Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The new Minister of Home Affaires

Members of WWWA came together this weekend to review achievements and the challenges in the last ten months. There was a lot spoken about in terms of successes but the one thing that dominated our discussions was the issue of the Refugee Reception Centre in Cape Town.
This was not the first time the department and its problems have taken central stage in any refugee gathering, but this time around it was all on a positive note.
I thought it is important to share with whoever is interested how refugee women feel about the minister.
Some say she is a real woman with a heart of gold, some have declared that only Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma our beloved Minister of Home Affaires could move the department from the “hell hole in Nyanga” where many refugees lost their lives and belongings, to a
“Better place” where it is now, they think the woman is a god sent savior. Sometimes it is important not to jump to conclusions, that this place in Maitland is actually a better place. Refugees generally feel that the Home Affaires department is better off any where else than in any black town ship in this province
Generally at WWWA we are of the view that peoples views are important if any kind of change needs to take place, the refugee community is relatively happy with the way Mrs Dlamini Zuma has handled issues and they believe that with all the support that she deserves she will make a difference to the departments
We also believe that Zuma has brought real change to the refugee reception centre here in Cape Town we also believe that she could not do so with out the help of the entire team that she has put together, we want to congratulate her on her humanitarian mission and to say to her it takes a woman of great courage, love, empathy, sympathy, power and great moral standing to do what you are doing.
Madame you embody all the good things that a child could want in a mother, and that a nation can want in a citizen, you have inspired us a great deal and we are proud of you.
I think you make south africa proud

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Refugees in S.A Speak 2

We continue to share our findings with you . the views of the individuals are not influenced by our peer educators or by the the work that we do in the community . We allow people to express themselves. WWWA ,OR its partners CAN not be held responsible for any of the comments made by our clients .

From S
“Getting work’ permits: waiting in queue does not help.
Finding accommodation becomes a problem because the landlord does not consider the asylum paper
To get a permanent work becomes a problem because you cannot sign a contract for 5 years while you have a permit which will expire in 3 months.
Some employers do not consider asylum seekers.
To be a refugee is always a disadvantage.
Some companies do not consider our education qualifications
The transfer of documents is very slow”

From S M

Being a refugee in South Africa

“It is good to be in South Africa because it is a free country compared to ours. The good part of it is that there are a lot of organizations open to all asylum seekers especially if you are interested. For example if it is your first time, they can help get accommodation, food and further studying.

For you to be a registered refugee you must have papers. Our cry now is that our papers are being rejected and if you go for an extension they just give you thirty days to leave the country. Why should I go back to my country where I ran away from because of politics and I know I am a wanted person? I rescued myself and escaped death to a nice South Africa. Now, why do they want me back to that place where my brothers and sisters died then severe torture?

I was also a victim during the xenophobic violence and I was beaten and my property was destroyed. Since then I have not recovered such a nose.

You can have a chance of getting a job but expired papers are affecting us much. Another embarrassing thing is opening a bank account with a three month valid paper. They accept but after three months the account will be blocked. Now I cannot withdraw. We need help or to be compensated especially us the victims of xenophobia. It is very painful to lose something from sweat worth over R 2,000 just in minutes. South Africa is a good country to all nations and please do not forget to help us. Do not send us away until Zimbabwe is fine. God bless you.”

From Jef”

“To whom it may concern.
I think being a refugee is a problem because we are having problems in getting asylum papers. I have been at Home Affairs in Cape Town to get a permit. Now they say they have cancelled the permit. You have to go to Nyanga. It is very unfair because there are corrupt security guards who are working in hand with guns and are demanding money from us. So how are we going to get these refugee statuses? There is a situation when the Home Affairs staff only serves ten people. Is there any other place where we can go to as far as asylum papers are concerned? You cannot even open a bank account without an asylum paper, and you cannot find work.

Can the Minister of Home Affairs do something before the situation goes out of hand? The Zimbabwean people are mostly affected. It is very easy to catch these corrupt security guards. You can even put on plain clothes to assess what is taking place.”

Looking forward to a positive response.

From P. N

How I am finding things to be a refugee in South Africa.

“We want to live legally here in South Africa but the situation at Nyanga Refugee Home Affairs is pathetic.

Why do people have to sleep outside Home Affairs and not get assistance? Let alone there is no help desk where you can ask for the service you need.

People are being killed by the foot-bridge as well as being mugged of cell phones.

Zimbabweans are not being treated equally here in South Africa in respect of jobs, education and accommodation.

Why are they accepting us as refugees when they are not helping us? Yet we understand they get funds from UN and NGOs.

I strongly feel we are being treated like animals here in SA. South Africans should know that one day it is going to be them with problems and they will need refuge somewhere else.”

From N S
“We are here in South Africa for seven years. We are still using asylum. Please South Africa we are told we are not refugees. Just beeze Zim is not at war. He got a virus so you are not a refugee. So what can we do? Please UNHCR help us. Can you help us remove that group of Zim people then you can start work a new system.

On Monday 15 June we were attacked by a South African from whom we rent our house. We pay everything but were thrown out in the street, by that man my brother’s cupboards his wife and children and every thing they had . . This happened something past midnight. Now we still stay here in a camp .some times there is no thing not even water to drink , if I had a choice I will go back but it is just too far without money . So help us. I am a refugee now. My paper has expired, I am not working and I am supposed to renew in PE. I do not have money to go there. So what can I do?

From M
Being a refugee in South Africa

“The major problem is on the definition of the refugee. Being in S.A. firstly on its own means that one is running away from something which is life threatening, Being economically disadvantaged is not looked at as a life threatening issue here in South Africa. If one is economically disadvantaged it means automatically you are being disadvantaged of viable source of living. To go for a year or two without work is worse than living without access to drinking water. The South African government would consider me a refugee if there is someone holding a knife towards me in my country. If I am threatened by having no access to drinking water they do not consider me a refugee. Do they not realize that life is so short and being denied of good economic life is worse than apartheid to my life and even more life threatening to me? Since then in this century did they ever experience such multitude of immigrants and yet do not realize we are also refugees. I hate the word opportunity seekers as the people of Home Affairs call us. I think that they should help us .if we go into full fledge war and kill and burn down our nation , then they agree , we are refugees , must all of Africa go up in flames ? l ask the UN what is it that they want from us another genocide ? please wake up from your slubers, go find some where else for your genocide , Zim, will not be didtroyed by your deceptions ”

At Home Affairs, Nyanga

Nom: YK
Adresse: 5 Geneva Portland, Mitchells’ Plain

« Moi, en tant que réfugie, je demande l’aide au gouvernement, qu’ils m’aident dans ceci:

J’aimerais avoir une formation, une spécialité de métier que je dois exercer et j’ai envie de continuer mes études, mais je ne connais pas encore bien la langue. Mon soutien majeur est de trouver un pour avoir de petits moyens.

Auparavant, j’ai suivi les cours d’anglais à Cape Town. Je payais le train et après quelques jours, je n’avais plus la possibilité de prendre le transport. Présentement, je n’ai pas les moyens de me rendre dans les cours, réunions ainsi que la ou on peut faire un petit plus pour nous réfugies car j’habite a Mitchells Plain ».


Monday, July 6, 2009

refugees in S.A. speak

This morning on the news we watched as scores of people were being man handled and arrested by the police in down town Johannesburg. We also listened to the reporters saying South Africa has became one of the top ten no go countries for refugees , this information brought with it mixed massages of sadness, anger and frustration .
As an organization that works in trying to make life easier for the less fortunate members of our community, one begins to wonder if this is going to be all in vain, as more and more refugees as well as the less fortunate South African who find themselves in this situation are treated like sub humans by the very same people who are meant to protect them. “If you are poor you do not deserve respect, you have no dignity, and most of all you are not human at all”. Is this the world we want to live in?
How did the poor became SO very poor any way?
In the days leading up to world refugee day celebrations on June 20, WWWA peer educators did information sharing with member of the refugee community in different service offices, like the DHA, Scalabrini Refugee Services and at the Cape Town refugee centre in wynbery, people were asked to share their feelings about what it means to be a refugee in the Republic of South Africa,
We wish to share with our partners and friends in the next coming weeks some of these feelings. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

From M

"Even the government itself does not take us as human beings here in South Africa, especially on the police side. If you are a foreigner and you are treated badly, the police do not treat you seriously when you report to them.

As an example, my brother was shot dead in Philippi on 23 /05 2009, and the police were notified. They came to the scene to take a statement and some pictures and some bullets ., but what surprised me is that on 10 / 6 / 2009 we tried to get help to bury my brother, the police said that they had no such case reported to them. I thought that they did not take this case seriously because he was a foreigner."

From T

"The problem that I have as a refugee is that when I entered South Africa in April last year, I tried to apply for asylum. I managed to get one month stay then my asylum was rejected and I was supposed to leave the country within 30 days or to appeal before 14 days. I tried to go for appeal but they kept postponing until the given days were over.
I was told to get a letter from a lawyer or to come with one, but the lawyers said that they needed R 2,500 to go and stand for me. Because I was not working, I could not get that money and this problem is still blocking the situation: I am a code 14 drivers but everywhere I go they ask for a valid paper and a bank account. I cannot have a bank account if I do not have a refugee status. I have been struggling since September last year. I do not know if you can help to have a status."

From Ph8

"People in South Africa select refugees according to their country of origin. Usually, those from Zimbabwe are disliked everywhere.

Sometimes South Africans take chances to do whatever pleases them to the refugees. Here are some of the things which are done by South African citizens who are given authority:
- they put the law into their hands
- they are not saving people as the government has tasked them to do
- Even the police are not doing their job properly: they select to handle problems according to your place of origin. I am saying this because my brother Tinashe was shot and killed in his room in Philippi, but the police did not take it seriously. They did not even try to investigate the story because they knew that the deceased was a foreigner and a refugee. One week after the tragedy, they located three guys in the room where the deceased was killed, but they did not give time to trace the story. They just let them go. We are still breathing fire because we do not have any document from the police so that we can seek assistance to bury the deceased. This tragedy happened at house no 16020, Tshatshu road, Philippi. The police came but they could not produce any written document for the murder until we contacted the Scalabrini Refugee Service for help. This is how they deal with foreigners.
- I suppose they should clearly state that they cannot assist refugees or foreigners so that we know that there is no one to protect us."

to be continued

Monday, June 22, 2009

Huis Maria, a humbling experience

Huis Maria is a normal looking house on 20th Avenue in a suburb of Cape Town called Elsie’s River. This house is not different from the other houses in the street, until you actually take time to step inside. “This house shelters recuperating mental persons”
WWWA members as part of their community connecting and relationship building to mark world refugee day this year paid this house a visit.
We a good time sharing information, cleaning and cooking and having lunch, with residents who were very trilled to see and talk to these other people from Africa as they constantly referred to us. The coordinator of the project Carmen was happy to introduce us to all the residents. Some of the residents were quite frank when they mentioned that they never thought that there were people called refugees but that they had knowledge of these other people from over seas.
They wanted to know why these refugee have to flee their homes and why some of them had to choose south Africa to come to, there were questions about what languages are spoken by these “fugees” as they kept referring to refugees, they wanted to know when and how will refugee go back home and if there were refugees from Europe as well.
A touching moment for me was when I watched three guys sitting together , one black, one white and the other one colored , what stood out for me was how closed they were , they shared a cool drink from the same cup , every time some thing was passed around these three performed the sharing ritual until the last bit , it started with a cup of cool drink then a packet of chips then an orange, and even a piece of chicken.
They sat there so close to each other in their own world whispering and looking out for each other. these was my big moment I was deeply touch how we all needed as a world to became mentally deranged at some point, in order for us to actually realized that we all are one and the same and capable of love for one another.
Huis Maria is a place of love and care and offers hope to people who have lost hope as well as family ties and respects from the community. Perhaps that is why we connect to this project; refugees are more in the same space.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another woman dies in birth related complications

It is with a heavy heart that I write this morning, in fact with tears in my eyes.
A member of WWWA Miss Phillomina. K. died on Friday 6th June 2009, this was also the day she was born 24 yrs ago. On that day she went to the hospital to deliver her twin babies.
She lost the babies and then her life.
The question that one begins to ask is why women should loose their lives especially when trying to create another life. Again, is giving birth not a God given responsibility. Why then did Phillo have to die? Like the many hundreds of women who loose their lives in this continent every year.
In 2008 we buried two members who had died in maternal related complications.
Is this the new killer or is there any form of foul play, and why?
Phillo will be laid to rest on Thursday 11th June 2009. May her soul rest in peace.

Concepts and definitions
In the International Statistical Classification of
Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth
Revision, 1992 (ICD-10), WHO defines maternal
Death as:
The death of a woman while
Pregnant or within 42 days
Of termination of pregnancy,
Irrespective of the duration and
Site of the pregnancy, from any
Cause related to or aggravated by
The pregnancy or its management
But not from accidental or
incidental causes.
This definition allows identification of maternal deaths,
Based on their causes as either direct or indirect.
Direct obstetric deaths are those resulting from
obstetric complications of the pregnant state (pregnancy,
delivery, and postpartum), from interventions,
omissions, incorrect treatment, or from a chain of
events resulting from any of the above. Deaths due
to, for example, haemorrhage, pre-eclampsia/eclampsia
or those due to complications of anaesthesia or
caesarean section are classified as direct obstetric
deaths. Indirect obstetric deaths are those resulting
from previous existing disease, or diseases that developed
during pregnancy, and which were not due to
direct obstetric causes but aggravated by physiological
effects of pregnancy. For example, deaths due to
aggravation of an existing cardiac or renal disease are
indirect obstetric deaths.(http://www.who.int.reproductive –health publications )

Monday, June 8, 2009

world refugee day celebration 2009

WWWA is preparing to celebrate world refugee day on 20th June 2009. This day is celebrated across the globe every year, to remember the plight of refugees around the world and to recognize the contributions of refugees in the communities where they live. At WWWA we believe that it is a time to think about how far we have come and how far we still need to go in the daily struggle to be treated with dignity and respect. It is an uphill struggle for some refugees living in South Africa to day to reestablish them selves after the shocking xenophobic attacks of 2008. There is a yearning for us especially the women to be who we always wanted to be in other words a time to think about the rights that are denied us on a daily bases . This is a biter reminder to us again that for a refugee human rights became a luxury because you are more often than not treated as a non human, and the issue of rights then became a far cry from your mind, in this regard every day is trauma and torture day, every day is a day that reminds you that you do not belong and that you need to do some thing extra in other to be accepted.
In Cape Town WWWA continues to be supported by dedicated women and men who believe that man kind and humanity belongs to all. That refugee or not we are the same people. The partners and friends of WWWA have stood by us and have continuously supported the refugee women who seek the services of WWWA, to that effect the women of the Union of Jewish Women in Cape Town have offered eight week training free of charge to ten women from WWWA, in conflict management, anger management, and relationship building. This is a precious gift from women to other women, the women who will participate in the training are selected from the following countries of origin , Burundi, Zimbabwe , Cameroon , Rwanda, Malawi, Congo Brazzaville , and Congo DRC, the selection, was based on the fact that these women will take the skills back to the various communities which they represent.
WWWA will co host three events in different communities to mark this day
On 17 June WWWA together with community members will visit Nazareth house a place of safety for the sick and home less where we plan to distribute clothing collected from the community, we will clean, cook, share lunch with the residents of the shelter. And also share with them information on who a refugee is and why refugees come to South Africa.
• A church services with the Huis Maria in Elsie’s River Cape Town, is planned for 20th June. This is a place of safety for recovering mental patients and ranned by a generous nurse and her family , Huis Maria carters for recovering patients who do not have family or any one to care for them .
On June 21 the WWWA women will recite poems from a book living on the fence based on true live stories of these women and written by them. this will take place at the St Goerges Cathedral in Cape town after the sunday service . The poetry will be followed by a discussion with church member and other dignitaries. This will be a cession of sharing and giving by all who will be at the event.

"A mind in confussion"

Forced to flee their homes
Having lost everything,
And sometimes every one
Refugees have a lot to deal with
They have needs,
Emotional, economic, and social.
Most of all they have rights,
The right to seek asylum,
The right to life
The right to study
The right to work
Have children, educate them
And most of all the right just to beeeeee
Please refugees have the right to beeeeee.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

after khayelisha what next

The community conversation took place in Khayelisha on 16 May 2009. It is exactly one year today when foriegn nationals and even some South Africa citizens were brutally attacked and some lost their lives. The Nelson Madela foundation in collaboration with some Faith based organisations NGOs as well as CBOs are working to bring peace to some of the communities across the country where the impact was highly disturbing .

The aim of the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s community dialogue programmes is to promote social cohesion by creating a safe place in which members of a community can come together to discuss the challenges they face and find sustainable solutions.

It was fitting, therefore, that the khayelisha community created a space for organisations and community member to discuss the challenges facing this community and many others in South Africa after the recent attacks.
with this first conversation over , we are still divastaed to recieve news of Somali business men murdered in the Western cape over the weekend .
and in khayelishea and phillipi Somalis are living in fear as they have been told to move out with their businesses and families as soon as posible
In the settlement camps , over 400 people including women and childern are living in poor conditions.
the question is. What do we do now? what else needs to be done ?Who else is behind this misery ?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Community conversations

Whole World Women Association (WWWA) in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela fundation, Africa Unite, Alliance for Refugees in South Africa, Trauma Centre and the Institute for Healing of Memorises will be having the lanching of a two years program community conversation on issues of xenophobia and migration in Kaelisha-Cape Town.
Venue: Community Hall SITE C - kaelisha
Date: Saturday 16 May 2009
Time: 9:00 to 1:30pm
Contact: TeL: 021 448 5022 or email at magdalinetal@gmail.com

The fight for refugee women continues

Working together with local individu­als, groups organizations, Institutions and Government Departments with the intension of seeking ways of empow­ering refugee women and girls, to improve themselves, their self esteem and quality of life. We believe that it was a God designed step that saw the establishment of WWWA, as there is continuous prevalence of wars, and political conflicts in the continent that continues to displace more and more people many of them women and children. Although there is a lot of work being done in this area to protect refugees as well as displaced people.

“We found a need to work with women and girls as most often their issues are overshadowed by more pressing needs of fami­lies and in trying to establish a need for women to be recogn­ised both by private and public institutions”
We are saying that the needs of refugee women out number the needs of the ordinary person in this community.

Our aim is to lead the women s struggle into another dimension, in other words to arm refugee women with the skill to participate in the fight for the liberation of this continent That they will be able to take part in build­ing blocks that connect the struggle for equality with in the existing systems.

WWWA is running a number of projects such as, HIV/AIDS aware­ness and Management Program, Arts and Culture, Healing of memories, advocacy and Lobbying, Research and Student support, women’s leadership training.

Some of the projects are that will soon come into being are the crèche, and an empowerment centre for the women.

However we are facing many challenges in terms of number of people that want our assistance, but we don’t have material and rescourses.