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Parenting can be difficult, and more so in outside of your home country. Passage aims to support parents and professionals in related areas.
Revathy Menon, one of the co-founders of Passage, stopped by the Home Stretch to talk with Melissa about the group.
As an expat parent on the move, Revathy has lived, worked and raised her two children in five different countries and has gained insights into many of the common problems faced by international parents. Thus, in 2013 after discovering many other parents were struggling with similar issues in Luxembourg, she decided to start the parent support group along with with fellow parents and co-founders Lynn and Mei.
Ten years after their founding, Menon says that they are still a voluntary group rather than a formal organisation. But this certainly hasn't stopped them from pooling together a wealth of information, and establishing a strong network of support for parents.
Expat needs differ
Parenting as an expat - or immigrant, if you prefer - is necessarily a slightly different experience to bringing up children in your home country. One of the primary reasons for this are that you are unlikely to have as strong a support network around you, with extended family (and the ever so valuable grandparents) generally too far away to be able to offer regular support.
There is also the question of accessing information - whether it's about the local education system, daycare, nursery, child support, medical assistance, or welfare, it's not always obvious where one should look. Menon notes that all of this becomes "doubly challenging when you're living away from your home country ... where you don't know all the local languages ... when you are seeking specific help or assistance."
This is one of the areas where Passage seeks to help parents. They do this in part through a fantastic collection of informative articles on their website, and in part through the social networking part of their work which brings parents together to share information with each other.
The latter takes the form of exchanges via their website and on their Facebook page (invite only), and in part through regular support group meetings, seminars, network evenings, and workshops.
Navigating the education system
Menon points to Luxembourg's education system as a particularly common area of confusion among expat parents.
"I don't think the issue was so much with availability as it was to actually find out where these places are, or who the people are who can help us. Primarily because of the language, and also becomes we're all coming from different cultures and different systems of education. The Luxembourgish system of education, the local system, is rather complicated for a newcomer. It takes a little understanding to navigate it. Of course, they are trying to simplify it now considerable, and they are making more resources available in English: but for anyone who steps in here brand new, it's hard.
Because you are trying to put your best foot forward in a new society, and you don't want to be judged, but you know there's going to be a lot of problems along the way and you want to find a space where you can find the kinds of assistance that you need without feeling embarrassed, troubled, or lost and alone. That's basically we want to be: we want to be that space where parents can come, share their problems or their successes, and we can collate all of this together and become a resource for other parents."
And indeed this is an area where Passage has collated a wealth of information for parents on their website, through a dedicated section on education.
If you would want to know more about Passage, make sure to go listen to the full interview here on RTL Play or via the player above. Don't miss out on more interesting interviews on RTL Today Radio.