This has been a year of intense positivity and negativity for migrants and refugees in South Africa.
During 2019, we have been reminded that through negativity, lessons can be learnt – and positivity is given a stronger chance to emerge. In September, we witnessed another spate of xenophobic violence. Aside from dealing with its traumatic consequences, we reengaged with the complex nature behind xenophobia – and the equally complex solutions to addressing it. We welcomed examples of nuanced and positive journalism (like a piece on South Africans who are standing up to xenophobia in their communities and those negotiating truces with perpetrators). We’ve completed substantial work with the media and the way in which xenophobia is reported on – and so we welcomed these counter-narrative stories. The violence also instigated a renewed approach in addressing xenophobia and listening to the realities behind it – rather than a knee-jerk reaction, which can be damaging. We concur that addressing xenophobia requires long-term integration programmes, whilst addressing issues in local power structures and the accountability of perpetrators of violence. This learning has driven much of our thinking behind the evolution of many of our programmes. For example, the structure of our UNITE youth programme, or the integration elements of our English School and Women’s Platform. This thinking has also contributed to the way in which we interact with the media – and with over 160 appearances in national and international media this year, we hope to continue to contribute to a better global understanding of migration matters.
As South Africa witnessed this turmoil, the internal environments created by Scalabrini became increasingly important to our clients. The nurturing and caring settings created by the Men’s Development group have blossomed, bringing together men from all walks of life to empower each other.
We have seen hundreds of students graduate from the English School, many graduate from carpentry school, and hundreds of people finding work with support from the Employment Access Programme. UpLearn has added a structured teaching section to its programme, and individualized academic coaching to support the blended learning model. I salute the six Bachelor and eighty two Associate graduates.
It seems that 2020 will usher in new challenges and opportunities. As of 1 January 2020, new laws n respect of asylum seekers and refugees in South Africa came into effect. The Advocacy Programme is concerned; the new laws are restrictive and undermine the rights of asylum seekers and refugees in South Africa. We plan to react, in all the different spheres of Advocacy’s skillsets and outputs, to these new laws.
Harsh realities continue to face many refugees and migrants in South Africa. Despite this, we witness clients use their hardy resilience, resourcefulness and momentum to build a better lives for themselves and for those around them. Within this context, we hope Scalabrini is seen as a safe hub – from which people can develop, grow and integrate, and move together towards a stronger South Africa.