Newly Launched Book Narrates Missionary Service to Refugee Women in Johannesburg: Editor

Cover page of the book titled “Bienvenu Shelter: 20 Years of Welcoming, Caring and Empowering.” Credit: CSEM

The editor of the book, “Bienvenu Shelter: 20 Years of Welcoming, Caring and Empowering”, has said that the publication provides insight into the ministry of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, the Scalabrinians, with refugee women and their children in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg. 

In an interview with ACI Africa on the day the book was launched, Sr. Marivane Chiesa said the writing of the 155-page text involved several collaborators who facilitated the documentation of the history of Bienvenu Shelter and the missionary service to refugee women and their children at the facility over the past 20 years.

“The book records the memories and testimonies of the very people who have passed through here, whether from the staff or from the women themselves who have lived here and left their mark of faith and hope”, Sr. Chiesa said in reference to beneficiaries of Bienvenu Shelter in the last two decades.

Credit: ACI Africa

The new book “is also in recognition of all the people who were part of this journey, especially the women and children who trusted in the Bienvenu Shelter, in their team of Sisters, professionals and volunteers,” the Scalabrinian Nun said about the book that was launched on March 15.


She added, “This book is the result of field study and research conducted by the Scalabrinian Center for Migratory Studies – (CSEM) in late December 2018 and early January 2019.”

Credit: ACI Africa

The Brazilian-born Catholic Nun continued, “The seven-chapter book which is available online in both English and Portuguese, includes testimonies of some of the refugee women who received support from Bienvenu Shelter.”

The first chapter outlines a brief contextualization on human mobility, cooperation, and solidarity, Sr. Chiesa said.

Credit: ACI Africa

More in Africa

She added that chapter two details the holistic support offered to refugee women and their respective children, and highlights 20 years of making a difference in the lives of the beneficiaries of Bienvenu Shelter, welcoming, caring for, and promoting their livelihoods.

The third and fourth chapters of the book highlight the empowerment of refugee women through outreach programs and training courses provided by the Mother Assunta Training Center, the missionary Sister told ACI Africa March 15.

Credit: ACIA Africa

The last three chapters of the book have documented testimonies from refugee women, and go on to discuss some of the challenges experienced before and after the COVI-19 pandemic, she further said.

In the March 15 interview with ACI Africa, the director of Bienvenu Shelter highlighted the formation courses offered by the facility through the Mother Assunta Training Center.


Credit: ACI Africa

“In the book published by CSEM, readers will also learn about our new project, which seeks to empower refugee and migrant women with sewing, baking and beauty skills through our formation courses”, Sr. Chiesa said.

She described the publication as “beautiful” and “a pleasant reading that brings hope and you yourself throughout the reading, you feel like giving thanks and praise to God for this service in response to the needs of migrant and refugee women.”

Credit: ACI Africa

In the Foreward, Archbishop Buti Joseph Tlhagale of Johannesburg says Bienvenu Shelter is an important facility because “it represents the love of God who gives of himself, serving and protecting the lives of those in need, people that Jesus Christ chose to represent his love: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’”

(Story continues below)

“The Shelter is a living sign of God’s love in our midst”, Archbishop Tlhagale further says, and adds, “It is an important tool that gives hope to migrant and refugee women and children; it also helps them to integrate into the host community.”

Credit: CSEM

The book is available online in both English and Portuguese at the Scalabrinian Center for Migratory Studies – (CSEM) at

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.