16 September 2012
Schools poetry event to mark migrants and refugee experiences on Heritage Day

JOHANNESBURG – Doctors Without Borders (MSF) South Africa, in partnership with Constitution Hill hosts a thought provoking poetry event to mark South Africa’s Heritage Day, on 22 September at 12:00.

The poetry event, presented by poet and social activist Mayesha Jenkins, is the culmination of MSF South Africa’s Solidarity for Survival campaign which sought to bring attention on the plight of migrants and refugees who survive displacement and migration struggles; come to South Africa in the face of discrimination and healthcare exclusion. 

The Solidarity for Survival poetry competition ran among Johannesburg inner city schools whose students attended the campaign exhibition held at Constitution Hill from 10 May to 16 June 2012. Students from grades 10, 11 and 12 were invited to write poems reflecting on what they witnessed and experienced during their visit, and submitted their poems independently.

The topics for poems included:

  • Crossing Borders
  • What it means when one does not have access to basic healthcare
  • Risks women and children face crossing borders without protection
  • What South Africans have done, or should do to assist migrants in our country
  • Does xenophobia equal racism?

On 22 September, five poems will be announced as the winners among hundreds of entries received. The five young poets along with five of their friends and teachers, will attend the final event. Jenkins  will engage the students about  writing poetry, poetry performance, and after which five winners will present their poems. The winners will also each receive a certificate and a book for their efforts.

Other speakers include Sharon Ekambaram, MSF South Africa Head of Programmes, Thabo Madisha of Constitution Hill, and Farayi Muezembwe, a Johannesburg based educator.



The Solidarity for Survival campaignaddresses migration, xenophobia, discrimination and access to healthcare facing African foreign nationals in South Africa. The campaign was launched in 2011 with an annual exhibition presented by MSF South Africa . The exhibit portrays what pushes people to flee their homes to come to South Africa as a matter of survival.Solidarity for Survival operates as a catalyst, from where a range of activities among different communities affected by discrimination are engaged.

Solidarity for Survival seeks to build public awareness and critical consciousness about people in situations of migration, those seeking refuge in South Africa and barriers they face in accessing to healthcare.

For more information visit: www.solidarity4survival.org | www.msf.org.za

Find out more about MSF in South Africa.