Three insights on migration: Jane, our Welfare Officer

The Scalabrini team works with migrants and refugees every day. With such deep expertise at hand, we take the opportunity to reflect on migration with them. This month we speak to Jane, manager of the Welfare Programme, who finds beauty in the productivity and resilience of her clients, despite the hardships they face.

1. It takes a migrant to truly understand migration
As a migrant herself, Jane understands the journeys that her clients have been through. ‘Being a migrant from another African country, I think clients feel that we can relate with them’, she says. ‘I think they feel more comfortable with me, because I understand what it means to leave your family.’

2. Working with migrants will teach you the true meaning of resilience
Although Jane’s job is to assist migrants and refugees, they too have lessons for her. ‘My clients teach me about resilience’, Jane explains. ‘They risk their lives, their families – and they don’t even know where they are going to. They just go.’ The Welfare Programme see a range of clients, from those in extremely vulnerable positions with multiple needs (such as sick, elderly and disabled clients in unstable living conditions) to those that need guidance on accessing services. The response provided by the team depends on the needs, once the client is assessed. Jane recalls a specific case that illustrates resilience. A woman approached the Welfare Programme in desperate need: she was sick, unable to speak English, and with nowhere to sleep that night. With the gradual assistance of her team, Jane watched the client bloom into the woman she is today – a successful business woman, running her own restaurant. ‘We have been on a journey with her, and she has shown us her courage and resilience.’

3. Migration is an opportunity, not a threat – and we need to shift our mindset
Having worked in the migration sector for a decade, Jane has developed expertise in working with vulnerable migrants. Simultaneously, Jane watches as the South African government restricts migration. ‘We need to start perceiving migration as an opportunity. There are so many migrants that are bringing productivity to South Africa. I see that as an opportunity, not as a threat.’ Jane appreciates the richness of migration; she sees it in her work every day. For her, harnessing the potential of migration in South Africa is a missed opportunity – that South Africa, and her people, are missing out on.

About the Welfare Programme
The Welfare Programme assists clients with various basic needs – from clothing to hospital access. The Welfare staff assess clients’ needs and finds a sustainable way to assist, encouraging the client’s independence. To find out more, or make a donation, please email, or call us on +27 (0)21 465 6433.