The project “Bizilagunak: La Familia de al lado” started in 2012, and the idea is to gather migrant families and Basque families together. The project operates on a local area, focusing on building relations among families within the same neighbourhood; the final goal is to build a net of connections that will strengthen the feeling of belongings, encouraging acceptance and social cohesion.
Anyone can take part in the project, not just the traditional family unit. In the enrolment process, households state whether they want to host or to visit, and additionally to indicate the language spoken, food preferences, allergies, pets etc. After the enrolment process, households are paired and mediators inform the families about each other. During the paring process the organizer takes care to pair similar families.
On the day “de la comida”, the host household will cook a meal and will welcome the guests. A mediator will be present and will coordinate the session until everyone feels at ease. Once the ice is broken, children will play together while parents will get to know each other’s culture and habits. However, the mediator will monitor the gathering, possibly giving language support in case of misunderstandings.
The project conveys the idea that we are all Basque citizens. These intercultural connections fight prejudices and stereotypes, while bridging the gaps between foreign-born people and natives. Simultaneously, this project fosters social inclusion among neighbours, leading towards a harmonic cohabitation. In a word: equality.
The project has grown in popularity throughout the years; for instance, in 2012, 65 meals took place, whereas in 2014 more than 230. More importantly, families continue to see each other even after the meal, this willingness to keep the relationship going is the witness of the success of this project.
“The Next Door Family” project offers a perfect excuse to gather together around a meal, in one of family´s house, in their private area; an incredible opportunity to exchange stories, experiences and get to know each other in a relaxed environment