Refugees from Africa living in Cape Town
Our April 1994 elections in South Africa made such an impact on me, that I travelled to Moçambique in October 1994 to witness their first democratic elections. It was a time of great change in that war ravaged country, so thousands of refugees were returning home because of the promise of peace and a first chance to vote for their own leaders. With the help of UNHCR, I travelled to Malawi and then returned with the refugees into Mutarara, north of Moçambique – an area devastated by the war.
It was an emotional experience to be with people who were finally returning to where they belonged. People who had been through the horrors of war – who as a result of terror and violence had to leave their homes with only what they could carry. They returned with little, but were filled with hope for a new future.
Back in Cape Town, UNHCR commissioned me to create an edeucational project around refugees living in Cape Town from all over Africa. I met some refugees that were staying in a church in Woodstock. One of them, an Angolan, worked in the kitchen of a local restaurant and I started giving him English lessons. Through him I met the Angolan football team and then started the long process of finding refugees.
The refugees that I met were like us – they had similar needs, and their priorities in life are universal – like wanting to live securely in a comfortable home. I encountered an incredible strength and sense of survival and they opened and shared their lives with me. Their continual resources of hope are an inspiration for all to remember. (Tracey Derrick)
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