Scalabrini Centre: volunteer experience – Vanessa Wright


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I am from Toronto, Ontario and have been volunteering at the Scalabrini Refugee Centre for the past 4 months. During this time, I have had awonderful experience learning about the range of support programs offered at Scalabrini, and getting to know the clients and staff at the centre. My primary volunteer responsibilities have included assisting with aspects of the women’s platform (outreach support group) and with the centre’s English school, and running an HIV education and prevention body-mapping workshop.

I have admired the creative and resilient approach taken by many refugees in Cape Town, particularly during the recent xenophobic threats that exist in many parts of South Africa. On World Refugee Day, the Scalabrini Centre decided to host a World Refugee Week, where clients cooked and prepared lunch, and participated in music, drama and poetry performances. It was a wonderful celebration, the hope and energy in the auditorium was palpable as we sang lyrics to songs in many different languages. As I walked home that afternoon, I could still hear the music echo from the centre and was graciously reminded of the shared unity, perseverance and determination I have felt from refugees not only in Toronto, but now South Africa too.

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