“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

Matthew 25:35

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Nephtalie was born in South Africa. She is twenty-one years old and currently doing a public relations degree at UNISA. She is teaching herself cosmetology to be able to support her family. She was a dependent under her mother’s refugee file. When she turned eighteen, Nephtalie was removed from her mother’s file, a process called de-linking. She had to make her own asylum seeker application which is currently being reviewed by the Standing Committee of Refugee Affairs (SCRA). A legal pathway for Nepthalie to access citizenship is through a naturalisation application in terms of section 4(3) of the Citizenship Act. This application was submitted by Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) on 11 November 2019.

There has been no outcome since. Nephtalie is at risk of statelessness.

Imagine at this moment being a young person born in South Africa, having gone to school here, lived here your whole life and still having a temporary document. Your life is in limbo, and you face countless barriers in trying to have a future. You are told you are not from here, but you know no other place. You have to make an asylum application as your mother decided to flee before you were born.

Is there something in Nephtalie’s story that moves you? What images are coming into your mind at this moment? Take a moment to think about what this means? Are you being called into a specific action or change in behaviour?

*These reflections are based on work being done by the Jesuit Institute, Jesuit Refugee Service and Lawyers for Human Rights on preventing statelessness through a campaign called This Is Home

Dear God,

To whom no one is a stranger: Show yourself to those who yearn to belong. We ask for your presence with those who are lost and separated from family. Have mercy on those who are in limbo and seeking protection. Help us live in an equal world, open our hearts to seeking a more just future for all your people.


Abigail Dawson

Abigail Dawson holds a Masters in Development Studies, Sociology, from the University of Witwatersrand. Her activist and academic interests have focused on migration in a South African context. She is a qualified social worker and has provided counselling for migrant women and children. She hopes to bring change to the current public and global narrative on migration through effective and creative communication, networking and advocacy to ensure equitable communities for all people living in South Africa.

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