In their green scarves, the district mothers are starting to become a familiar feature at Araby in Växjö. For a few months now, they have been walking around the area to be the support they themselves had needed when they came to Sweden. They also address the concerns about young people and drugs in the area.
The project began this spring with a preparatory education where women got to learn everything about how to contact authorities, healthcare, schools, housing companies and where to find socially useful information.
Twelve women are now voluntarily involved, which was also the goal, and ten of them live in Araby. Most come from Afghanistan and a couple from Somalia and Sudan. Together they represent the languages Dari, Persian, Arabic and can therefore support each other in helping people in the area.
Committed to helping fellow human beings
Problems they encounter among the residents are mostly about communication with doctors, difficulties in booking appointments and problems with the children or the husband.
– It is noticeable that we are needed. It feels good to be able to help others, says Sahar, who despite living in Lammhult knows “everyone” in Araby. During her six years in Sweden, she has built up a large network of contacts and can communicate well in Swedish. As a district mother, she also receives good language training, something she needs for the job that awaits in elderly care this autumn. A nursing education is soon completed, despite the stress she experiences in having sole responsibility for two children. In addition to a little Swedish, she also speaks Persian, Dari and a little Arabic.
Alexander Willstedt is project manager at the Institute for Local and Regional Democracy (ID).
– The women are committed and positive, they want a lot and see a value in helping others with difficulties they themselves have had. I believe that they fulfill an important function as a bridge between citizens and authorities. It will be a horizontal dissemination of information, from neighbor to neighbor.
The most important thing is to help young people choose the right path
Robabe is also from Afghanistan and lives in Teleborg. She has also been in Sweden for six years.
– I myself have learned a lot since I came here, now I want to help others. I had trouble talking to the dentist, he pulled out a tooth unnecessarily.
She says that parents who have problems with their children and young people come to her to talk. Many mothers are worried about the widespread use of drugs in the area.
-The most important thing in Araby is to help young people who are 13-16 years old to choose the right path. It is difficult, they do not listen to their parents but to other young people. Someone has to tell them what is right and wrong, says Robabe.
Attend more meeting places
According to Alexander Willstedt, the ambition this autumn is to create different meeting places so that more people can meet the mothers.
– We invite to meetings in the boiler center every Friday afternoon, but the hope is also that other social meeting places will receive them when the restrictions are now eased.
The idea for district mothers originally comes from Germany and Denmark, but it is the positive results from similar projects in Helsingborg and Stockholm that Växjö has taken inspiration from.
The project, which is owned by Växjö municipality and financed by §37a funds through the County Administrative Board Kronoberg, is ongoing throughout the year. Then it should be evaluated. If it turns out well, it is possible that a permanent organization will be established in the Arab area. Also participating in the project are Växjöbostäder, Victoria Park, the tenants ‘association Region Sydost, the Citizens’ Office, Arabys Aktiva Familjer and the Institute for Local and Regional Democracy.