The situation in the country of our eastern neighbour is extremely difficult. Thousands of mothers and their children have crossed the Slovak border because of the war, and despite the fact that Slovakia is a transit country for many of them, tens and hundreds of them remain in our city. Their integration takes time and requires a commitment of capacity in our institutions. In Syntax, we decided to join forces with OZ Mareena and together we developed a plan to support the integration of both children and adults. We defined three key areas – Understand, Grow and Interact, based on which we developed a set of activities for refugees. Our colleague, Zuzana Regecová, who has taken on the role of Ukraine Aid Coordinator in our company, will tell you more about this assistance.A
Why Syntax helps is probably clear to everyone. Many people – volunteers, but also institutions and organisations have got involved in helping Ukrainians on the run. Which area and why did the company focus on?
As with other community activities, our primary goal is to educate not only children, but adults as well. It is through education that we would like to help Ukrainians to integrate, to get to know their surroundings and our mentality. We see three areas we want to focus on when it comes to integration:
Understand – get to know a new environment, language, way of thinking, be listened to, understood.
Grow – find new ways of self-development that will help you build your education or help you better enter the job market.
Interact – build friendships and a community that helps each other.
Within these three areas, we have also divided the activities we would like to organise.
How was the connection between Syntax and OZ Mareena born?
OZ Mareena peeked out at us from social media and we were immediately drawn to the main pillars of their work: education, community activities and spreading awareness about migration. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Mareena has been working intensively with people coming to us from Ukraine, not only with material aid, but also by improving the conditions under which they stay in our country. Since this association has a lot of experience with people from abroad who have chosen to live in Slovakia and knows their needs, we decided to reach out to them.
What specific activities do you plan to implement in the above-mentioned integration areas?
First and foremost, we would like to help people from Ukraine to better orient themselves in their new environment. We would like to show them around the city, organize trips to the surrounding area, we will also support Slovak language courses. But we would also like to show Ukrainians that they are welcome here and that we would like to get to know them. That is why we will try to organise events where we will introduce them to a bit of our culture, but we would also like to get to know theirs. One of such activities would be a joint preparation of Slovak and Ukrainian dishes, or a day with a programme for children and mothers. In addition, we want to help adults to better apply themselves in the labour market, so Syntax in cooperation with Mareena will organize courses in basic computer skills or English courses for all age groups.
How will the Ukrainian children and mothers who will participate in the activities be approached or selected?
The coordination of people from Ukraine is under the auspices of Mareena, which cooperates with other civic associations and non-profit organizations not only in Slovakia, but also within the Visegrad Four. These organisations are gradually building a community and organising activities and assistance.
What are the biggest challenges with this form of aid? Can other people, companies or institutions get involved? Who can they contact?
As Mareena works with several non-profit organizations and civic associations, the challenge will be to coordinate on all fronts: volunteers, organizations, Ukrainians themselves. Anyone who decides to help can register as a volunteer directly on Mareena’s website; Syntax staff have a Mareena group in Microsoft Teams where they can report on individual activities, which we will keep you informed about there.