South Africa: Empowering Women at JRS Arrupe Centres

22 December 2017

(Jesuit Refugee Service)

In South Africa, host to one of the largest populations of urban refugees in the world, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) runs two centers for women refugees and asylum seekers. The centers, in Pretoria and Johannesburg, are named of JRS’s founder, Fr. Pedro Arrupe SJ, and run projects that empower women with applicable vocational skills.

The life skills training courses offered at the Arrupe Centres range from English language to baking.  Once students complete their courses, they are given start-up kits and the opportunity to attend a business training seminar, where they learn how to use their newly acquired skills to generate income for themselves and their families. Skills such as, teaching beneficiaries how to work with fondant icing has been an important addition to the baking courses, as this particular technique enables many women to secure jobs as birthday and wedding cake bakers after graduation.

As part of the final project before graduation, tailoring students in Pretoria must complete entire outfits.

Of all the courses, the cosmetology and hairdressing classes have proved to be especially successful in helping women gain generate income.

“In order for these refugee women to successfully rebuild their lives in the urban settings of South Africa, skills training…and in some cases retraining in skills that are relevant, is key to their healthy integration.” says Jill Drzewiecki, JRS International’s Campaign and Philanthropy Officer.

The opportunity to learn relevant and applicable skills is essential for female refugees living in protracted situations of displacement, especially in urban contexts; the JRS Arrupe Centres are proud to contribute to empowering women to be change-makers in their families and communities through financial security.