Mentorship for refugee women

In the premises of the association, in the third place Les Amarres, in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, Haneen, a young Palestinian refugee who arrived in France at the end of 2020 finds her mentor, Sandrine. Holder of a French diploma in her country of origin, Haneen wanted to resume her studies in France but she soon ran into difficulties.

“When I arrived in France, I was completely alone. At first, I arrived with a temporary work visa. I worked as a language assistant with National Education.”

“In Palestine, I studied English and French. I wanted to continue with a Master’s degree in France but unfortunately it was not accepted… My Palestinian training does not correspond to studies in France, so I was in difficulty. I just needed advice on where I could go to go back to school. Sandrine was always there to listen.
Even when the mentorship program ended, we stayed in touch.”

Six months of support which enabled Haneen, who wishes to become an interpreter for migrants, to move towards a university degree provided by Inalco. With Sandrine, her mentor who is a translator, they exchanged views at least once a month, face-to-face or remotely.

“Even if we didn’t see each other every month, we also had a lot of exchanges by phone or email. We attended, for example, a picnic organized by the French Society of Translators, which allowed Haneen to meet colleagues who work in Arabic, which is not my case. She needed advice that corresponded to her language combination. We went to the University for the presentation of the library, so as to meet the university context and make contacts.”

A research-action project

“Haneen said she wanted to feel useful. When you accompany someone, you feel useful too. Each meeting is rewarding.”

This mentoring, organized in pairs between a mentor and a mentee, was set up after an “action research” survey carried out by the association which highlighted the particular difficulties encountered by these refugee women, often already qualified, to continue their studies. This is an important issue for their integration and there are many more of them than you might think, explains Andee Gershenberg, program manager.

“We know that worldwide, nearly half of graduates are women. Knowing that in France, women represent 40% of people under international protection, there are necessarily many of them here. We really want to inform people about their rights in terms of resuming studies. We were able to identify four main difficulties: the language barrier, gender as such, difficulties in accessing a network, both personal and professional, and administrative difficulties in universities.”

In two and a half years, 120 women have been supported in this way. If you wish to become a mentor, you can contact the association

Unite.

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