“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

Leviticus 19:34 

Monday, 9 August 2021

In this quiet moment, imagine what belonging means to you? What are the images that come to your mind? Is it a feeling, a particular language or a group of people? Is it the documentation you have or the familiarity of your home and neighbourhood?


Many people who live around us feel that they don’t belong. This may be because of how they are perceived or what they believe. It may be because of where they are from, the language they speak, or their job. Some young people feel they do not belong because they have not been granted citizenship or the documents that say, you belong here.


Statelessness is something that can affect everyone, even those born in South Africa. Simply put, statelessness means that no country recognises you as a citizen because of conflicts in nationality law and its implementation. This results in people not having a claim to citizenship anywhere, even if South Africa is the only place they know. Stateless people face difficulty in simple and more complex tasks, including opening bank accounts or obtaining a driver’s license and applying for university or voting. Imagine for yourself what this may look or feel like?


Take a moment to think about those who are yearning to belong? What can you do to welcome those who need it? Is God asking you to open yourself up to someone or take action towards someone else’s belonging?

 

*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.

Amen.

 
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.

abigail.dawson@jrs.net
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