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  • Writer's pictureKyle Kvamme

Dive deep with ORAM's Inclusion Team on their latest training workshops in Poland 

Updated: Mar 29


Pictured: The first "Supporting Displaced LGBTIQ People in Humanitarian Settings" training session in Warsaw, Poland, on February 28th and 29th.


Fresh off launching ORAM's new inclusion training program in Poland, Adam McNally, Inclusion Specialist, and Aras Orgen, Capacity Strengthening Specialist, reflect on the first three sessions across the country.


"The last four weeks have just been such a rollercoaster in the best possible way," Adam said. "It's been this continuous learning journey sharing a space with individuals who are a catalyst for social change. It's just been incredibly humbling to be in the same room as these people and to hear their different experiences." 


The workshop "Supporting Displaced LGBTIQ People in Humanitarian Settings," facilitated in collaboration with UNHCR Poland, harkens back to ORAM's previous work in Europe in the organization's early days. "ORAM has previously conducted training from 2012 onwards," Adam shares a few days after his last workshop in Lublin, Poland.


Why now is ORAM bringing humanitarian inclusion training to Poland? "Due to the increase of displaced persons within Central and Eastern Europe, there's been a growing demand to sensitize how different organizations work with and support LGBTIQ displaced persons," Adam explained.    


"LGBTIQ people exist, regardless of the influx [of people] after a war. Maybe it can seem invisible, but we know that LGBTIQ displaced people exist, so for them to reach support is necessary," Aras added.   


Pictured: The second training workshop in Wroclaw, Poland on March 11th and 12th.


Additionally, growing racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia in the region prove the critical need for these types of training.


"For a lot of organizations [the training] is one of the few opportunities to engage in meaningful discussions around LGBTIQ inclusion as it remains a stigmatized issue in Poland," Adam shared. "There is this heightened need to build upon these sensitizations and look at different innovative ways of working with local organizations to enhance inclusion for LGBTIQ displaced persons in support services in this region," he said. 


When Adam and Aras began developing training materials, bringing the lived experiences of displaced LGBTIQ persons in Europe was essential to them. “We conducted a needs analysis to determine the challenges facing stakeholders working with LGBTIQ displaced persons and what topics they would like featured in the training," Adam said.


As they prepared the training materials, Adam and Aras worked hard to make it as inclusive as possible. Respecting cultural sensitives and the incredible work done by communities on the ground, we partnered with local organizations and key stakeholders from the region because they understand cultural sensitivities that we might not be familiar with. We did this by working with a local trainer and researcher in the design and the delivery of the training, prioritizing the use of community spaces, translating our materials into Polish, providing real-time translation, and collaborating with local caterers,” Adam shared.


"Our intended audience was local refugee-serving organizations and LGBTIQ organizations, which includes collectives, activist groups, and individual queer activists as well," Aras shared. "We also had participants from staff of international humanitarian organizations, including people from district municipalities and protection officers," he added. 


The team explains the structure of the two-day workshop: "The first day is to build our approach. It's more focused on understanding inclusion, intersectionality, and specific legal protections for LGBTIQ displaced persons within an international and local context," Adam shares.   


"The second day is focused on bringing those skills and practical elements to look at the specific protection needs and risks and understanding how to conduct a protection assessment for an LGBTIQ client you might have," he said. 


After discussing practical examples and case studies, the trainees formed groups and created stakeholder maps of services for LGBTIQ displaced persons in their area.   


Pictured: The third training session occurred in Lublin, Poland, on March 21st and 22nd.


Having the workshop occur over two days created a positive experience for the participants. "You have more time to build meaningful connections with other trainees in the workshop...the level of engagement is increasing, and the contributions from different members of the group get better as the two days progress," Adam explained.   


Reflecting on a highlight from the experience, Aras appreciated the care the participants showed when reflecting on real life experiences. "The openness of some individuals who want to learn more is touching because I know people are working on this. It's not like people are left alone," he shared.  


For Adam, a major takeaway is that for many participants, this is their first time having open discussions about LGBTIQ identities in a professional space. "Somebody emailed me a few days ago saying, 'Thank you for the training. ' At the bottom of their email, they included their pronouns, and it was their first time including their pronouns in their email. It's simple steps like that that can have a meaningful impact," he said.   


After diving deep into all the material and insights from the training, Adam and Aras look forward to continuing the work of ORAM's Humanitarian Inclusion for LGBTIQ Refugees Project. "Our capacity building initiatives will start soon," Aras shared. "For that, we will reach out to organizations to check how we can support their work on the ground more effectively and create safe spaces for LGBTIQ displaced persons," he added.


Adam alluded to more training workshops soon in other Central and Eastern European countries and shared insights about the project's research component. "We are currently conducting interviews and focus groups. A lot of data collected from this research will continue to inform our training program," he said.  


As their reflection concludes, Adam and Aras express immense appreciation to the nearly 60 participants of the past three training workshops. They shared, "We're grateful to those doing incredible work on the ground every day."

  


Donate today to support ORAM's humanitarian inclusion efforts. 



  



 

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