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At Lost in Europe we have been reporting on the lives of unaccompanied child migrants for four years. This year we want to deepen our understanding of their lives. In the year up to the 2024 European Parliamentary election we want to tell their stories in new rich and compelling ways. We are creating a digital storytelling resource using audio and layered visual material to build a picture of the young people's lives, aspirations and struggles as they turn 18. Using portraits, interiors, landscapes and ephemera, some acquired through collaborative and participatory methods with those taking part, we will give them the opportunity to celebrate their story so far. We will return to them regularly over the next year as the continent prepares for election. In a climate of economic hardship brought on by COVID with swirling nationalism, we at Lost In Europe fear it is the lives of these people that will suffer as States engage in a race to the bottom in terms of their treatment of 'illegal' migrants.

This project is called The 18 Project

For the 22nd day of our Advent Calendar, we are happy to share some news: we are launching our The Project 18 website in january! We will announce the official launch via our social media and within our newsletter. 

For now, we are sharing four articles, written by Marlies Rothoff. She interviewed multiple migrant teenagers in the Netherlands who turned 18. What changed in their lives? And how were they prepared for their 18th birthday? 

The first story is about Farhan. His anniversary was on the 1st of January. ‘I celebrated with friends, but I didn’t tell them it was my birthday.’ He doesn’t understand why so many people value birthdays so much. He did not get any presents. ‘My guardian gave me a hand to congratulate me, does that count?’ Read the (Dutch) article about Farhan here

The second story is about Emilia. Emilia was in Brazil with her grandmother on the day she turned 18. Her final exams are approaching and she was stressed. from eight o’clock up until 9 o’clock in the evening she was at school, learning. Without pies and gifts. ‘I did not had any need for it at that moment.’ Curious what happened with Emilia after turning 18? Read her story here (in Dutch). 

The third story (in Dutch) is about Qianlei. In his apartment in Rotterdam stood a small cream cake on the table. Qianlei blew out the candles in front of his parents and little brother. ‘As a child you learn that you can make a wish if you blow out all the candles.’ Qianlei is now 22 years old. ‘I have been making the same wish for four years. That my situation will ever be okay.’ 

The fourth story is about Deborah. She celebrated her 18th birthday on December 18, 2020 at the asylum seekers' center in Arnhem. At school, she quietly celebrated with her closest friends. They brought small gifts and pastries. Back at the AZC she ate cake with her father and mother. Deborah thought it was a difficult day, she didn't want to pay too much attention to the fact that she was really growing up now. Read more (in Dutch) about Deborah via this link

There are many more stories to be told. The 18 Project will shine a light on the wrongdoings of minors who are approaching their 18th birthday.

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