The Culture and Fears of Asylum Seekers –The Municipality of Lajkovac

Exhibition titled titled "Far world in the small town" was opened in the gallery of KC "Hadzi Ruvim" in Lajkovac on Friday 26. of October 2012. The organizers of the exhibition are Asylum Protection Center APC/CZA from Belgrade and Art club of Cultural Center. Asylum Protection Center APC/CZA is the organization that has been porviding legal aid to asylum seekers since the beginning of asylum system in Serbia, providing as well psychological support conducting cultural, creative, health, empowering and other workshops with asylum seekers.

The exhibition is organized with the support of the Cultural Centre of the Municipality of Lajkovac and asylum centers, the Commissariat for Refugees of the Republic, the Red Cross and with the assistance of all the people who participated in the workshops, who are coming from different countries, from Ethiopia to Avganistan. On behalf of the Asylum Protection Center APC/CZA from Belgrade Rados Djurovic, coordinator of the center, opened the exhibition:

"We decided to organize this exhibition, bearing in mind its significance to the local community, that people can get to know each other: the citizens of the local community can be informed about the phenomenon of migration and culture of asylum seekers, and asylum seekers can meet local customs and traditions as well. We decided to do it first in Lajkovac bearing in mind the character and the positive nature of the citizens of this region, and their welcome attitude toward asylum seekers. I would like to recall that there have been no problems since asylum seekers came in Bogovadja so we are expressing our sincere gratitude to citizens of Lajkovac on behalf of the asylum seekers. The aim of this exhibition is to break the prejudice, if any, to inform people about this phenomenon and to draw attention on it. We believe that people who are in the transit (because rarely they will stay here) must be familiar with the local culture and environment, and they are doing so: some have already learned Serbian, some were even baptized, and some will try to enroll their children in local elementary school."

The author of exhibition, pedagogue Jovana Vincic, who led the workshops with asylum seekers together with a psychologist Jelena Jovanovic, said:

"The works were created during workshops with women and children asylum seekers. The first part is introductory and photographs evoke the memories from Iran and Afghanistan, the second part are the conditions in which asylum seekers were until they reached the asylum centers, while the products from workshops are presented through photographs, products and working in various materials. These are not pieces of high artistic value, and for us that was not a goal we were striving to, more important was the process in which those objects were made, and their presentation in the local community. Drawings on the tables reflected the current emotional states of participants, connected to the different fears. Women asylum seekers as the most common problem induced difficulty of keeping the family together, there are also photos of Taliban figures and police officers who were made in clay and later destroyed because it was a way for women to define and face their fears."

Two short movies, which were made in Serbia, were presented to the audience. One of them was shown at the United Nations and reflected the problems of children migrants.
Women from Somalia were painting with henna on the hands of interested visitors, which is a traditional technique in that country and Afghanistan. In two weeks, the exhibition will be organized in Belgrade, and then in Banja Koviljaca and Loznica.

FaLang translation system by Faboba