Rising crime in South Africa hampers service to refugee women and children: Catholic nun

The heightened insecurity in the region is causing trauma to refugee women, students and staff at the Bienvenu shelter, run by the Scalabrinians.

“These challenges have been in a way traumatic for refugee women who have already experienced trauma,” Sr. Chiesa said of some of the beneficiaries at a facility that includes a training center for refugees.

The Brazil native cited the rotating claw characterized by the interruption of electricity supply for non-overlapping periods in different parts of South Africa as another challenge as it “has become extremely difficult to continue activities, particularly with subsistence yards and administrative tasks”.

The Scalabrinian nun assured AGM attendees that despite the challenges, Bienvenu Shelter “will continue to serve women and their children by welcoming, caring for and empowering them.”

The facility, she said, “will ensure that refugee women and their children are treated with dignity and respect.”

Refuge Bienvenu staff, Sr. Chiesa said, will continue to provide information and encouragement to beneficiaries, and “will carry on the charism of Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini and Blessed Mother Assunta and Father Joseph Marchetti, committing themselves to the human dignity of migrants and refugees”.

In a bid to increase security measures, Sr. Chiesa said they would “consider opening a candy store in the training center to provide more security for students.”

“Opening the confectionery will also help generate income,” she said.

The Scalabrinian nun then highlighted some of the shelter’s accomplishments over the past year, including the launch of the book published under the title “Bienvenu Shelter: 20 Years of Welcoming, Caring and Empowering”, which tells the story and the mission of the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters in Johannesburg.

“Bienvenu Shelter has been chosen from among six countries around the world to present an online dialogue on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on migrants and refugees, at the UN executive board in Geneva,” said Sr. Chiesa.

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