World Refugee – Day 20 June 2018

Theme for the day: ‘The years of refugees are not accumulated by numbers but by pain, sorry, disappointments…’

According to StatsSA, in 2014 there were over 65,500 refugees and 230,000 asylum-seekers in South Africa. It was also estimated by Leggett (2003) that in Hillbrow, almost 25% of migrants are foreign-born.

Observed on 20 June each year, The United Nations’ (UN) World Refugee Day aims to honour the courage, strength, and determination of women, men, and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

To mark this important day and to highlight the strength and plight of many refugees in Hillbrow, the Outreach Foundation together with Lucsa Diakonia, organised a  dialogue amongst migrant youth and school-going children in Johannesburg.

We created a safe open space to listen to migrant children and others. It was very successful and gave many the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and to learn about the hardships so many migrants go through.

An educator from Alpha School in Hillbrow shared the challenges they have of undocumented children. About 85% of learners are undocumented and that makes it difficult for the students and the educators.

Around 300 guests were welcomed by our young Marimba group. During the course of the morning, we had a school choir entertaining the masses. Some of our guests included a representative from the Department of Justice, Josephine, Thembi from CSVR and Federica, a lawyer from Sophiatown.

After many stories and difficulties were shared, the Outreach Foundation has recommended a follow-up session involving the Department of Home Affairs, SAPS as well as the Department of Education. There are lots of unheard stories that need to be listened to.