Senegal : Fashion designers honoured and social links strengthened for better mental health of returning migrants
Kolda - On the occasion of the International Migrants Day scheduled for Sunday, December 18, 2022, the country office of the International Organization for Migration in Senegal (IOM Senegal) in partnership with the General Directorate of Support to the Senegalese Abroad (DGASE) and the European Union (EU), organized the final event of the Fashion show initiated on the sidelines of the Green Job Fair held from 21 to 24 November 2022 in Tambacounda. This unique activity will also focus on mental health and psychosocial support for returning migrants through a psycho-education session for vulnerable migrants invited to take part. *
The fashion show is an artistic, socio-relational and cultural activity entirely carried out by migrants, with the main objective of helping them to realise their own potential while showing their families and communities that they can work productively and that they are capable of carrying out positive and impactful activities.
To this end, 15 returnees, including textile designers, dressmakers and stylists selected from 34 participants who took part in the pre-selection phase held on 23 November, competed to win the prizes offered by IOM. Prior to the final of the "Fashion show", a collective psycho-education session was organised with the migrants in order to support them in their daily management, by identifying with them positive strategies aimed at reducing the stress of reintegration and even some of the anguish resulting from their migratory journey. With the aim of contributing to the strengthening of the resilience process of these returnees, there was an exchange of ideas on the best ways to strengthen social ties. This session was able to nourish the migrants' hope in their socio-professional future and their feeling of belonging to a socio-cultural group, key factors favouring well-being and psychosocial reintegration.
Langbaro DIADHIOU, a returning migrant, stylist and fashion designer who presented his creations at the Fashion show said: "We are delighted with this initiative, which has enabled us to meet up with our peers to exchange and share our good practices, but also to show those around us that we are capable of succeeding by developing our potential at local level. It will also help to strengthen our credibility and status in our communities and fight against the prejudices we face. "
Whatever their reasons for leaving, migrants and displaced persons pass through spaces of vulnerability and become targets of marginalisation and community stigmatisation. On the way to irregular migration and sometimes even before departure or on return, they are exposed to traumatic incidents that have important consequences on their psychological integrity, emotional experiences and daily functioning. However, most of these so-called normal reactions after one or more abnormal or inhumane events are not irreparable and diminish over time. The International Organization for Migration attaches particular importance to supporting the improvement of the psychological well-being of returning migrants.
As Emilie SEPULCHRE, IOM's expert in mental health and community psychosocial support, explains: "The fashion show is a creative approach that emphasises aesthetics, where the individual and collective strengths of the selected migrants are put in the spotlight. The stimulating effect of the event is a symbolic step on the long road back to dignity". It is in this perspective that twenty returnees who have already received mental health and psychosocial support from IOM have been invited to this activity.