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PSYCHOLOGY AND FORCED MIGRATIONS

FORCED MIGRATION AND THE JOURNEY

The journeys forced migrants undertake entail, for the great majority of them, a series of extremely difficult stages, which expose them to violence and risks. All along the journey the most common emotion, as migrants themselves say, is fear. Subsequently, all their energies are dedicated to the search of a place where they can finally feel protected and safe. Once arrived here, the men and women we meet in the interview sessions start giving personal meanings to what they went through. These life stories become part of a baggage of experiences to which people give a shape and a meaning, so that in the future they can become part of themselves, of their family, and be passed on to the next generation.

 

THE FAMILY RELATIONS

The migrants we meet in the context of the psychological service we offer, are often dealing with the difficulty of being separated from their family, friends, and community networks. Building and maintaining trust-based relationships with people who are important to them, even though far away, may entail having to deal with situations of conflict and misunderstanding emerging from expectations about the migratory experience, from different ideas and representations about the destination country, and from things that have been left unsolved or unsaid at the departure.

 

THE HOSPITALITY AND SOCIAL INCLUSION PATH

Forced migrants describe the steps that lay ahead of them in the destination country as another journey, even though different from the one they have just completed. Once in Italy, they need to learn a new language, figure out the complex legal procedures and paperwork needed to obtain the residency permit and, in general, interpret the explicit and tacit rules of a context which is completely new to them. To this, one must add the need to get orientated in the job market, and to find a job that will allow the person to gain the economic resources needed to become self-sufficient.

All these challenges demand a good amount of commitment and patience. They often cause frustration, dismay, sadness, and the feeling of not being in control of one’s own life.

 

LONELINESS

Through the challenges they face in the destination country, these people try to redefine their position in the new society and in the world. This new position contributes to enriching their identity, stretched between different belongings, different languages learned, places lived, experiences and roles embodied. An experience shared by many forced migrants is that of loneliness, caused by the separation from their families and communities, but also by the difficulty of building new relationships - both friendships and emotional relationships - in the new place, relations able to include that side of their identity which has grown and developed in the new country.

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