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Donations keep refugees afloat

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Donations keep refugees afloat

by Tammy Petersen
04 Jun 2008
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

CAR LOADS of blankets, toys and food line the walls of the Methodist Church in Observatory after people opened their hearts - and wallets - to the refugees left homeless and destitute by xenophobic attacks.


Foreigners from Tanzania, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe settled "relatively well" after they moved into the church hall on Saturday, 24 May. Robert Gidha, coordinator of the refugees at the church, says the atmosphere is calm.

"Everyone is getting along and we are experiencing absolutely no problems. The people staying here are keeping busy with various projects such as wire artistry, beading and other projects to raise money to survive during this tough time." He says they have been inundated with offers to help run the "camp" smoothly.

"The local community has really gone the extra mile for the victims of the violence. Thanks to them we are able to keep our heads above water - we are surviving solely on donations."

Denzel Moyo (20) from Zimbabwe says that through the generosity of "virtual strangers", he has regained his faith in South Africans. "There is no other word to describe their actions other than 'wonderful'. Actions like these leave you believing there are still some truly good people out there. Last week I thought I was going to die; now I know there are good hearted individuals willing to go the extra mile for their fellow man." Moyo says he fled his home last Saturday with nothing but the clothes on his back, eventually settling at Cape Town Police Station, "waiting for a miracle".

"The mere fact that something like this happened in a so-called democratic country is shocking, horrifying and disgusting. This should be put in the history books of the school children of South Africa; something like this should never happen again." Mozambican David Shishava (24) says his primary concern is no longer finding a job: it's staying alive. "I don't want to die here. I have two children who need their daddy. All I want is to go home."

After all he has been through, Richard Chueke (30) says he wants to "die on South African soil. I forgive these people because they are not aware of the consequences of their actions.

"I believe in the prosperity and power of this country; I still want to make this land my home."

Some of the men staying at the church (on the corner of Milton and Wesley Streets) have set up a car wash to raise money. They appeal to residents to have their cars cleaned "chop-chop"; they offer reasonable rates and "value for money". Phone Robert Gidha to book your car for a wash on 073 086 4605, or speak to him on arrival.

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