Peter's Blog

Christian Aid trip to South Africa

Written by Peter Johnston on .

On hearing that there might be the possibility of joining an “immersion trip” with Christian Aid my first thoughts were of baptism, but this was quickly corrected as I read on. This is an opportunity to travel with other church leaders from across the UK in order to immerse ourselves in the work going on in part of South Africa with the urban poor.

Our small group gathered from across the UK will be travelling to Durban in South Africa and meeting up with other clergy with whom we will spend the week together. We are kindly being hosted by the Church Land Programme, an organisation working in solidarity with the landless poor in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

In the UK, mortgage rates and the impact of these on homeowners has recently become a major topic of concern raising doubts over how secure the place we live in really is. For many people and families in shack-dweller communities around cities like Pietermaritzburg there have been generational struggles over their rights to the land on which they live. Issues of land justice and the exclusion of the poor from meaningful discussion and decision-making over their own futures has been an area of great concern, frustration, and anger. Evictions from homes and land alongside institutional biases towards the rich in law-making and criminal justice systems has denied the dignity and basic rights of many, particularly women.

We will be joining members of the Church Land Programme which works in and amongst people in areas that are most affected by just such injustices over the land on which they live and, increasingly, climate justice issues also. This will give us a chance to observe the situation for people living with these threats, reflect on the causes of their predicament, and listen to their stories and those working in solidarity with them. I have no doubt that this will help us better understand an issue that impacts on global development.

I am looking forward to learning a lot, meeting new friends, and building connections with sisters and brothers in faith across the globe as they strive to advocate for justice for shack-dweller communities.  

My hope over the next week is to give a short update at the end of each day, with some personal reflections, of what we have witnessed and learnt about together. All this is internet willing, of course!

Please do join me on this journey. I'll be arriving in South Africa on Monday 10 October.