When Di Forrester first met Mary, a refugee from Burundi, she heard a heartbreaking story of pain and loss that to the eyes of the world appeared hopeless. But despite her circumstances, Mary never gave up hope in Christ. Here, Di shares her remarkable story.
I met Mary* during the xenophobic attacks in May 2008 at Chrysalis Academy where the organization I worked for, Westlake United Church Trust, had set up an unofficial refugee camp with the help of other churches, including Common Ground Church. Mary was one of the many foreigners who had fled to the US Consulate in Tokai seeking refuge during the attacks.
The police brought her and about 60 others to Chrysalis but unfortunately there was no more accommodation available. We finally managed to find a safe house for her and her two children belonging to St Martin’s church in Bergvliet.
When members of St Martin’s church chatted to Mary they realized the full horror of her story. She told them how her husband had left to attend a funeral in Joburg a few days before the xenophobic violence had broken out. While in Joburg, his cellphone and money had been stolen and he had been unable to return to Cape Town in the midst of the xenophobic chaos.