“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Matthew 25:31-40 

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Hans was born to a Congolese mother and father. Hans’ mother passed away when he was still in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). His father had left the DRC for South Africa. He stayed with his grandparents, who struggled to care for him until his father sent for him. Upon arrival in South Africa, he became estranged from his father. Hans currently has no ties to the DRC or South Africa – meaning he is stateless.

Hans applied for permanent residence by exemption with assistance from Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) in December 2018. There has been no outcome on this application to date. Furthermore, the permanent residence section of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has been closed since the beginning of lockdown.

Hans is a bright young person whose future has been put on hold. His dreams seem futile as he awaits an outcome on his application for permanent residence. Hans has aspirations and hopes like us all.

Can you think about a time that you felt unwelcome somewhere? How does this make you feel?

Take a moment to think about a time where your God-given gifts were recognised and welcomed. Were you able to contribute to your community, recognised as a neighbour? How did that make you feel?

Jesus calls on us to welcome the stranger amongst us. When you reflect on Hans’ story, does someone else you know come to mind, someone seen as an outsider? How might you welcome them, appreciate their gifts and integrate them into your community?

*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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