Tusimame WanaWake Meeting, a celebration of Mother’s Day, and a visit to refugees’ tent in Kensington

On the 7th of May 2022, Africa Unite held meeting in Cape Town at Africa Unite Office with a group of immigrant women called Tusimame Wana Wake (TWW) who are part of the movement-building program. The purpose of the meeting was to come together to finalize the mission, vision and ideas of the movement. As well, to inform new and old members of the concept of TWW. Finally we wanted to celebrate Mothersday with all the mothers of TWW. The meeting was attended by 16 women, from those 16 women, 3 women were new members from countries we have and do not have such as Kenya and Malawi.  

The meeting commenced with a powerful speech from Ma’am Lilian who is one interim leader of the movement. She shared a scripture from the bible in Numbers 27 verses 1 to 7 about the five daughters of Zelophehad who influenced the making of a new law to allow women to inherit and own land. She encouraged women to unite, change mindsets and be brave enough to approach officials in government offices to air their grievances to effect change just like the five daughters of Zelophehad in the scripture.

After the inspirational introduction, the participants then moved to nominating leaders of various committees which were suggested on the retreat they had on the 22 till the 24 of April. This came after the realization that having a structure was important for the group to move forward, to be independent, and for accountability purposes. A platform was opened on the criteria for choosing their leaders and the outcome of this session was the agreement to have a meeting specifically dedicated to the election of the members of the committee on the 28th of May 2022.

An intern from Africa Unite, Fabienne Simons then shared the report of what transpired at the retreat and what the organization is all about for the new immigrant women who had just joined the organization and as a reminder to the other women of how far the organization has come and what they have achieved. After her presentation, women had an opportunity to celebrate Mother’s Day where they brought two presents per individual and shared them to celebrate each other significance as mothers. 

Kensington refugee tent visit

After the celebration at the office, the women went on to celebrate Mother’s Day with women at Kensington Refugee Centre. Succinctly, Kensington tent lives some of the refugees who were dislocated due to the recurrence of xenophobic violence which forced them to occupy the Green Square market in Cape Town. Our visit to the tent was a unique meeting that was in honor and appreciation of mothers in Kensington.

We were welcomed with open arms and had several speeches from members of Tusimame Wanawake, about how proud we should be as mothers and that change is happening but not by itself. We danced and sang which made a connection between the groups and distributed food and drinks to the mothers, to be able to move forward for the following period. The women of Tusimame WanaWake made an impression on the women in the camp. Through the wise and impactful words, one could see excitement and emotion arise among the women in the camp. Women encouraged each other and highlighted that no distinction should be made between the people in the camp and that outside.

The women are happy with our arrival and especially because the environment in which the women live is poor and barely liveable. Upon entering, we see many burnt things lying around, with children running through them. It is a large tent, but inside there are several self-made set-ups of small living spaces. It is frightening to see how small and badly built the living spaces and sleeping quarters are.

The hygiene is poor, a few dixies for 140 people are not what is normal for a human being. Sanitary facilities are therefore urgently needed to prevent diseases. Living together in a community means limited food and drink for everyone. The women indicated that they get a supply of food and drink from outside, which they use for as long as possible, but this can always be less for the occupants. One reported that “when the food and drink are finished, it is finished.”  As winter approaches, life gets harder and harder. There is no heating and blankets are limited. It will be a difficult time for the residents inside the tent. A period of survival and hibernation will arrive, and blankets may be a lifeline. In conclusion, this activity would not have been possible without the help of Africa Unite, who helped us with transport and funding for food and drinks. We are grateful for this cooperation and hope to do more activities in the future.

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