Assistant professor Marit Heldal at QMUC has long experience working with refugee children. She is concerned that preschool children in refugee camps don't get enough attention.
- First and foremost refugee children are children, says Assistant Professor Marit Heldal from QMUC. - It is vital that we create a solid environment where they can play with other children. They must be allowed to enter a fantasy world and create their own reality, a reality that is far better than the reality the adults have created for them.
- We know the importance of the early years in a child's development. It is vital that the competence of kindergarten teachers will befall the refugee children. A kindergarten teacher has, among others, an unique knowledge of collaborating with parents, of children's mental and physical development and of the importance of friendship.
When their parents become traumatised this will affect the children, she continues. - A good kindergarten teacher will be able to create a feeling of structure for the child that has lost it all. He or she will be in dialogue with the parents and strengthen the family over time.
They are also trained to work together in a multidisciplinary way, which is helpful in situations where many of our known framework is set aside.
After av visit to Lesvos in Greece Heldal raised enough finances to build the nature kindergarten Mikros Dounias
in 2017. Mikros Dounias is situated in the refugee camp Pikpa, Lesvos Solidarity Camp. She then founded the organisation "Gjengen i ryggen", to help with the running costs. The pedagogues are local, but several of the staff and students of QMUC have spent some time there. The children are both local children and refugee children.
Mikros Dounias values and emphasizes nature and outdoor pedagogy and aesthetic activities. It is a safe space for children living in transit, and a gathering place for people of any background.
Heldal has gained a lot of recognition for her work with Mikros Dounias. She was also one of the winners of the prestigious World OMEP
prize: The 2019 Education for Sustainable Development Award.