Exploring the dynamics of the refugee phenomenon and it's relevance in Sout Africa's development : towards the merging of theory and practice for ministry to refugees

Msabah, Anzuruni Barnabé (2012-12)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The history of migration is as old as that of mankind. However, the magnitude of its impact is extremely acute today as we are confronted by the manifold consequences of globalisation. Scores of people from different parts of the world leave their homes every day in quest of personal, economic, political, social, environmental, emotional and spiritual freedom or security, amongst other things. In South Africa, the local population has been witnessing floods of such people entering the country since 1994. They all have one thing in common: enduring foreignness and all its consequences at liberty rather than living with neither liberty nor safety in their own countries. However, most South Africans understand less the context of the circumstances that lead to asylum-seeking or the challenges that asylum seekers and refugees among them face on a daily basis. They less appreciate refugees’ contribution in the country’s development and even lesser, the little attempts by refugees to prompt transformative change in the community. As a result, intolerance emerges and xenophobia transpires. There is a serious need to educate the society on the issues concerning refugees. This research explores different perspectives of forced human displacement (particularly the refugee phenomenon) with the purpose of finding better ways to educate the society on such matters. So, what should the church’s contribution be in educating the population on the question of refugees? In this study we prove that, first of all, the church is to provide refugees with a sense of belonging and homely warmth. That is, it should be the truest sanctuary for refugees by receiving them rather than keeping them apart. Then, it should build a bridge of understanding between refugees and the hosting community. This means the church is to be the reconciler of the two communities. Hence, this bridge of understanding is reconciliatory and leads to transformational development in society. The study is a collection of academic reflections, theological insights and empirical data from 271 participants nationwide. It is a multidisciplinary study (albeit researched within the frames of practical theology) that promotes human dignity for all. This it does by taking the challenges related to the refugee phenomenon and turning them into opportunities to be explored for the benefit of the community. Based on our findings, we give some recommendations to assist community workers and guide policy makers in their attempts to effect transformational change in the community and be effectively responsive to the needs of refugees in South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die geskiedenis van menslike verskuiwing of migrasie is so oud soos dié van die mensdom. Die impak daarvan is egter deesdae baie ernstig soos wat ons gekonfronteer word met die veelvuldige gevolge van globalisering. Massas mense van verskillende dele van die wêreld verlaat elke dag hul woonplekke op soek na persoonlike, ekonomiese, politieke, sosiale, omgewings-, emosionele en geestelike vryheid of sekuriteit. In Suid-Afrika kan die plaaslike bevolking getuig van ‘n vloedgolf van sulke mense wat die land inkom sedert 1994. Hulle het almal een ding in gemeen: blywende vreemdelingskap en al die gevolge daarvan op die persoon se vryheid eerder as om te lewe met geen vryheid en geen veiligheid in hul eie lande. Die meeste Suid-Afrikaners verstaan nie die konteks van die omstandighede wat kan lei tot die soek van asiel of die uitdagings wat asielsoekers en vlugtelinge moet aanskou elke dag. Hulle waardeer nie vlugtelinge se bydrae tot die ontwikkeling van die land nie en nog minder die vlugtelinge se beperkte pogings om transformerende verandering in die gemeenskap te bewerk. As gevolg hiervan kom onverdraagsaamheid na vore en raak xenofobie sigbaar. Daar is 'n ernstige behoefte om die gemeenskap op te voed oor die kwessies rakende vlugtelinge. Hierdie navorsing verken verskillende perspektiewe oor menslike migrasie (veral die vlugtelinge-verskynsel) met die doel om beter maniere van gemeenskapsopvoeding te vind rakende sulke sake. Wat behoort die kerk se bydrae te wees tot die opvoeding van die bevolking oor die kwessie van vlugtelinge? In hierdie studie het ons bewys dat dit eerstens die kerk se taak is om 'n gevoel van ‘behoort’ en huislike warmte te verskaf. Dus moet dit ‘n ware toevlugsoord vir vlugtelinge wees waar hulle ontvang word eerder as om hulle op ‘n afstand te hou. So behoort dit 'n brug van begrip te bou tussen vlugtelinge en die gasheer-gemeenskap. Dit beteken dat die kerk die versoener van die twee gemeenskappe behoort te wees. Hierdie brug van begrip is versoenend en lei dus tot transformasie-ontwikkeling in die samelewing. Die studie is 'n versameling van akademiese oorwegings, teologiese insigte en empiriese data van 271 deelnemers landwyd. Dit is 'n multidissiplinêre studie (alhoewel die navorsing binne die raamwerk van die praktiese teologie gedoen is) wat menswaardigheid vir almal bevorder. Die word gedoen deur die uitdagings wat verwant is aan die vlugtelinge-verskynsel te gebruik en te omskep in geleenthede wat ondersoek kan word tot die voordeel van die gemeenskap. Gegrond op ons bevindinge, gee ons 'n paar aanbevelings om gemeenskapswerkers en gids beleidmakers by te staan in hul pogings om transformasie in die gemeenskap te bewerkstellig en effektief te reageer op die behoeftes van vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika.

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