“I lift my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:1-2 

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Ali was born in South Africa to Congolese parents who were refugees. His father went on to obtain permanent residence. His mother awaits her permanent residence ID and still holds refugee status.

Ali cannot
• apply for citizenship by naturalisation, section 4(3) of the Act, because his parents are permanent residents.
• apply as a dependent under his parent’s permanent residents file (section 27 (g)) because he is over the age of 21 and therefore cannot be deemed a dependent.

Ali is still a dependent under his mother’s refugee status as he was still a minor at the time of his previous refugee status extension. Ali could be de-linked from his parent’s file during the process of his next renewal.

For a moment, visualise the mountain in Psalm 121. Mountains dominate a landscape; they are immovable and cast dark shadows in the valley. For young people, like Ali, who are stateless or at risk of statelessness, getting documentation feels like a rocky and steep mountain. They are faced with exclusion, rejection, and humiliation in trying to belong to a place legally. This Psalm calls us to look up, beyond the mountain, to a God present in all matters.

Take a moment to ask God to be present and accompany all of those who face mountains in their journey to documentation. That God may journey with them into dignity and in securing documentation.

*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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