The filmmaker Jazz Lohaka Mbiya is making a documentary film on the realities of refugees in South Africa and he decided to film part of his documentary at The Scalabrini Centre, as he feels the centre aided him in creating a successful life for himself here in South Africa. Coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo, he has been living in Cape Town since 2013.

Jazz, as well as his fellow classmates, on 9 March 2017 debuted their pilots at the American Corner in the Central Library of Cape Town. The film will be released in April 2017.

What is the topic of your documentary?

My documentary focuses on the situation of migrants in South Africa and on the xenophobic attacks they have recently faced. The original title is in French “Rues de memoire perdue”, in English “Streets of lost memory”. I chose this title because it is strictly related to my experience as a migrant  who left his country.

Why did you chose this topic?

Firstly because of my own experience, secondly because – telling about me and about friends from Congo and Angola I have interviewed – I can explain to my audience how the lives of immigrants are in South Africa and what they have to face day-by-day. I hope to motivate my audience through my film and my story.

What is the role that Scalabrini Centre has in your life?

When I arrived at the Scalabrini Centre four years ago, I started from zero. Scalabrini Centre offered me the opportunity to learn English, as well as attend different job readiness workshops and computer training. Some months later, I was proud of myself and the knowledge I had gained while at Scalabrini. That’s why I decided to feature the Scalabrini Centre in my film. I not only filmed the location, but I also interviewed Assistant Employment Access Programme Manager Lylah Monroe, in order to better highlight the support the Scalabrini Centre gave to me as well to inform other migrants who need support where to go and how to better integrate in Cape Town.

Click here to watch the pilot of Jazz Lohaka Mbiya  https://youtu.be/MkW3_wqfjIo

African Deli Kitchen: African specialties in the heart of the business of three Zimbabwean ladies living in Cape Town

Tasty meatballs, special recipes to enjoy chicken and beef combined with rice, spaghetti or veggies, crunchy fish and chips, delicious magwinya. This is the business of Mercy, Mavelous e Nyaradzai, three Zimbabwean women who are coping with their first entrepreneurial activity: the food catering “African Deli Kitchen”, which serves food from different African countries on a daily basis.

It was launched in April 2016 thanks to their strong will to become economically independent, but also thanks to the support of Women’s Platform of Scalabrini Centre, which provides training courses and mentoring in business development for women, as well as practical advice about how to create a new profitable business.

Mercy, Mavelous and Nyaradzai live in Cape Town, where they run this business. Long time ago they left Zimbabwe to find better living conditions. In the last years they have worked hard to learn English, to integrate in Cape Town and to conceive a reliable business plan.

Demonstrating resilience, they have turned the knowledge of other African countries’ cuisines into an opportunity to reach their economic independence. Furthermore, they also care about trends and tastes of regular customers to improve the business: “In the last months we have modified our menu, introducing fish and vegetarian dishes, in order to meet different clients’ needs” says Mercy, cooking a mix of peppers, broccoli and spices.

Less than one year later, the venture is producing incomes.

Their first and still faithful clients are taxi drivers stationed at different locations of Cape Town, coming from Congo and Zimbabwe. Recently they have targeted new clients as bricklayers working in construction sites, workers in the City Bowl area of Cape Town, employees of Scalabrini Centre (where African Deli Kitchen has its headquarter), associations and organisations looking for food catering and banquets. They have also developed a wider marketing strategy in order to attract clients interested in enjoying African flavours at affordable prices. “The relation between cost and quality of the food is right”, explains Mavelous, “It lets us retain old clients and conquer new ones”.

In fact, African Deli Kitchen runs from 15 meals to 40 meals average sold per day. So our three ambitious ladies are planning to enlarge the business and are looking for one more lady to hire.

“African Deli Kitchen gave us the opportunity to turn our passion for cooking, something that we usually do for our family, into an opportunity for business”, comments Nyaradzai, “Now we want to give the same opportunity to other women interested, like us, in developing their cooking and business skills, as well as their capability to cooperate as a team”.

Portraits of entrepreneur ladies: passion for food, passion for business


Mavelous is a Zimbabwean national stemming from Mutate. She is a passionate cook and in her spare time she also enjoys reading novels, going to church and socialising with women in social media groups. Mavelous would like to see the kitchen grow, as this is her main goal for 2017. Also, she would love to see more women empowered thanks to this new vibrant business.


Nyaradzai is a Zimbabwean national stemming from Gweru. She is best known as Catherine. During her spare time she enjoys watching TV, sleeping, going out with her kids and baking. She hopes the future holds some great surprises for her. Her dream is to see the African Deli kitchen grow and become a restaurant over the next two years. Also, she wants to empower other women, supporting them in the starting up of their business! Nyaradzai is a very calm and focused person, don’t miss the chance to come watch her cook professionally at African Deli!


Mercy is a Zimbabwean national coming from Harare. Apart from cooking she enjoys fishing, reading novels, playing soccer and spending time with kids at the local orphanage. She defines herself as a go-getter and a very passionate person, especially keen on cooking. She is an enthusiastic woman and her dreams for the future include seeing her kitchen business expand, allowing the youth to enter the business through new opportunities that will arise as a consequence of this expansion. Mercy is a great team member and working with her is always fun.



African Deli Kitchen is in 47, Commercial Street, Cape Town

Further information on Facebook @African Deli

Art Therapy at the Scalabrini Centre: women show off their creative masterpieces

Ten women coming from several African countries.

These are brave, aware, cheerful and smiling women.

They are full of self-confidence and self-esteem, which has been boosted by their recent completion of an art therapy course led by art therapist Sylvie Groschatau-Phillips. This course is set within AMKA workshop, a collaborative effort between the Employment Access Programme and the Welfare Programme of Scalabrini Centre.

AMKA, a Swahili word meaning ‘wake up’, is a workshop that consists of the several modules: life skills, stress management, HIV/AIDS awareness, basic computer skills, job readiness skills, human rights, information session and art therapy. Furthermore, it provides ladies with sustained career guidance via the Employment Access Programme, which provides the long-term support needed to successfully secure employment after their training. Only a pool of selected women can take part in this workshop.

The focus of the art therapy workshops was to promote group cohesion, trust and discipline as well as help assess individual needs and strengths.

AMKA 17 BODY MAPPING 4“Statistically, welfare programme receives majority of female clients who have under gone loads of trauma and hardships in their lives. The journey they encounter leaving their countries of origin and settling in a foreign land both contribute to the mental status of the person through Art Therapy which is part of the session they learn during the AMKA workshop”, says Jane Kanswe, consultant of Welfare Programme , “Art therapy has helped clients with their social skills. The benefits of art therapy in these types of situations has helped clients that are withdrawn or shy, or who, for some reason or another, have a difficult time functioning within social situations. Art Therapy has been seen as a tool to improve lives by helping AMKA clients improve their mental, emotional, and even physical states. It can raise the quality of life for many people, and it’s worth considering”.

“The art therapy sessions are an invaluable part of AMKA, as they prepare the ladies for the second week of the programme, which focuses on life skills and job readiness. The main aim of the AMKA programme is to assist the ladies to become independent and self-sustaining, enabling them to better support themselves and their families”, comments Kaelynn Macdonald, working for the Employment Access Programme , “Art Therapy sessions give the ladies the opportunity to reflect on themselves, recognize their strengths and skills, and develop goals and direction that will aid them in searching for, and securing employment”.


Benefits of Art Therapy

Combined with several courses of the AMKA workshop, the art helped those ladies to overcome trauma connected with their past, to bring out new resources in themselves, to find an approach to the life more aware, positive and dynamic.

Sylvie Groschatau-Phillips tells us about the power of art therapy and comments on the achievements of women who took part in this workshop: “Art Therapy offers individuals a process of personal evolution and development through artistic expression. The art therapist provides accompanying measures that allow a person to express, to give shape and to work out the said, and the inexpressible in such a way as to connect and give meaning to these various aspects of the self in a dynamic process of change”.

Through art therapy, women have explored the roles they want to play in the family, in the community and in the country they are living in.

 “During the course of the workshops, they asked very pertinent questions about both the programme and the art-therapy sessions which shows a strong inquisitive mind. They are able to enquire and clarify briefs, purpose and objectives which will be of help when applying for work. I was thanked by each for the experience, my patience and dedication…  I feel very proud to work with such strong women, embracing change, ready to do what it takes to succeed and enhance their lives” Sylvie ends.

During the final presentation, held in February 2017 at Scalabrini Centre, the women exhibited their masterpieces. Each participant created four paintings to express themselves and perceptions of past, present and future. Names, trees of life, footprints and self-portraits filled Scalabrini’s walls.

Within these artworks, the creators shared fragments of their lives: someone lost a family, someone is looking for love, someone is looking for a job, someone is over-skilled, and someone is filling gaps in their education. Although all have different stories and backgrounds, the participants have motivation and determination in common.


The art therapy outcomes

Flowers, hearts, trees, fruits and paths are the most common elements of their paintings. In most of the cases, the “tree of life” they have drawn is a tree that grows in the countries they come from. It is full of fruits, each fruit represents an achievement.  The Body Maps are full scale. Linked to each part of the body, the participants, choosing their own words and colors, wrote down desires and goals: a specific job, family, happiness, awareness, dynamism, creativeness, independence or love for people.

Here some comments of women, while they introduced their art creation:

“In my tree of life there is my family, who taught me to love the life, to be brave and determined”.

“I feel like a caterpillar because I want to overcome hate and difficulties that affected my past”.

“I imagine myself as butterfly and I want to develop my creativity”.

“I want to be more aware of the present”.

“I consider myself as a responsible woman, that’s why my footprint is well grounded”

“I like to be defined a creative thinking”.

“I believe in the life, I am trustful, I am flexible. The key word of my footprint is success”.

“Thanks for the opportunity the Scalabrini Centre gave me! Through the art, I got aware that I must wake up, I want to be more active and economically independent. Now I am ready to face the life and look for a job”.

We trust that what was expressed in their artworks and during each very moving presentation will soon turn into their reality.

 See more about art-therapy and Body Mapping: www.123lestimides.net


Angolan Cessation update: hope for Angolan former refugees as they apply for permanent residency

It is 15 February 2017, and the sun has barely risen. At Scalabrini’s offices in the centre of Cape Town, a group of advocacy officers meet to transport hundreds of files to the South African parliament. Despite their exhaustion, adrenalin flows: since November 2016, they have been collecting thousands of application forms from former Angolan refugees, and today is the deadline for submission.


Within these files are 1,737 applications, each documenting the lives of applicants who have established themselves in South Africa over the last twenty years. After filling dozens of boxes with this precious cargo, Scalabrini’s employees delivered the 160 lever-arch files to the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA). Here, the Minister will consider each individual’s application to remain in South Africa permanently.

Take Mr. and Mrs. Joao,* who fled to South Africa after their village in southern Angola was bombed and their son was abducted by soldiers. The couple were granted refugee status in South Africa in 1999 and began to put down roots. Within four years, the couple had started a small bakery in Brooklyn. The couple had another child, Ernesto. The bakery grew in popularity and they began employing staff. In 2013, their lives were turned upside down when their refugee status was ceased. Desperate to stay in South Africa, the couple were issued an ‘Angolan Cessation Project’ permit, or ACP permit, which expired in June 2015. As the expiry date drew near, it became apparent that the couple were unable to extend their ACP permit. The family were faced with the prospect of being forcibly returned to Angola. Ernesto, then fourteen years old, had never set foot in Angola. Mr. and Mrs. Joao held painful memories of the war, and considered South Africa their home. Following legal steps and negotiations between Scalabrini and DHA, a Court Order allowed the Joao family to apply for permanent residency in South Africa.


This Court Order is the latest step of a long negotiation process between DHA and Scalabrini regarding the legal status of former Angolan refugees in South Africa. ACP permits, like those held by the Joao family, were issued to Angolan refugees who wished to remain in South Africa. These permits were easy to obtain – only a passport, police clearance certificate and letter of employment were required. However, these permits were near impossible to extend. When the inability of this group to legalize their future stay became apparent, Scalabrini began discussions with DHA to advocate for Angolans’ continued legal stay based on their strong ties to South Africa. In October 2015, Scalabrini handed in an application to the Minister of Home Affairs, which asked that he consider providing permanent residency to a ‘category of foreigners’ – in this case, those Angolans with the special ACP permit. This application was made under Section 31 of the Immigration Act that allows the Minister the discretion to grant permanent residency in special circumstances.

In November 2016, following legal steps, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Malusi Gigaba, agreed to consider and determine applications, from ACP permit holders, for permanent residence in terms of section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act.

“You can see, from the Court Order, the types of documents that DHA want to see from former Angolan refugees says Lotte Manicom, an advocacy officer at Scalabrini Centre. The Court Order requests applicants to submit police clearance certificates, bank statements, employment contracts and ‘proof of socioeconomic integration’ amongst other documents. “Many Angolans applicants put a lot of effort into these applications. We have one applicant who submitted a two-hundred page application that documented his life, from an award at Fish Hoek primary school to his proof of his current job, which he has held for the last five years. He said that being forced back to Angola, a country he does not even remember, would be like being a foreigner all over again” explains Lotte.


Indeed, many of these former Angolan refugees have lived in South Africa for decades – on average 18 years – and have started businesses, attained higher degrees and added skills to the economy of this country. An entire generation of children born to Angolan parents have grown up in South Africa and this is the only country they have ever known. A report by Scalabrini found a high level of integration amongst Angolan respondents and “The Cessation”, a short documentary by Scalabrini, followed three Angolan refugees as they reflected on the impact of the cessation processes.


“I cannot go back, my kids are born here and they are receiving education in SA”.
“I can only visit, not settle, in Angola”.
“I cannot go back; there are no life prospects. I wouldn’t know where do begin”.
“Angola is just a picture in my mind”
Quotes from the report “Angola is just a picture in my mind”

With their permanent residency applications now lodged at DHA, Angolan applicants like the Joao family tentatively await the outcome of their application – which DHA is due provide, to each individual applicant, by 15 May 2017.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the person involved.

New Intern Profile – Pippa Mulvey


Hi everyone, my name is Pippa and I’ll be an Advocacy Intern at Scalabrini until the end of September. I’m from the UK and have spent the last few years living in Edinburgh. After studying International Relations at university I spent some time in Cape Town volunteering with asylum seekers and refugees. This experience and a subsequent internship in Ghana definitely helped me decide that I wanted to work in the field of development and pushed me towards doing a masters in Africa and International Development. During my masters I was lucky enough to get funding to return to Ghana to conduct research on vulnerable female migrants living in an informal settlement in Accra.
I’m so excited to be back in Cape Town and to learn more about South Africa’s refugee policy. I have been interning at Scalabrini now for six weeks and I’m already loving it.

New Intern Profile – Mathilda Mallinson


My name is Mathilda and I have recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with a BA in history. The focus of my final dissertation was Zulu history and identity and the impressions of colonialism, which initiated my interest in South Africa as a country. I’m known to have itchy feet and hope to live in many places across the world, but Cape Town is my first move out of the UK! I am keen to work in humanitarian development, particularly in education, and Scalabrini stood out to me as an organisation that effectively addresses some of the most prominent issues of our day, namely the displacement of and estrangement between peoples. Besides history, I have experience working in theatre and studying art, and am interested in the application of art, movement and theatre constructively in social welfare and cultural interaction. Such work is among the many projects run by Scalabrini that attracted me to volunteer here, an establishment from which I’m sure I can learn as much as I can contribute.

New Intern Profile – Aleyda Bakir


Hi! My name is Aleyda and I will carry on my internship until the end of July 2017. I have been in Cape Town a year ago for holiday and could not leave it with that, so I made my decision to leave my comfort zone and come back for a longer time. I come from Switzerland (German part) and used to work in the financial industry. Besides my full-time job I did a few voluntary work in different organisations, which also includes voluntary with refugees and asylum seekers in Switzerland. I am known as a very diverse person, who loves different cultures and talking to people with various backgrounds. I am keen on reading books and strongly interested in international politics and different languages. I am impressed by Africas diverse culture, ethnical groups, 11 official languages and many other things – I am overwhelmed about the Rainbow Nation

New Intern Profile – Violet Tratchenberg


Violet has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and wrote her honors thesis about White teachers’ racial consciousness development. She is passionate about teaching, education equity, and community organizing for social justice. In 2015, she studied abroad in Cape Town and interned at COSAT High School in Khayelitsha. She has also taught with the Breakthrough Collaborative in San Francisco, and in public schools in Santiago, Chile and Las Tablas Abajo, Panama. Violet is from Portland, Oregon in the United States, and is a competitive slam poet.

She is volunteer in the English School of Scalabrini Centre.

New Intern Profile – Julia Munroe


Hi, I’m Julia. I’m a Capetonian but would love to have the opportunity to live many places in the world! Alongside my internship at Scalabrini, I’m currently completing my Honours in anthropology, with interests in reproductive health rights and medical anthropology. For my dissertation, I worked with an NGO that distributes washable sanitary pads to school girls, looking at notions of ‘dignity’ and gendered citizenship. I’m passionate about education and gender issues and strive to live in a more equal, empathetic and accepting world.

Currently I’m interning for 6 months with the Women’s Platform and also teach a class with Scalabrini’s English School. Working at Scalabrini has been challenging, humbling and amazing and I feel honoured to be working in a space with such passionate people.



New Intern Profile – Ruth Brain


Hello! My name is Ruth and I am a new Employment Access Programme (EAP) at Scalabrini. I am from Cape Town and recently graduated from the University of Cape Town with Honours in Justice and Transformation, a politics specialisation. I did my undergraduate degree in Politics, Philosophy, Economics and Business French and I am passionate about realising justice, in its multiple forms in Southern Africa.

Some of my fields of interest are conflict in sub-Saharan Africa, organized crime and non-state violence, transitional justice, development and inclusive urban spaces. I did my dissertation on using transport to promote social inclusion in Global South cities – inclusion and integration are particular interests of mine!

And so here I am interning at Scalabrini for 3 months – while deliberating over whether or not to do my Masters in Migration next year. When I’m not at work, I enjoy hiking, swimming in the sea and eating ice cream 🙂