges, in recent years opportunities and support for refugees have improved and so has the participation of refugees in public life.
In an upcoming Lovin Malta video in collaboration with the UNHCR which will be published on the 25th June, Mebrahtom delves into this topic by interviewing five Maltese people who work closely with refugees and migrants.
These are Fr. Bernard Micallef – Junior College Chaplain, social worker Omar Rababah, Francesca Zammit and Julienne Schembri from Teatru Salesjan, and Alex Caruana from the gay rights movement MGRM.
He learns a number of things along the way.
For example, Fr Micallef says that working with refugees has helped broaden his understanding of humanity, while Rababah admits it made him realise how privileged he was to have been born in Malta.
Caruana plays down generalisations that African refugees are homophobic, stating that none of his migrant friends stopped speaking to him after he transitioned to a trans man.
Mebrahtom also asks his interviewees about the challenges of integration – with his interviewees bringing up problems such as cultural and linguistic differences, racism, and lack of access to housing and employment.
All of them stress the importance of improving the direct contact between refugees and Maltese people, breaking down the invisible boundaries that exist between the communities.