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Portuguese and Irish sponsor groups share experiences in transnational meeting

ComUnidade accompanied some members of the sponsor group Chaves Acolhe on a trip to Ireland. Ana, Elisabete and Matilde traveled to the clover country to meet with other sponsor groups and get to know other realities, share experiences and learn good practices. This transnational meeting was provided by our partners Amnesty International Ireland and The Open Community, with the support from ComUnidade.

The first stop was the ecovillage of Cloughjordan, about 2 hours from Dublin, where a group of locals have been supporting a family from Syria since June, with the support of the Doras organization. After a guided tour of the picturesque village, the group was able to meet other sponsors at a joint lunch. Both groups were then able to present their progress, ask questions and share lessons learned. At the end, the family had the opportunity to talk about their journey and give their perspective on community sponsorship and how this small group, in this small village, "saved them". In the words of Matilde from the Chaves Acolhe group, "listening to the testimonies of the host families, in the first person, was very important, as we only had the reference of our host family. This made us realize that there are aspects common to all families, dispelling some of our doubts and fears."

Sharing moment between the group Chaves Acolhe and the Cloughjordan sponsor group.

Then they travelled to the village of Baltinglass, about 1:30 hours from Dublin, which already has a tradition of welcoming refugees and sponsoring refugee families. The Baltinglass group is currently supporting a Syrian family, with the support from the Irish Red Cross. It was very interesting to learn about their journey and, in particular, to be able to meet one of the members of the group who is also from Syria and who shared several cultural curiosities and good practices.

The group Chaves Acolhe meets the Baltinglass sponsor group.

These types of meetings are extremely important for sponsors to get to know each other and share stories and knowledge. Both sides were able to see that the difficulties, pains and impacts are transversal to everyone. For Ana, Elisabete and Matilde "it was very important to become aware that what really makes a difference are the people who receive and welcome, essentially with their hearts, much more than the country they are in."

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