is there hope for asylum seekers in south africa?
Sometime in July 2012, I Mrs. Victoria Philips-Olaboye the founder of IWAAF (International West Africa-Asylum seekers Foundation) Soughed for Asylum here in South Africa but to my amazement the needs of asylum seekers was sighted as being unbearable. Along the line, the previous month a colleague of mine also had the same unpalatable experience. This in effect brought about the vision” to provide assistance, to promote the welfare, education and empowerment of the asylum seekers and to help the asylum seekers in building a life here, in South Africa”.
The vision provided a notion “is there Hope for Asylum seekers?” In the beginning, hope was fible as we were faced with many obstacles but we pressed on. Our first challenged was convincing asylum seekers to believe in the vision/dream. We had no office, we had language communication problem, we had no visible benefit for our prospective members, we had no finance to sustain a staff, and even a means of transport was a problem. Despite this we pressed on.
It was not an easy journey at first. At the Home Affairs ground, we needed a tent/canopy and chairs to mentor our prospective members. Back then we were perceived as a fake organization, intending to defraud people. Even the absence of an office brought a greater challenge, yet we didn’t give up. As God would answer to the vision, we were able to purchase a canopy/tent and chairs. As time goes on we got in contact with someone who trusted our vision and provided us with an office at suite 204, Sunny fair Building 171, Esselen street Pretoria were we are still located.
Precisely, two months later the membership increased by double. In other to solve the language barrier between us and French speaking members, Mali, ivory coast, Senegal etc we had to research some word interpretations in French language to English online through the internet.
In time, more individual joined the “train” acting as volunteers up till this moment. We were able to create a network that helped our new member get their Asylum certificates (documents) but this is not our focus. The challenge and frustrating process of survival in a foreign land still exist but the pain is now bearable to an extent for all our incoming members.
Our focus and aim is embedded in the lives of the many victims of prostitution, drug related cases, joblessness, and hopeless situation surrounding asylum seekers.
In spite all odds, in the year 2012, December. We registered the organization IWAAF (international asylum seekers foundation) at Department of trade and industry-D.T.I. today we are moving forward.
Presently, we now have volunteer members of the organization. These members are actively involved in all section/ department of the organization our members include Mr. Abiodun Olaboye, Mrs. Victoria Philips, Mr. Olagbaju Olushola, Mr. and Mrs. Solanrin, Mr. Isaac Madiseng, Mr. Spencer, Mr. Timothy, Apostle Elisharp, Mr. Daniel, Mr. Isaac.
Today, IWAAF have successfully been able to hold seven hundred (700) registered Asylum Seekers from all West African Countries.
About nineteen asylum seekers have been provided with profitable and productive jobs by the organization.
Also, the organization has helped asylum seekers to get their permits at the home affairs office.
A lot of members-asylum seekers have been provided with assistance in getting their SAQA Certificates.
Mentorship is regularly provided for all West African Asylum Seekers on living, empowerment, skill acquisition, permit procedure e.t.c.
The success of creating an account for Asylum Seekers has also been made possible.
We therefore need your support to give Asylum Seekers hope here in South Africa. Asylum Seekers are not here to damage the country in any way, they will not have been here if there is no problem from their country of origin. There presence here will better the economy of South Afica, if there are empowered. IWAAF is committed to do all it can to help them acquire all the necessary skill, that will help them to excel . .No Asylum Seeker wishes to take over jobs from South Africans, all they want is a life.
Great support has also been given to the organization from the media, Department of Home Affairs, Christ Embassy Church ,Celestial Church of Christ and Plant Image Production . In addition clothing materials, baby food, tooth paste creams have also been distributed to its displaced members. But the journey is still far.
Our aim and purpose would come to satisfactory, when this foundation holds offices at the six regions/provinces were the Department of Home Affairs offices are, in order to take care of and meet the immediate needs of asylum seeker /refugees. We would not go to bed until we are able to bring relief to the homeless, emotionally imbalanced and psychologically drained asylum-seekers.
Therefore our objectives remain:
• To act as representative for members on matters relating to their refugees status and those seeking asylum
• To monitor research and advocate on issues relating West Africa and needs
• To assist any west Africa Government in identify the need of West Africa asylum seekers
• To increase public awareness and media sensitivity toward West Africa refugee and refugee needs
• To provide mentoring and counseling to refugee
• To maintain close link with national and international agencies working with and for refugee
• To promote the empowerment of West Africa refugees
• To provide mentoring and entrepreneur training for members
• To be the voice of information for the refugee
On behalf of all West Africa Asylum Seekers we will like to thank all south African .thank you all