“I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matt 25:35)
The Shelter aims to provide for the needs of migrants by offering them accommodation, nutritious meals, clothes, access to health facilities including psychological, education for the children, legal assistance, guidance and support and other needs as and when they arise.
To provide a safe, secure and educational environment for infants and toddlers aged 0 to 3 years based on Early Childwood development Programme.
To provide a safe, secure and educational environment for children aged 3 to 6 years based on the Early Child Development Programme.
To assist children living in-house and in the community with reading, writing and mathematics.
The creative process of participating in art is used to improve the children’s physical, mental and emotional well-being, applying drama to promote their own creativity.
The Shelter works with the residents to reduce their vulnerabilities as women and refugees through different training workshops. Women are increasingly significant as international migrants, and it is now evident that the complex relationship between migration and human development operates in gender differentiated ways. However, because migration policy has typically been gender-blind, actions with an explicit gender perspective are necessary. The project aims to facilitate the integration process into the local communities and gain an economic foothold so they can be independent and support their own families.
Inaugurated in 2002, the project aimed to assist women in learning a marketable skill to increase their earning potential. In 2016, sixty women graduated; 45 at the basic level, and 15 with greater aptitude and inclination, at the advanced level. Of the graduates, 13 were residents of Bienvenu, 47 from the local community. Twenty eight graduates who were committed to a sewing career received machines. The 23 displayed an ability and aptitude to make and sell products During the classes, the women from the community have the opportunity to interact with the residents of Bienvenu Shelter. A level of camaraderie developed as they shared their experiences and developed awareness of the commonality of struggles faced by all marginalized individuals. Taken further, these relationships cannot but help the Shelter’s residents in adjusting to life in the community. In order to make inroads into a larger market, product range has to be expanded and production increased. Thus, further training, to parallel the basic course, for a longer period to improve skills and proficiency, and the availability of seed money for start-ups, would go a long way to establishing sustainability. They, however, are beset by the vagaries of poverty; seed money provided to purchase materials was used for school fees, rent and food. This is a very real challenge for anyone starting a micro-business, let alone refugees/asylum seekers attempting to establish themselves in an often difficult economic environment.
More than 60% of the women at the Shelter come from Francophone-speaking countries. Even after their three-month stay, many do not know how to speak English, which poses a constant challenge in integrating themselves into their host communities and in finding employment. To alleviate this debilitating condition, English language instruction is provided by an experienced instructor. The English language class is an initiative of, and the costs are borne by Bienvenu Shelter. In collaboration with the Department of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, the class is held in a room provided by the Cathedral. The class composition encompasses Shelter residents, ex-residents and learners from the local community. Primarily the language of communication in commerce and government is English. In order to access services and assistance, (eg. business capital assistance from the Jesuit Refugee Service, requires an ability to read and write in English) beneficiaries need to know English as a bare minimum. In addition to formal instruction, women and children are encouraged to speak English at the Shelter, to help them learn faster.