We follow the story of Pamela, a nurse from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), whose hardships in South Africa became more manageable through Scalabrini’s Welfare Programme.
From Congo to South Africa
Pamela, a trained nurse, fled the DRC because it was too dangerous for her to stay. As Pamela explains, ‘to stay in the DRC is difficult. I’m not talking about other people, I’m talking about for me and my husband. To go back is not easy for us’.
Pamela fled to South Africa with no English skills and no money. As South Africa’s economy is larger than that of DRC, Pamela expected that she would find a way to support herself. “I thought that if you go to a country that has many things, that you too can have things.” But even in South Africa, “we only had enough for food and paying rent. We didn’t have much more than that.”
Unemployed and desperate to support her two children, Pamela approached Scalabrini in 2015 for assistance. “The first thing I noticed here was the way people communicated with me, asking me how I was and making me feel like I could put my faith here.” Pamela was referred to English School, where she passed through four levels.
“The first thing I noticed here was the way people communicated with me, asking me how I was and making me feel like I could put my faith here.”
Following English School, Pamela was referred to AMKA, a series of workshops and sessions in a collaboration between the Employment Access Programme and the Welfare Programme, designed to raise self-esteem and promote self-resilience amongst vulnerable refugee women. “They give people energy,” explains Pamela. “They show you how to stand by yourself and how to have the courage to achieve your dreams.” Following AMKA, Pamela was supported through a six-week hospitality course, following which she started looking for a job with the assistance of the Employment Access Program. After a short-term job at a guesthouse in Brooklyn, Pamela heard of a position in the Scalabrini Guesthouse. Following interviews, Pamela was offered the position and has been working there ever since.
Steps to building a life in South Africa are slow and small, but Pamela remains positive. “Scalabrini and the people here like Fortune, Papa Etienne and Jane gave me courage. Before, I had big challenges, now I have peace in my heart and my child has food.”