Young people stage fundraiser for immigrants

South African artists performed at the Parow Civic Centre to raise money for impoverished young refugees

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Young immigrants from various African countries arrive at a fundraiser in Parow on Friday night. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

On Friday night about 150 young people dressed in traditional clothing danced together and sampled foods from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and Nigeria at the Parow Civic Centre. The occasion was a fundraiser for immigrant youths struggling financially.

The proceeds of the event, organised by Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees (MARS) in partnership with the human rights group Africa Unite, will go to help impoverished young immigrants cover school fees, transport fares and rent.

MARS was formed this year by youngsters aged 16 to 25. It has 70 members so far and branches in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Entertainment on the night was provided by young artists, including singer Zizipho Mfaku from Khayelitsha, Ndebele poet Prince Mandisi Mtyhid, dancer Aston Emmanuel, actor Jessy Sekati of Feel de Muzik and comedian Jeremiah Kabasele.

One participant, who did not want to be named – a 17-year-old, originally from the DRC and at school in Goodwood – said her father lost his job in June because he could not get his asylum document renewed online.

“For days we slept without eating,” she said.

She then found out about Africa Unite, which assisted the family with money to buy groceries and referred her to MARS.

“We eat only once a day at night. In the morning I wake up and go to school without eating. I can’t focus in class when the teacher is talking,” she said.

The family has no access to social grants. She and her five siblings sleep in the lounge.

“As an asylum seeker, opportunities are limited. I love sports and have been doing high jump and running since primary school, but when I reached a level to represent [the school] they always picked a citizen and said I am an immigrant I can’t participate,” she said.

“We have been saving and planning the event for a few months,” said Esther Nkulua, a first-year accounting student at the University of the Western Cape and a member of MARS.

“I expected them to come in the regular clothes they wear for parties. But they went out of their way and came in outfits that represent their culture,” she said.

She said they had sold about R15,000 worth of tickets.

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TOPICS:  Immigration Youth

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