Baytna Hubs – a network of identity-informed and trauma-informed ECD partners
Baytna Hubs is an initiative between Refugee Trauma Initiative (RTI) and Help Refugees, supported by Open Society Foundation, to scale up a specialist Early Childhood Development (ECD), called Baytna, which has been developed within the context of the Greek refugee crisis.
The Baytna model provides high-quality pre-school educational and psychosocial support to refugee children and their caregivers, based around core values (respect, understanding, curiosity and linking) and with a trauma- and identity-informed approach. Baytna Hubs is an 18-month programme of capacity building to train and support local organisations around Greece to deliver Baytna. After a competitive application process in February 2019, RTI and Help Refugees selected three Baytna Hubs partners: Athens Comic Library, Elix, and Perichoresis.
In March 2020, as Baytna Hubs were gaining momentum in delivering Baytna, and with communities now established and regularly attending the Baytna spaces, the coronavirus pandemic reached Greece. Following government regulations related to the closing of schools and restrictions on gatherings, Baytna delivery halted across all sites. It was important to us all that we continued to support the families who attended Baytna so that they feel cared for, connected to a community, emotionally and socially supported, and still have activities to do that are Baytna-aligned. These activities and resources are being developed to be identity- and trauma- informed, and produced in different languages.
1. To start with, RTI developed psychosocial activity ideas for parents and their children, a taste of Baytna at home, which require no materials (e.g. crafts), and were shared by partners to families via translated text messages and calls. The activities were for different age groups and include valuable PSS introductions for parents. RTI also provided suggested messages in English, Greek and Arabic on how to explain centre closures to families, as well as information on hygiene activities. Feedback from families has been positive.
2. Next, the network co-created interactive resources and videos for families drawing on partners different strengths and the combined collaborative power of the network. Our aim is for members of the refugee community, such as caregivers and Baytna facilitators, to also produce videos thereby helping to ensure content is identity-informed and community-led. We have together developed fun and engaging multimedia for the Baytna community, including videos of Baytna activities (storytelling, dance and movement, and interactive songs) which families can watch at home and interact with, as well as PDFs of activity ideas in different languages and for different ages. These are being released on the RTIs facebook page and will be added to a resource section on the website: https://www.facebook.com/refugeetrauma and https://www.refugeetrauma.org/resources.
3. Finally, we are now at a capacity building stage, so that the partners themselves develop their own ideas for supporting the communities that they know best. The capacity building will happen alongside RTI continuing to send out activity ideas, and to create online resources that hubs can also share with their communities.
4. Throughout, we are seeking to understand and be led by the needs of the community and to gather feedback from them on the usefulness and impact of these activities and resources.
We would like to highlight in this practice the power of a network approach, the importance up building up local capacity, and the role of having a value-based approach which supports flexible approach adaptable to different circumstances.