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 Bongani, the Operations Co-ordinator at Scalabrini. He believes that the solidarity seen in Covid-19 lockdown should be taken forward to better South Africa.
Doors cannot be shut on non-South Africans
“Covid-19 is a dreadful virus that knows no boundaries and has shown that anyone can be affected.” Bongani acknowledges that the South African government has struggled to provide relief for its people – but that now is not the time to exclude anyone. “We are in direct contact with our brothers and sisters – regardless of colour or creed – who have had to leave home as a way of finding something better for themselves and their loved ones.”
At work, before lockdown, Bongani noticed how difficult it was for refugees and migrants to integrate “within a society that is still trying to break the boundaries of prejudice.” The added challenge now is access to aid. “The doors cannot be shut on non-South Africans.” While seeing first-hand the conditions that people are living through to survive the Covid-19 lockdown, Bongani has also seen unity and people in communities working together to help each other.
A common effort is needed by all
There are lessons to be learnt during this time that could be beneficial to South Africa moving forward, a big lesson being that unity and solidarity always win. “Everyone is fighting a different battle. We should learn to be kind, supportive and caring. Be genuine in your approach to helping people…seeing the individual better is enough of a reward…We are all affected, and a common effort is needed by all.” Bongani asks for us all to find our compassion for one another, with open and honest conversations in order to move forward.
Solidarity always, not only in the face of a crisis
Across the world, people are experiencing changes and difficult times. We are living by a specific set of rules in order to help stop the spread and to protect one another. “In the same way that we are all responsible for adhering to rules and regulations to curb the spread together, we must adhere to and be genuinely responsible for the plight of refugees and non-South African citizens.”
Across social media we see people coming together and helping one another, which should not trickle away once lockdown and life eases. Bongani’s ideal vision of post Covid-19 South Africa, is a country where compassion and understanding comes as second nature, and caring for the less fortunate is a top priority.