By Sheila Pires, Radio Veritas, South Africa.
Catholic Women Equipped with Capacity Building for Migrants, Refugees Pastoral Care in Eswatini
Members of the Eswatini Council of Catholic Women (ECCW) attended a three-day workshop on capacity building for migrants and refugee’s pastoral care.
In an interview with Radio Veritas on the side-lines of the three-day workshop on migration, the President of ECCW said the workshop aimed at equipping parish representatives with the necessary tools to assist people on the move in Eswatini through the creation of migrants and refugees’ offices at diocesan and parish level.
During the three-day workshop from Friday, April 29 to Sunday, May 1 ECCW members in the Eswatini Kingdom looked at the Catholic social teaching on human mobility to understand the plight of migrants and refugees in Eswatini”, Doris Makhubu said during the Sunday, May 1 interview.
The workshop titled “Migrants and Refugees: A Coordinated and Sustainable Response” underscored the “need to establish migrants and refugees’ offices to provide pastoral care and to integrate migrants and refugees into our different communities”, Ms. Makhubu said.
The objectives of the workshop requested by Bishop Jose Ponce de Leon of Manzini Diocese was to understand the reality of human mobility in Eswatini, to organize pastoral care for migrants and refugees at diocesan and parish level, to support the development of a coordinated network at diocesan, national and international level, and to implement the resolutions of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) 2019 plenary meeting on migration.“The idea came from the Bishop. He requested us as Catholic women, and people who have been working with the Malindza refugee camp to help him set up a migrants and refugees office in the diocese”, said the President of ECCW.
She added, “We started working with the refugees in 2016. Even during the COVID lock downs, we still managed to assist at the Malindza refugee camp. Once a year, we make sure that we take them food, clothing, bedding, and sanitary pads, because there are a lot of young girls in the camp.”
The landlocked Kingdom of Eswatini in Southern Africa is home to hundreds of refugees from countries as far as the Horn of Africa, Central Africa, including countries in the south-eastern region. At the Malindza Refugee Camp in the Lubombo region, refugees receive food and medical aid, until it is safe to return to their homes or until they are retrieved by other people outside the camps.
Referring to the influx of migrants and refugees in Eswatini Ms. Makhubu said, “I know that at the reception camp, we have people coming from Rwanda, South Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and from the Democratic Republic of Congo.” “The workshop was very informative, we as Catholic women have been empowered such that when we go back to our parishes, we will be able to do the required work. Like for starters, we need to identify the migrants and refugees, because we are now aware that it’s not only those refugees at Malindza camp that we have in the country, but there are also those who are in the different towns”, said Ms. Makhubu. She added, “We have lots of migrants and refugees in Eswatini. As a Church, we want to be welcoming, and we also understand that we ourselves can also be migrants in our own country.”
The president of the Eswatini Council of Catholic Women expressed her gratitude to Bishop Ponce de Leon saying, “We are very grateful to our Bishop for having trusted us Catholic women to head this project. Together with other executive members, we will report back to the Bishop so that we can establish migrants and refugees offices at every parish in the Diocese.”