As a Jewish person, I am embedded with an ancestral heritage of 'migration'. From a small shtetl in Poland, Lithuania, Russia and Belgium, I am a product of movement. Working as an English teacher in South Korea further connected me to these concepts of 'migration' and 'foreign'.
These experiences, as well as my background as a UCT BA LLB (bachelor of law) graduate, have drawn me towards international migration issues and subsequently Scalabrini, where I volunteer in the Advocacy programme. It is in this position that I consistently question and acknowledge my power, roles and responsibilities through the depth and breadth of the world that is the 'Department of Home Affairs', 'Education Departments', 'Principles', 'investigators', 'prosecutors' and all those 'others' who have certain powers over the lives and conditions of the clients that appear before me. My clients have limited capacity to realize the full enjoyment of their rights, to gain access to the documents they need to work, to renew their permits, to ensure their children attend school, to appeal against rejections of their refugee status -- the list goes on and on.
At Scalabrini, we have some power to challenge powerful actors in society and government. We also have the ability to advocate around legislation and policy. While we may be part of a small NGO, we are big in our pursuit of justice and equality.
What I will remember of my experiences here are the people, their faces and their stories. I will especially remember the children who were struggling to be admitted into schools, clients who faced detention, and those whose refugee statuses had been withdrawn or limited. Scalabrini is a part of my journey and aspiration to further pursue Human Rights Law.
Posted in August 2018 in Volunteer Bios.