Jesuit Refugee Service, aditus Foundation and Integra Foundation collected testimonies of 92 rejected asylum seekers in Malta for their research, but along the way they found some powerful stories about the migrants’ will to belong. These people applied for asylum, but Maltese authorities have deemed them unworthy of protection. Yet when their countries of origin did not provide documents for the migrants to return, they stayed in Malta for numerous years without a legal status.

According to Kristina Zammit, who presented the research the 16th of December, these migrants were striving to be productive and recognised for their contributions. “Thirst to learn and better themselves was very much there,” she said. Some of the migrants’ stories are now available as video interviews on the three NGOs’ campaign website, This is Home. Stella David, for example, shares what she likes about coming to the Chinese garden with her friends.

Speaking about his experience on the panel, Sarjo Cham from Guinea Bissau remembered that he enjoyed opportunities to make friends at a football club in Marsa. He was playing on equal grounds with the locals, until one day his lack of documents reminded him of itself – the club was invited to Italy, and he was the only one unable to go. “I have money to go with them. The only thing I don’t have is a travel document,” he regretted.

Sarjo Cham speaking at the campaign presentation

In parallel to this research, Jesuit Refugee Service has completed an international project “I Get You”, where they collected stories of informal migrant integration in neighbourhoods, associations or small groups. The project shows how working together has enriched the lives of migrants and Maltese communities that receive them. In their speeches online and on the panel, migrants expressed heartfelt appreciation for their friends and communities, but reminded the audience that all of this can fall apart easily when legal certainty is not there.