The Healing of Memories workshop with women refugees was held from the 5-7th March 2010 in Schoenstatt, Constantia.
Organisations that work with Refugees, namely Bonne Esperance and Heavenly Shelter sent participants to attend the workshop. These participants were from Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, The Democratic Republic of Congo ( DRC ) and RSA.
The participants were mainly young women who have just arrived in South Africa, and are confronted with many challenges, including issues they carry from their countries of origin. Some of the issues ranged from rape, torture, trust, HIV/Aids and identity.
During the workshop a short video was shown, relating to Xenophobic incidents. Participants were encouraged to comment and share their feelings, and to think about what could have been done to avoid similar occurrences. Drawings were also used as a form of dialogue during the workshop.
Total number of participants- 26
Gender- Female 22, Male 4
Age: 18- 36yrs
Country represented Number of participants
Angola 1 male, 1 female
Rwanda 3 females, 1 male
Burundi 6 females
Zimbabwe 6 females
DRC 3 females
RSA 2 females, 3 males
One of the challenges was language and communication. It was fortunate that the Institute has some French speaking facilitators. It took a while for some of the participants to trust the process.
The limited number of refugees that could attend the workshop. Many more women refugees are interested in attending the workshop but are unable to do so due to limited funding available.
Although it took a while for participants to trust the process, once they made a breakthrough, they were reluctant to go home. Follow up on issues that emerged took place with the relevant organizations.
For example, one women who is HIV/ positive felt exceptionally isolated, however, a week after the workshop, she was already receiving attention.
Feedback from participants attending the Healing of Memories workshops
• They said that it was a very good, touching workshop where they learnt a lot and looked in depth about where they are as women as well as refugees in a foreign land.
• People have different problems from different countries despite them being refugees in the same country (SA).
• Containing peace within themselves and others is a challenge.
• Crying can make you heal.
• Painful experiences in one’s life hinders progress and quality of life.
• It is important to spend time with loved ones.
• Find time to listen and talk to important people in the world.
• It is important to make mistakes in life, learn from them and to move forward.